Posts tagged special interests

Will Washington Take Down Apple — And Why?

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Will Washington Take Down Apple — And Why?

 

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Is Apple being given a hint to fork over more campaign contributions?

The US Department of Justice has not only successfully sued Apple for arguably non-existent anti-trust violations in the e-book market. It has even demanded– and gotten– a court appointed “monitor” placed inside the company to supervise the company’s pricing decisions.

This is a company that went from an $18 billion market value in 2000 to a $455 billion market value in 2013. During the same period, Microsoft’s market value fell from $603 billion to $290 billion. Should anyone expect the success story to continue now that the government is meddling with all the company’s pricing?

Apple appealed the anti-trust judgement this Tuesday, but was unable to get the government “monitor’s” work suspended while the case is under appeal. Among the interesting facts that have come out about the “monitor,” Michael Bromwich: he bills for his time at $1,100 an hour and charged $138,432 for his first two weeks of “work.”

Apple has labeled Bromwich’s appointment “unprecedented and unconstitutional.” We wish it were unprecedented. This form of government price interference and intimidation has become increasingly common.

Joseph Covington, who headed the Justice Department’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Division in the 1980’s, told Forbes, in reference to monitors appointed to enforce that act: “ This is good business for Justice Department lawyers who create the marketplace [ for monitors] and then get…a job there [ after they leave government].”

Nor is it limited to the Justice department. If a company gets into the sights of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the terms of settlement increasingly include “monitoring” by highly paid lawyers, who are typically former FTC or FDA employees.

This is not just the small time corruption it might seem. It is tremendously damaging to the economy. The collapse of the Soviet Union should have demonstrated once and for all how important honest and unimpeded prices are for an economy.

If the government takes control of pricing, as it is doing in more and more sectors of the economy, it is guaranteeing unemployment and economic suffering. It is also guaranteeing an ever greater problem of crony capitalism, as companies respond by increasing their campaign contributions or take other steps to buy influence in Washington.

Apple is and ought to be ramping up its Washington presence. A Politico article of May 2012 wondered about the earlier naivete of the company leadership. Did they really think they could get away with lobbying expenditure of only $500,000 in the first quarter of that year compared to $5mm for Google and $1.8mm for Microsoft? Did they really think they could get away with having no company political action committee (PAC) from which to make campaign contributions?

Apple might have thought it was safe, even untouchable. Was not the company an icon of American economic leadership? Did not Apple employees overwhelmingly direct what campaign contributions they made to President Obama? Even with the lawsuit, had not Apple employees in fact given 93 percent of their contributions to Obama in 2012 and only 7% to Romney? Wasn’t that good enough?

Well no. Google employees gave 98 percent of their money to Obama and it was a whole lot more money ($727,702 versus $338,752). Apple CEO Tim Cook hadn’t even maxed out ( given to the legal limit) in his own contribution.

This lack of political involvement may be contrasted with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who stood on the other side of the anti-trust suit, even though he had created what certainly looked like a near monopoly in e-books, the subject of the suit. Apple is not wrong to argue in its legal filing that its entry into the sector “marked the beginning, not the end, of competition.” But Bezos has bought the Washington Post, and Washington officials will think twice about tangling with him.

In thinking about Apple’s relative lack of political involvement in the past, we should also keep in mind what Politico reported last month: “ President Barack Obama has a plan to save the Senate’s tenuous Democratic majority: sell a populist message… and raise lots of cash.”

In Washington doing favors for special interests is one way of raising cash. But so is intimidating them. Either way you get paid, whether from gratitude or fear.

In addition, there is another reason why Apple could now be in the crosshairs of the Justice Department. On November 5, 2013, the company issued a report containing this: “ Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.” This made jaws drop both in Silicon Valley and Washington. It was daring, perhaps foolhardy. It was directly taking on the government.

