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Thread: Getting rich in a democracy

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    Getting rich in a democracy

    "In today’s Washington" making money, "and lots of it" is "a virtual certainty" for "some people," says the company town’s magazine. Exhibit A is former Republican Congressman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana. After serving as one of Newt Gingrich’s lieutenants, Tauzin "cashed out" by using his know-how of who to bribe and how by becoming a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist at $2.3 million a year.

    In a hilarious understatement, the Washingtonian soberly announces that "jobs with the federal government have paid relatively well" for a long, long time. Yes, but "in recent years, big money wealth has become so commonplace" in Washington that "it’s no longer special." There are more than 55,000 homes in the D.C. area, for example, that are worth more than $1 million, including Republican Party honcho Senator Bill Frist’s $20 million mansion that is featured in the article. It pays to be a "public servant." Average house prices in much of "sleepy" Howard County, Maryland, near D.C., are in the $900,000 range.

    All of this wealth is generated by what economists call "rent seeking." Plunder seeking is a better term. Among the administrators/perpetrators of Washington’s gargantuan wealth redistribution machine are 183,900 "everyday millionaires" whose net worth is between $2 million and $10 million; 24,887 "Rich But Don’t Know It" types who are worth between ten and fifty million; 7,200 "really rich" who are worth between a hundred and five-hundred million annually; and about 500 "tycoon rich" lobbyists, lawyers and rent seekers whose net worth is nearing a billion.


    "How did Washington get so rich?, the Washingtonian innocently asks. Well, "federal spending continues to set new records, with Washington getting a greater share of the new dollars." Between 1980 and today, the government’s spending in Washington has escalated from $4 billion to $52 billion. "This gusher of government money is the chief catalyst for Washington’s increasing prosperity." Aha! Mystery solved!

    The "good life" that is led by our rulers in Washington is quite pricey. The average "A-list" Washingtonian rent seeker spends about $90,000 a year on mortgage payments; over $24,000 on car payments; $50,000 on private-school tuition; $47,000 for a full-time, live-in nanny; and about $32,000 on a week’s vacation in Aspen and two weeks in the summer on Nantucket Island.

    Many Washington area neighborhoods are described by the magazine as "streets of gold," where "houses go for anywhere from $3 million for a simple McMansion to $13 million for a 20,000 square-foot estate. "Senator-turned lobbyist" Don Nickles lives in one such estate, as does "former congressman" and now lobbyist Dave McCurdy. Because there are so many more mega-millionaire lobbyists than there were say, thirty years ago, all of this wealth derived from plunder makes everything "more democratic," says the Washingtonian. Ah, there’s that magic word. If it’s done it the name of our national religion, democracy, then it must be fine and good.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo116.html
    Tell me why no one in America is marching to Washington with torches and pitchforks to burn the city to the ground? Who wants to be a responsible politician when you can make millions as a lobbyist, helping your employer make billions that will be extracted from the common people?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Tell me why no one in America is marching to Washington with torches and pitchforks to burn the city to the ground? Who wants to be a responsible politician when you can make millions as a lobbyist, helping your employer make billions that will be extracted from the common people?
    I think that is very well stated and I agree with you completely. We send way too much money to Washington. Sad thing is after this recent election, we can expect to send a lot more than we have over the past several years. I think that there should be a ban on lobbyists.
    "I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love." - Jim Carrey

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I think that is very well stated and I agree with you completely. We send way too much money to Washington. Sad thing is after this recent election, we can expect to send a lot more than we have over the past several years. I think that there should be a ban on lobbyists.
    They would probably lobby very hard against it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Great Point!

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Tell me why no one in America is marching to Washington with torches and pitchforks to burn the city to the ground? Who wants to be a responsible politician when you can make millions as a lobbyist, helping your employer make billions that will be extracted from the common people?
    And I'm sure EVERY last one of those lobbyists (at least since 2001) would privately tell you that they "didn't need government" to get where they are.....or that they are "self made" and that they would be richer without government interference.... Oh the hypocrisy and lack of humanity.....or at least honesty......

