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Still the Best Congress Money Can Buy

Frank Rich has a fantastic rant in the NY Times about how our government is completely controlled by big money, “the big money that dominates our political system, regardless of who’s in power.” And the situation is getting worse, not better.

Ever wonder why our government is so screwed up? Go read it, now.

In case you need more encouragement, here’s one paragraph:

As John Cassidy underscored in a definitive article titled “Who Needs Wall Street?” in The New Yorker last week, the financial sector has paid little for bringing the world to near-collapse or for receiving the taxpayers’ bailout that was denied to most small-enough-to-fail Americans. The sector still rakes in more than a fourth of American business profits, up from a seventh 25 years ago. And what is its contribution to America in exchange for this quarter-century of ever-more over-the-top rewards? “During a period in which American companies have created iPhones, Home Depot and Lipitor,” Cassidy writes, the industry reaping the highest profits and compensation is one that “doesn’t design, build or sell a tangible thing.”



  1. Don wrote:

    One of the guests at a friends Thanksgiving dinner started down the all too worn out path of assailing those on welfare as the real problem with America. Racist, his comments were, to be sure and I said as much. I also pointed out, though, that the real enemy of the “poor slob” working in the trenches isn’t those who can’t find work or don’t want to work. It is those that profit from the labor or others and horde those profits in an ever ascending spiral of greed. 1% of our citizens make 25% of the income each year. 1% of our citizens hold 90% of the wealth in our country, the next 1% owns 5% of our wealth and the other 98% hold only 5% of our wealth.

    It isn’t those on unemployment and welfare that are sucking the wealth out of our economy – it’s the 2% of our citizens that can’t seem to get enough $$$$$.

    I know this is simplistic, but I can’t seem to get it out of our head that as long as a very small number of citizens control this immense amount of wealth and power, the average wage for the rest of us will continue to decline in real dollars as it has been for several decades. The 98% of us with 5% of our country’s wealth cannot spend this economy’s way back to health. Ain’t gonna happen and, besides, all that really does is give that 1% an additional opportunity to increase their piles of loot.

    Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Don wrote:

    Oh, and Ed Stein’s cartoon from the 24th adds a nice touch.

    Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  3. ebdoug wrote:

    Years ago, I read a book on Rove. He is definately winning the war of wealth distribution.
    My computer repair person said re health insurance: “Tort reform is the problem” Seems malpractice claims are only 1% of health care costs. On the other hand if I invested in a health care company, I would expect back 3% of my investment a year. That probably doesn’t corrolate to their profit, but it is certainly more than malpractice claims. Having just gone nearly six years with an undiagnosed illness after complaining at my annual appointment, I can understand malpractice suits. (my symptoms were mild, not recognized by me as an illness. This year, I asked if a culture could be done.)

    Monday, November 29, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink
  4. Jeff wrote:

    The problem, IMHO, is that the law requires corporations to think first and foremost about their own bottom line, not the consumer of their products or services. Because of this, corporations have a vested interest in funding politicians who will pass laws that help the corporation reap more profits.

    “[N]o corporation shall…Purchase or redeem its own shares of capital stock for cash or other property when the capital of the corporation is impaired or when such purchase or redemption would cause any impairment of the capital of the corporation…” (quoted from: )

    Monday, November 29, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink
  5. Michael wrote:

    I was curious about the details that “malpractice claims are only 1% of health care costs.” Is that just payouts? Or does it also include malpractice insurance? I found this chart, which is kind of interesting. I’m guessing malpractice and insurance fit into the 7% “administrative costs.”

    One of the references goes here, which offers an interesting, yet depressing, insight: “[T]he apparent failure of all approaches reflects the American people’s uncontainable desire for the latest and best health care, and that what we will do in the future is try small things that will work at the margin, complain a lot, but ultimately pay the bill.”

    Ultimately, it seems that what we have is just the natural state of supply and demand. Whether it is driven by the private companies (e.g., “voluntary effort” and “managed care”) or by public policy (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, price controls), any slowing of the rate of cost increase is only short-term. In the long-run, our health care costs have always grown at a rate of about 4-6% per year. That is simply a response to supply vs. demand.

    Ultimately, we have to address demand. The first thing we need to do, in my mind, is to get the damn pharmaceutical commercials off the air. It has been shown that they are NOT informative, but rather that they invoke an emotional response. They provide a vague list of symptoms that almost everyone can relate to, and all of a sudden, the entire populace thinks they have restless leg syndrome. Additionally, brand recognition makes a lot of people refuse generics, because they don’t think they’re as effective.

    We also, as a culture, have to make changes. We need to recognize that avoiding preventive care and leading sedentary lifestyles will incur huge expenses in the long-run. The car culture of suburbia is horrible. I’ve seen people stop at one store, get in the car and drive half a block to another. We need more support for active lifestyles, encouragement not to become workaholics (I’ve spent too much of my life in situations where 60-hour work weeks–either from unpaid overtime in a salaried corporate job or from working multiple jobs–is the norm), and a general acceptance that health care costs primarily reflect what the market demands. Want your health care provider to use electronic records? That costs money. Want extra privacy to ensure your data isn’t leaked? That costs money. Want state-of-the-art testing machines? Those cost big bucks.

    I realize I’m preaching to the choir, since most people on this site have generally recognized that this year’s health care reform was a small step, but not a panacea. We just really need the American public to stop being so damn naive to think that we can have the Bentley of health care for the cost of a Kia.

    Monday, November 29, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  6. patriotsgt wrote:

    Jeff – On your corporate analysis I think you are partly correct on the politican-corporation partnership. Corps are interested in bottom line, it’s why they exist. One might say they are obligated to produce profits and continually seek ways to improve efficiency and thus increase profits. I would caution against the thinking that they don’t care about the consumer or product/service that they provide. They understand if they don’t satisfy their consumer they will make less or no profit and if they build trust among those same consumers they will profit. Look at Toyota, they blossomed into a major worldwide auto supplier in the late 70’s early 80’s when the US car industry, in search of short term profit growth, employed substandard materiels and design in their auto’s. Toyota built a reputation on supplying a quality product at a reasonable price. As a consequence, when they recently had their major recall event it had only a small impact on consumer confidence in their products.
    Now for the politician and corporation relationship, I think it’s more of a supply and demand issue. Politicians could solicit donations from individual voters or spend less time and gather more money by going to the corps.

    Michael – I like your analysis of the HC situation and agree there are tings we can do and improvements to the legislation that can be made. Getting people to take care of themselves is another matter and a huge one. Part of me thinks providing them with access to affordable healthcare (or free) will help. Part of me knows it will make no difference for a certain percentage. Requiring people to exercise, eat right, sleep more, drink less and avoid drugs, stress and loud noises is absolutely the right way of thinking. Except it produces the nanny state. Now there is IMO a way to propose such within the framework of HC legislation. No suprise that my employer requires I stay physically fit, get annual checkups, keep my shots up to date, maintain a healthy height to weight ratio given that DOD signs my check. But, perhaps we can slowly begin to require those same type of healthy lifestyle changes from the persons who get fully or partially subsidized HC from the Gov’t, (along with all the federal employees). For those paying their own HC bill, we could either through legislation or industry pressure get insurance comp’s to provide price discounts based on measurable improved lifestyle changes. In this way those that don’t want to change don’t have to, but they will have to pay more then the guy who walks to the store down the street or uses the stairs instead of the elevator.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:29 am | Permalink