Before leaving the besieged Apple, we might pause to consider how the company also gives the lie to one of the great economic myths of our day: that falling prices ( deflation) hinder an economy. Here is a typical version of the myth from an AP story last month: “ Many economists have worried that the Eurozone may be about to suffer a debilitating bout of deflation….Falling prices can hurt an economy as consumers postpone spending in the hope of getting cheaper deals in the future while businesses fail to innovate and invest.”

This all backward. Businesses innovate and invest in order to become more productive. Being more productive allows them to lower prices, improve quality, and get more customers. Everyone benefits from lower prices, but especially the poor and the middle class, who have the most trouble dealing with rising prices.

Apple is a good illustration of all this. Various tech experts on the internet have been discussing what an Apple Iphone would have cost if available in 1991. What would we have had to pay to get similar features and power in some form ( clearly not hand held)? The estimates vary but the top one approaches $4mm.

Shouldn’t it be obvious ( to anyone other than a Federal Reserve official) that falling prices, produced by innovative and productive businesses such as Apple, are exactly what we should be hoping for? If so, why is the government determined both to create inflation and to interfere with Apple’s price setting decisions?
 

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

Left Icon Henry Waxman Leaves Tarnished Legacy of Crony Capitalism

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Left Icon Henry Waxman Leaves Tarnished Legacy of Crony Capitalism

 

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Henry Waxman, who just announced his retirement after 40 years in Congress, may be the most powerful under-the-radar screen person in Washington.

President Obama calls his fellow Democrat “ one of the most accomplished legislators of his or any era.” The Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson calls him “liberalism’s legislative genius” who “decisively consigned the Republican right’s favored ideology—libertarianism—to history’s dustbin.” He did so, Meyerson went on, by proposing “common sense” laws. “Who could be against “ Waxman?

In fact, many people were against Waxman– and for good reason. For one thing, he was the acknowledged master of underhanded legislative tricks. He learned how to write amendments that not even a lawyer could understand and then slip them into unrelated bills when nobody was watching.

For example, he drafted a bill written in no known human language that was intended to restrict the sale of dietary supplements, a longtime crusade of his. He then waited until House and Senate were about to reconcile their massive Wall Street reform bills and at the last moment slipped in his supplement bill posing as an amendment to the finance bill. Fortunately the totally unrelated amendment was discovered just before one of Waxman’s famous all night conference committee meetings, and after heated discussion was rejected by the other conferees.

The odd part of this story is that Waxman’s district, which included part of Hollywood, must have teemed with health food stores selling dietary supplements. It is doubtful that many of the voters supporting him even knew about this and similar behind-the-scenes gambits.

On another occasion, Waxman stopped the progress of legislation he didn’t like by offering 600 amendments. The paperwork was wheeled into the House Energy and Commerce committee room in shopping carts.

The Congressman knew how to raise money from corporate and other special interests, who feared him, and since he was in a safe district himself, he could spread his money among colleagues, thereby garnering support for his own bills. Each bill he introduced raised more money for him, either from special interests supporting it, or interests who were afraid to cross him.

In many cases, what Waxman actually got from his many successful bills was unintended. For example, he succeeded in mandating that either an additive MBTE or ethanol be added to gasoline. It later developed that MBTE contaminated groundwater and that ethanol raised the price of corn and other grains without helping the environment.

The congressman deemed himself a staunch environmentalist but passed a clean energy bill that was eventually supported by coal companies and opposed by Greenpeace before eventual defeat in the Senate. When he decided that toys needed to be safer, he passed a bill that put small and artisanal toymakers out of business, which mainly helped giant corporations.

Waxman continued to think of himself as a defender of the “little guy” against big special interests. But how did he help devastated families by passing legislation shielding big corporations from vaccine injury lawsuits?

And how did he justify imposing 10 year jail terms and massive fines on small farmers and organic farm producers who violated even minor (and often vague) FDA record keeping or other administrative regulations, a provision of the House’s version of the Food Safety Act? Or the large fees small farmers would pay as they were swept up in the net of FDA regulation for the first time, fees high enough to put many of them out of business? Fortunately, the Senate said no to this provision of the bill.

Helping the “little guy” invariably meant for Waxman increasing government regulation. But this more often than not just opened the door to crony capitalism.