    Keep them rolling in Jaws
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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    . I think that there should be a ban on lobbyists.
    That's not a bad idea...if we are ready to discard the First Amendment.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    That's not a bad idea...if we are ready to discard the First Amendment.
    How about truly looking at how we interpret the first amendment. Because nowhere in there do I see: “No person shall discriminate against a person hired by a company who pays for significant gifts and campaign contributions in an attempt to way a persons vote, even though it is not in the best interest of the general public.”
    "I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love." - Jim Carrey

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    How about truly looking at how we interpret the first amendment. Because nowhere in there do I see: “No person shall discriminate against a person hired by a company who pays for significant gifts and campaign contributions in an attempt to way a persons vote, even though it is not in the best interest of the general public.”
    Your right but it does guarantee people the freedom of speech, which includes speaking to members of Congress. If you are a member of any group like the NRA, APA, or other professional or interest group you are part of the problem. In fact the State of Michigan has a lobbying representation.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Well, it should pay to be a public servant. That's how you get quality people. You seem to be confusing public servants with politicians and the two with lobbyists.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    That's not a bad idea...if we are ready to discard the First Amendment.
    I'm going to stop everyone right here from doing the usual "dear Santa, please fix America for Christmas" wish list because it is all completely irrelevant.

    Any discussion of what "we" should do or what law "we" should impose or repeal is a statement devoid of meaning. We control nothing. There is nothing that we can do that will have any impact on what the actual rulers, the congressmen, senators, and president, do, especially when lobbyists are dangling billions in front of their nose.
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb View post
    Well, it should pay to be a public servant. That's how you get quality people. You seem to be confusing public servants with politicians and the two with lobbyists.
    You are confusing cost with quality. Giving a bum sleeping on a sidewalk a billion-dollar job will not produce any quality. Giving a man whose only skill is smooth-talking politicians the same money is not producing quality either.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    Originally posted by jordanb
    Well, it should pay to be a public servant. That's how you get quality people. You seem to be confusing public servants with politicians and the two with lobbyists.

    I agree, three different personality traits

  11. #11
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
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    Lobbyists are good

    The lobbyist is one of the critical backbones of democracy. I spent a week in one of the state capitols pushing planning ideas. I learned how important the lobbyist is (especially when it comes to killing bad bills). Another thing. Many of the lobbyists make chicken's feed and some even volunteer for their cause.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  12. #12
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    $47,000? live-in? Where is the nearest nanny school?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    $47,000? live-in? Where is the nearest nanny school?
    Precisely what I was thinking, mike. Precisely.

    On the one hand, jaws, you say there is nothing for us to do and on the other you wonder why we aren't storming Washington with pitchforks. Which is it?

    As for me, I'm seeking redress for the egregious Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Precisely what I was thinking, mike. Precisely.

    On the one hand, jaws, you say there is nothing for us to do and on the other you wonder why we aren't storming Washington with pitchforks. Which is it?

    As for me, I'm seeking redress for the egregious Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
    I didn't day say there was nothing that we could do, just that this was one particular thing that could not be done. A statement like "we should outlaw [X]" makes no sense because we don't get to make the law. It is like say "we should move the sun out of its orbit." It makes no sense from all possible angles.

    That's why all the treads about the American government that get posted around here are so pointless. They are just wishlists of things the authors would like to see happen, without any plan or list of actions that would actually make them happen. To say "we should demand that our politicians change the law" or "we should get elected and change the law" are actual actionable items, although you can now clearly see what their odds of success are.



    If you don't like the PET airport, wait until you get Robert Bourassa avenue. Two terrible politicians immortalized by things they had no role in creating,

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    I'm going to stop everyone right here from doing the usual "dear Santa, please fix America for Christmas" wish list because it is all completely irrelevant.

