It's quite raw and in-your-face.We've been trying to ignore it for many a year.But with the failure of the bankruptcy reform bill this week it is sickeningly obvious.We can't ignore it any longer. Campaign finance is blatant bribery.It is quid pro quo.The money that is paid to individual legislators by lobbying firms and the firms that hire lobbying firms get things done.One of those things is the defeat of the banking bill because it had something in it called "cram down" which the major banks were adamantly opposed to.
These are the same banks that have accepted billions of dollars in TARP funds that allowed them to continue to exist.These are the same banks that aren't making loans even though billions in TARP funds have been dumped into their bottomless coffers-coffers emptied by making insane bets on insane financial derivatives or just simply making huge numbers of really stupid loans.Anybody want a recap of a NINA (No Income No Assets) or a SISA (Stated Income State Assets) loan?Trust me they didn't make any sense.These are the banks that have brought our entire economy to its knees.These are the banks that shut off credit to the auto industry-not just the manufacturers but the suppliers as well.These are also the banks that are the largest credit card issuers in the world-the outfits that raise your rates to 39% if you are a day late and hit you with all kinds of fees that can be enforced through unilateral loan agreement modifications.The banks that will raise your rates if are late for another card that they have nothing to do with.
Yeah, those guys.They haven't changed a bit.And they won't unless they are forced to.And the only way to force them to is to pass regulatory legislation with teeth.And laws that mandate and finance campaigns for public office.
And that legislation won't get passed.Why?Because you and me haven't paid for it. Money talks and bullshit walks as they say.The golden rule is that those that have money make the rules.And, for the most part, the "people" that have money are not people at all, but are usually corporations that have been given the rights of citizens.Or political organizations that have been given the rights of citizens.This is in spite of the fact that these legal entities do not bear the obligations of citizens.It's a nice one way street-all of the rights but none of the obligations.What a deal!
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This whole never ending debacle is highlighting something that we've all tried to ignore.Because sometimes the political process works anyway and we hope it might this time.
The lobbyists own our government.And since the lobbyists are extensions of large corporations-financial corporations in my instances but don't forget the oil companies-that means that corporations own our government.
Yes, these banks are underscoring a basic fact.At some time in the past, due to some really bad Supreme Court decisions and a whole lot of really bad bills we legalized bribery.
So, how did this happen?To understand what is happening today you first have to understand what happened in the past.Yes, history.You have to understand history.And you have to understand how our legal system works.
Our legal system is based on a fundamental premise: stare decisis.Stare Decisis is means that legal decisions are, generally, to be based on legal precedent.The legal precedent is usually somewhere in the dim past based on initial interpretations of our brilliantly ambiguous Constitution.
So, each decision becomes a logical building block for subsequent decisions.To quote Pink Floyd, "All in All, it's just another brick in theWall..."
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This way of looking at the legal landscape can create great law at times.At other times stare decisis can create horrible leaps of illogic that leave everyone arguing for years without any hope of future resolution.That is what the anti-abortionists contend about Roe v Wade.
One of these leaps of illogic that was hardly noticed by anyone other than Constitutional legal scholars at the time was the following statement by Chief Justice Waite which didn't even make it into the actual decision of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad:
"The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."
This was a case about taxes and should have had no impact on the personhood of a corporation or any non-human entity.But this statement somehow made it into the heading that prefaced the text of the actual decision.A decision which had nothing to do with the legal standing of a corporation as a person naturally imbued with the same legal rights granted in the Bill of Rights to an individual.
I was born in Asia. I grew up an Army Brat. I lived in a lot of places in the States and lived in Europe and South America before I had turned 13. I came of age in the late 60's and early 70's. I have two undergraduate degrees from Missouri State (more...)