For example, he not only wanted more federal control of dietary supplements. He wanted more federal control of drugs as well. His solution, incorporated in a successful bill, was to charge drug companies for the costs of the Food and Drug Administration.

This might sound like a good idea at first glance, but think about the public policy implications. Do we really want industries paying their own regulators? If I am a regulator, and my salary is paid by industry, not by the public, to whom will I answer?

It seems clear that Waxman arrived in Washington all those years ago intent on serving the public good. But, like many progressives, he failed to understand one basic truth. The more government gets involved in the private economy, the more government tries to substitute its own rules and regulations for the market system, the more corruption results.

Public figures are not saints; they want lucrative jobs and campaign contributions. Private interests in turn want government assistance in bending the rules or in defeating their competitors. Deals are struck, and both our economy and our public morals suffer.

All of this might be described as the progressive paradox. Henry Waxman no doubt wanted to make the world a better place, but ended up making it a worse place.

Waxman himself once said that “government should act as a referee so that people play fairly.” If only he had paid heed to his own words. Obamacare, which Waxman helped create, was not refereeing the medical system; it was a federal takeover, and it is causing more of the negative unintended consequences that we have come to expect from his legislation.

With Waxman retired, there will still be plenty of supporters of monopoly and one-size-fits-all medicine on Capitol Hill. But let’s hope that none of them will be so skilled at sneaky legislative maneuvers.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

‘Fiscal Cliff’ Vote Shows How Washington Really Works

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Please note Ron Paul’s message regarding the site that this article was originally posted and linked below.

***Please note: This is the temporary home for my weekly column until my personal web page is up and running.***

1-9-2013 6-14-42 AMRon Paul’s Texas Straight Talk

Source: http://www.the-free-foundation.org/

By Ron Paul

Last week the Senate and House demonstrated again why their approval ratings are so low. The 154 page “fiscal cliff” bill was made available to Senators just three minutes before the vote was taken on the legislation. No one can read 154 pages in three minutes, so it is safe to assume that the legislation was passed without being read.

Then the House brought the lengthy and complicated bill to a vote just 22 hours after the text had been available, meaning a full reading of the legislation was not likely possible. This was a clear violation of the “three day rule” adopted by the 112th Congress, which in the name of transparency ordered the House to make legislation available to the public a full three days before a Floor vote.

Perhaps this race to a vote, amid cries of the end of the world without a solution to the manufactured crisis, explains why an even greater than usual amount of special-interest carve-outs made it into the bill.

Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution clearly states that “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” but as has been done many times, the Senate simply attached its bill to an existing House bill and claimed that this Constitutional requirement had been satisfied.

If the process was dishonest and unconstitutional, the content of the bill was even worse.

The “rescue” legislation was packed full of special tax deals for well-connected corporations with the money to hire high-profile lobbyists – usually those who have spent a good deal of time as legislators themselves.

The principle of tax cuts and breaks themselves are not the problem, however. It is incorrect to view any return of tax money to its rightful owner as money taken from the government. Wealth belongs to those who generate it not to government. However, while well-connected special interests like Hollywood and rum manufacturers were being granted targeted tax assistance, the vast majority of Americans were being hit with a significant tax increase in the form of higher payroll taxes. Rather than cut a dime from federal spending, this bill granted breaks to the corporate elites and paid for the “lost revenue” by passing the costs on to the rest of us.

The “fiscal cliff” bill also rescued other corporate interests. Included in the text was a nine-month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. This is corporate welfare at its worst, spending billions to enrich big corporate farms with direct subsidies at the expense of small farmers — and the taxpayer.

Last week’s last minute deal was the worst of both worlds: higher taxes on nearly all Americans now and a promise to begin thinking about modest cuts in spending growth two months down the road. While there was much hand-wringing over the “draconian” cuts that would have been imposed by sequestration, in fact sequestration would not have cut spending at all. Under the sequestration plan, government spending would increase by $1.6 trillion over the next eight years. Congress calls this a cut because without sequestration spending would increase by $1.7 trillion over the same time frame. Either way it is an increase in spending, however.