    Any discussion of what "we" should do or what law "we" should impose or repeal is a statement devoid of meaning. We control nothing. There is nothing that we can do that will have any impact on what the actual rulers, the congressmen, senators, and president, do, especially when lobbyists are dangling billions in front of their nose.
    I think you rage caused you to miss my point. I was pointing out that our laws and founding principles protect a lobbyists ability to do their job.

    Also there on lobbyist on both sides of an issue causing a zero sum gain. To say that all Congressmen make all there legislative decisions based on how is offering the nicest trips and the best meals is naive.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    I think you rage caused you to miss my point. I was pointing out that our laws and founding principles protect a lobbyists ability to do their job.

    Also there on lobbyist on both sides of an issue causing a zero sum gain. To say that all Congressmen make all there legislative decisions based on how is offering the nicest trips and the best meals is naive.
    If a company is paying lobbyists millions a year then there certainly is something to gain from the venture.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I guess the point that I was talking about is that the big lobbyists (as we know them today) tend to send rather large campaign contributions to a particular candidate, and when they are in office, I would not be surprised if some of these politicians make more from the lobbyists than they do from their paychecks.

    And the APA does not lobby in the US... only in China.
    "I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love." - Jim Carrey

  18. #18
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    I didn't day say there was nothing that we could do, just that this was one particular thing that could not be done. A statement like "we should outlaw [X]" makes no sense because we don't get to make the law. It is like say "we should move the sun out of its orbit." It makes no sense from all possible angles.

    That's why all the treads about the American government that get posted around here are so pointless. They are just wishlists of things the authors would like to see happen, without any plan or list of actions that would actually make them happen. To say "we should demand that our politicians change the law" or "we should get elected and change the law" are actual actionable items, although you can now clearly see what their odds of success are.
    I would point out, though, that this IS the Friday Afternoon Club, not some think tank or policy board. This IS the place where people can sit back and riff on ideas. "What if..."

    I see no harm in imagining alternate realities. Why be so hard on folks?

    Besides, many might say that your idea of a privitized city has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming reality also. And yet you continue to develop the idea. And why not?!

    Go easy on people and give them the same level of respect you want for yourself. Which is not to say avoid debate - just don't dismiss "all" people's thoughts as "pointless." Its frustrating and does nothing to promote discussion. If you would like people to develop their thoughts more - prod them, don't imply they are stupid.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian
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    Very interesting. . .

    I spent Thanksgiving in Anapolis, MD right across the bay from Cheney's and Rummy's houses (so they said). I met some really smart, interesting people who work in Washington. They all make decent livings, not excessive, and they are all involved in making policy in one way or another. An analyist and lobbyist for an international human rights non-profit, an IT guy for an intelligence agency, and a world bank political scientist who is interested in going back to school for a planning masters.

    The problem isn't lobbyists, per se, but the "moral flexiblity" of politicians who take their bribes. We want to have access to politicians, but we don't want that access to be only a factor of wealth. There are many loopholes in ethics legislation, and many subtle forms of influence pedaling. Greed isn't one of the seven deadly sins for nothing.

    Off topic: Nannies really can make that kind of salary, and believe me, they earn it. It is similar in NYC.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm....

    Quote Originally posted by Future Planning Diva View post
    Very interesting. . .

    I spent Thanksgiving in Anapolis, MD right across the bay from Cheney's and Rummy's houses (so they said). I met some really smart, interesting people who work in Washington. They all make decent livings, not excessive, and they are all involved in making policy in one way or another. An analyist and lobbyist for an international human rights non-profit, an IT guy for an intelligence agency, and a world bank political scientist who is interested in going back to school for a planning masters.

    The problem isn't lobbyists, per se, but the "moral flexiblity" of politicians who take their bribes. We want to have access to politicians, but we don't want that access to be only a factor of wealth. There are many loopholes in ethics legislation, and many subtle forms of influence pedaling. Greed isn't one of the seven deadly sins for nothing.