I have little hope that a majority of Congress and the President will change their ways and support real spending reductions. Fortunately, increasing numbers of Americans are awakening to the dangers posed by the growth of the welfare-warfare state. Hopefully this movement will continue to grow and force the politicians to reverse course before government spending, taxing, and inflation destroys our economy entirely.

Ron Paul’s ‘Exit’ Interview

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Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com

Posted by Lew Rockwell on November 29, 2012 08:28 AM

 

Rand Paul full speech at CPAC 2012

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[CIM Comment]

Individual liberty is what makes us great, let us support it.

Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution!

Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!

Fox Business News Axes Freedom Watch

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Source: http://theintelhub.com

Was Judge Andrew Napolitano cutting to close to the bone for the establishment?

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
February 10, 2012

The Fox Business Channel has cancelled one of the only shows on the entire Fox News network that was in any way informative or watchable - Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano.

In a press release distributed late Thursday, the channel announced that its entire prime-time programming lineup had been changed, with re-runs of already existing programs replacing Freedom Watch.

Napolitano’s show had been airing for a year, in which time he had consistently covered major issues that other news programs would only gloss over, if they devoted any coverage to them at all.

Napolitano’s coverage of the freedom stripping National Defense Authorization Act for one was second to none as far as mainstream news output was concerned. His legal and constitutional expertise on such matters is also unrivalled.

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His focus on Austrian economics and Libertarian social policy provided a much welcome alternative to the endless left/right bickering constantly played out on programming from the likes of MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News itself.

Napolitano regularly defended the free market and lambasted the actions of the Federal Reserve, holding it accountable daily for the economic crisis that the US finds itself mired in. Congressman Ron Paul was a regular guest on the show, with a host of other informative analysts who were not merely about peddling the establishment party line or representing special interests.

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It is for these very reasons that many fans of the show suspect Napolitano has been axed by the corporate machine.

Regarding Napolitano’s future, Fox Business stated that the judge will be “continuing to make significant contributions to both FOX Business and FOX News” and would “be showcased throughout future programming on both networks”

“Currently one of the leading judicial analysts on television, Judge Napolitano will continue his role on both FOX Business and FOX News, providing key legal insights surrounding the growing intersection between Washington and Wall Street.” the statement read.

Linking to the press release on his Facebook page, Napolitano wrote “sad news friends, but don’t worry I’ll still be here defending liberty.”

Libertarian activist Lew Rockwell is spearheading a campaign to have Freedom Watch reinstated, writing on his website yesterday:

“If you are as outraged as I am at the cancellation of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch,” here is something you can do.”

Please contact Fox Business to ask them to reverse their decision.

Irena Briganti,
Senior Vice President Media Relations
Phone: 212-301-3608
Fax: 212-819-0816
E-Mail: irena.briganti@foxnews.com

“Be respectful but be sure to convey your outrage at this matter, and state that you and many others will boycott the network if the show is taken off the air.” Rockwell added.

The Romney Con

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Don’t be conned into nominating Mitt Romney!

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Another great video by .  Do look up the candidates voting history, do some homework.

For myself, I will choose one who is consistent, follows the Constitution, supports limited government and promotes personal freedom :)

Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution!

Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!

Forbes Op-ed Gives Glowing Endorsement of Ron Paul

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Source: http://www.prisonplanet.com

Kurt Nimmo

Remarkably, Forbes has allowed an editorial on its website that strongly endorses Ron Paul. Naturally, there are the standard op-ed caveats right up front – the opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Forbes – but despite this it is sincerely amazing the consummate anti-establishment presidential candidate would end up on the corporatized business-minded Forbes website.

The Benzinga editorial notes that Ron Paul is absolutely spot-on about the economy and has been for years.

QE3 and beyond, the devaluation of the dollar, massive unemployment, tumbling home prices, rising inflation, bankster bailouts, federal deficit spending, and toxic debt into perpetuity – all of it “could have been averted if we had taken heed of Dr. Ron Paul’s warnings years ago.”