    Off topic: Nannies really can make that kind of salary, and believe me, they earn it. It is similar in NYC.
    Sounds kinda like your trying to define "Corruption" but are having trouble just saying that..... Lobbyists and corruption go hand in hand when anything is allowed to be traded between the two beyond words, ideas and a smile. A lobbyist should be at the back of the line for EVERY congress person's agenda each day:

    1. Doing Business and voting on law.
    2. Meeting with district citizens
    3. Going to the bathroom
    4. Eating
    5. Checking e-mails
    6. Talking to other congressional members
    7. Spending time with a lobbyist

    Now, back to the real world......this all gets back to campaign finance reform in my mind......think about it.....Most lobbyists wouldn't have power if their financial backers didn't have big $$ invested in politicians
    Skilled Adoxographer

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I guess the point that I was talking about is that the big lobbyists (as we know them today) tend to send rather large campaign contributions to a particular candidate, and when they are in office, I would not be surprised if some of these politicians make more from the lobbyists than they do from their paychecks.

    And the APA does not lobby in the US... only in China.
    Lobbyist can only send $2,000 per election to a candidate just like you and me. Lobbyist can offer meals, discounted air travel and the notorious "education trips." These trips can be conferences, visits to cities, counties or countries that have in acted the law being discussed or in Tom Delays case multiple trips to St Andrews in Scotland to play golf. This is what needs to change is the trips and the air travel.

    Any yes the APA does have lobbyist on retainer in DC and through out the country dealing with state legislatures.

    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Sounds kinda like your trying to define "Corruption" but are having trouble just saying that..... Lobbyists and corruption go hand in hand when anything is allowed to be traded between the two beyond words, ideas and a smile. A lobbyist should be at the back of the line for EVERY congress person's agenda each day:

    1. Doing Business and voting on law.
    2. Meeting with district citizens
    3. Going to the bathroom
    4. Eating
    5. Checking e-mails
    6. Talking to other congressional members
    7. Spending time with a lobbyist

    Now, back to the real world......this all gets back to campaign finance reform in my mind......think about it.....Most lobbyists wouldn't have power if their financial backers didn't have big $$ invested in politicians
    If you spend any time on the Hill or with staffers you will realize this his how they spend their time. You need to add a 1b which is dealing with constituent complaints and issues about federal agencies and move checking their email above eating and going to the bathroom. Most Congressional staffs habve 8 or so people on the hill. Of those 3 or 4 deal with policy and legislation. For this staff to be educated on every bill they have to rely on lobbyists. There is no way a staff of 4 plus the Congressman can be versed in every aspect of policy in the the different subjects.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  22. #22
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Lobbyist can only send $2,000 per election to a candidate just like you and me. Lobbyist can offer meals, discounted air travel and the notorious "education trips." These trips can be conferences, visits to cities, counties or countries that have in acted the law being discussed or in Tom Delays case multiple trips to St Andrews in Scotland to play golf. This is what needs to change is the trips and the air travel.

    Any yes the APA does have lobbyist on retainer in DC and through out the country dealing with state legislatures.
    $2K in hard money, yes... But all those extra’s (on both sides) add up big time. There is also so much under the table stuff that it is ridicules. The only thing educational about golf in Scotland is realizing that you are not Tiger Woods, beyond that, it’s a vacation gift.

    No money, no gifts, only documents containing information. That should be the extent of any lobbying.
    "I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love." - Jim Carrey

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    $2K in hard money, yes... But all those extra’s (on both sides) add up big time. There is also so much under the table stuff that it is ridicules. The only thing educational about golf in Scotland is realizing that you are not Tiger Woods, beyond that, it’s a vacation gift.

    No money, no gifts, only documents containing information. That should be the extent of any lobbying.
    I concur. The same rule should also be instituted to Pharmaceutical Reps. Let the information speech for itself. Hopefully the new Congress will have the stones to implement such a rule.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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