This man has been fighting with absolute integrity and honesty for the values that this country was founded on for the last 30 years – sound money, balanced budgets, free markets, non-interventionist foreign policy and civil liberties. Most every other GOP Presidential candidate is an Establishment panderer who is beholden to entrenched special interests. Why should we trust another Establishment politician after being subjected to the lies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, not to mention nearly every other politician in Washington D.C.?

The Benzinga op-ed states that the 2010 presidential election “may present one of the last opportunities for the American people to rise up against the oligarchy that has run this country into the ground for their own personal benefit at the expense of the majority of the citizens of this deteriorating Republic.”

If Ron Paul can sufficiently stir the American populace, his ideas will take root even if he does not subsequently win the GOP nomination. If this happens, U.S. policy and the entire course of our country could shift much faster than most people realize. Nothing is more powerful than an idea, and few ideas are as powerful as the concept of liberty. It is time that we finally tried something different. Ron Paul represents real change.

The fact Ron Paul’s libertarian message has gained a foothold on the highly stage-managed American political landscape is a testament to the power of the alternative media and the dedication of activists determined to return the United States to a constitutional republic.

The corporate establishment media consistently ignores and downplays Paul, but this has not prevented his message of liberty from sweeping across the country, thanks primarily to alternative media and an open and free internet (for now).

Again, it is quite remarkable Forbes – known by the motto, “The Capitalist Tool” – would publish such an editorial. It is after all considered a stalwart corporate business publication along with Fortune and Business Week.

Is it possible some of the corporatists realize Ron Paul is the last hope to preserve and restore the bedrock constitutional principles that fostered an economic environment that created an abundance of prosperity and wealth the world had never experienced before?

[CIM Comment: Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution!]

Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site and donate today!

Ron Paul: The Movie

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Website: http://FreedomUniversity.org

Ron Paul: The Movie
Join the Freedom Revolution!

In an age of shameless hypocrisy
where all still swear allegiance to a Constitution
they have no intention to obey…

One man has stood for decades
against the tides of corruption…
Often he has stood alone…
No more.

{CIM Comment:Please deal with an honest message of Ron Paul, keeping your head in the sand serves no purpose, including your own!

Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site and donate today!

The Roads to War and Economic Collapse

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Source: http://www.activistpost.com

Paul Craig Roberts
Lew Rockwell

Dees Illustration

The day before the Thanksgiving holiday brought three extraordinary news items. One was the report on the Republican presidential campaign debate. One was the Russian President’s statement about his country’s response to Washington’s missile bases surrounding his country. And one was the failure of a German government bond auction.

As the presstitute media will not inform us of what any of this means, let me try.

With the exception of Ron Paul, the only candidate in either party qualified to be the president of the US, the rest of the Republican candidates are even worst than Obama, a president who had the country behind him but sold out the American people to the special interests.

No newly elected president in memory, neither John F. Kennedy nor Ronald Reagan, had the extraordinary response to his election as Barack Obama. A record-breaking number of people braved the cold to witness his swearing in ceremony. The mall was filled for miles distant from the Capitol with Americans who could not see the ceremony except as televised on giant screens.

Obama had convinced the electorate that he would end the wars, stop the violation of law by the US government, end the regime of illegal torture, close the torture prison of Guantanamo, and attend to the real needs of the American people rather than stuff the pockets of the military/security complex with taxpayers’ money.

Once in office, Obama renewed and extended the Bush/Cheney/neoconservative wars.

He validated the Bush regime’s assaults on the US Constitution. He left Wall Street in charge of US economic policy, he absolved the Bush regime of its crimes, and he assigned to the American people the financial cost necessary to preserve the economic welfare of the mega-rich.

One would think such a totally failed president would be easy to defeat. Given an historic opportunity, the Republican Party has put before the electorate the most amazingly stupid and vile collection of prospects, with the exception of Ron Paul who does not have the party’s support, that Americans have ever seen.

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