The Power Principle

by: Mike Lux

Mon May 24, 2010 at 13:00


America's founding fathers got some things really wrong (that slavery thing, for example), but they understood one thing really well: the kind of representative democracy society they were trying to build would never work unless power was widely distributed among many different actors in society. This fundamental idea was at the heart of Tom Paine's Common Sense, Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, the checks and balances devised in the Constitutional Convention, and the foundational arguments by Madison, Jay, Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. These pluralist theories about democratic governance have been proven right over the course of our history. When the slave-holding elite became too dominant a power in the mid-1800s, our country was torn apart in civil war. When the robber barons got too powerful in the late 1800s, our government became deeply corrupted. When the financial elites on Wall Street got too much economic and political power, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of today resulted. When any small group of corporations get big enough to sweep away serious competition they inevitably get big enough to control many politicians and regulators as well. What happens after that are market distortions and insider deals that make those companies ever more powerful. Once they have enough market and political power, they get even greedier, arrogant and big enough that when they make speculative mistakes, they can hurt the entire economy. And with regulators and politicians and looking the other way because of their political influence, the worst case scenario happens- and if the cycle is not stopped, it happens again.

This pattern follows like night follows day. This is why I have been saying to people for the last year that the number one goal of financial reform should be to lessen the power of the big banks- not to punish them, but to make it possible for our economy and democracy to effectively function again. By this standard, the bills passed by the House and Senate still far short. A NYTimes article today sums up the dynamic:

The financial reform legislation making its way through Congress has Wall Street executives privately relieved that the bill does not do more to fundamentally change how the industry does business. Despite the outcry from lobbyists and warnings from conservative Republicans that the legislation will choke economic growth, bankers and many analysts think that the bill approved by the Senate last week will reduce Wall Street's profits but leave its size and power largely intact.

Don't get me wrong: the best provisions in the House and the best provisions in the Senate are steps forward. Solid progress will be made in several key areas including consumer protection, opening up the Fed for an audit, and derivatives reform. There are also some terrific surprises that got added to the bill during the floor debate, like the Durbin amendment regulating credit card swipe fees, am amendment that will help retail businesses and consumers alike. Like Ted Kaufman, Sherrod Brown and other progressives, I support passing this bill even though I think it falls short in critical areas. But let's not make any mistake here: let's applaud the progress, but be very clear-eyed that this bill doesn't come close to solving the problem. The only way to stop future economic meltdowns and restore a healthy balance to our economy and our democracy is to break up these massive banking conglomerates and keep the speculators away from the traditional bankers.

The reason that Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR go down in history as our country's greatest Presidents is that they understood the crisis that too much power in too few hands had caused, and moved boldly to take the powerful on. We need that kind of leadership today.

Mike Lux :: The Power Principle

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The Power Principle | 16 comments
<snip><bold>"We need that kind of leadership today. " </bold></snip> (0.00 / 0)
And now we need some way to achieve that necessary action. I do not know if; Obama simply does not want to: as so many here have delineated so often, or has other plans: as so many have argued for and against so convincingly, or, as so many fear, Obama is not the person we hoped, and is by nature not in any way a progressive, nor agent of change, but action must be taken, Obama must be addressed, or Obama must be sidestepped as an ineffective fool.

I think we need a Dear Mr. President Message, written collectively by a mass leadership urgently calling fo0r the actions that cannot be avoided, and must be taken.

I hope for Governor Dean and several important others, please contribute below other suggestions, to write and sign and buy a full page ad in several papers, NYT LAT etc.
The time for waiting has ended, for so much.

In my opinion the army must take over the oil spill (and BP must be charged) and banks must be broken up. That is the primary place of action NOW, not in two days, but now. The threat to so much life on earth, the devastation for generations to come must be addressed now. The time for bipartisan, for waiting for niceness, must end, there are too many crises, too much time has been lost, our nation is threatened too greatly.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


I agree (0.00 / 0)
but what will you do when your pleas are ignored and/or given just enough lip-service to gain your support in the next election?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
"or Obama must be sidestepped as an ineffective fool. " as found above. (0.00 / 0)
In which case we demand that congress step up, and we run elections in just that manner, and drive to find encourage draft and support a progressive for President in 2012.

I have said Obama or better in 2012 before, I say it again. I will not abide people threatening to let Beck Palin in 2012 (or any Republican ftm),

but it may be time, and would be time after the full page ad and there is no movement, to begin the process of encouraging another to challenge him.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Strong primary opponent for President Obama? (0.00 / 0)
Or an alternative party candidate in 2012?

What does this phrase mean?

I will not abide people threatening to let Beck Palin in 2012 (or any Republican ftm),

Is it a threat when the other of the two mainstream parties chooses their candidates? I thought that was how our system works...

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
To suggest that because Chamberlain is ineffective stopping fascism raging accross (0.00 / 0)
pre WWII Europe, does not mean that allowing Eurpoean fascists to have power is in anyway sane, capice?

Or is that hard to understand. Obama is not doing enough to stop, not just the actuallity of the damages, the potential for damages from conservatives, not doing enough to stop the right from growing in power, not doing enough to reverse Republican damage, is not am argument for letting republicans win anything. It is an argument for more forceful, more progressive, more involved people to take up the fight against all that is corporate and anti-progressive in America.

Does that spell out the needed tasks in greater clarity spitball?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Great (0.00 / 0)
Now answer the question in a manner not quite so redolent with the rhetorical flourishes used by those seeking to sow confusion and misdirection rather than anything that might even stand the slightest chance of being interpreted as an actual response.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Really? I mean really? Seth Meyers clarity then. (0.00 / 0)
Letting the republicans back in, because someone is not stopping and reservsing republican damage enough, is like letting the republicans back in because someone is not stopping and reversing republicanism enough.

It is its own stupid. Dumb as dumb. It can't be compared to anything dumber, because it is at the bottom already.

You are never misdirected when called upon to organize with others on the issues that matter to get action, and prevent damage.

That is my florid response.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Who is voting for Republicans? (0.00 / 0)
Those filling an oval for alternative party candidates, or those filling ovals for corporoDems, Blue Dogs, and/or centrists?

I know only one voters has to pinch their nose - and it ain't me.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Our responsibility to govern in a democracy includes not just picking the best (0.00 / 0)
but preventing the worst as well. It's harder, but no one ever said democracy was easy. It isn't, democracy is hard. If you don't do the hard work of organizing voers it falls to someone else, and there are people working very hard every day to organize the voters into blocks that will keep America subservient to banks. And they cheat too.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Sometimes "None of the Above" (0.00 / 0)
may be the hardest way to vote. Every single time I write-in "Art Temple" on my ballot, I cry a little bit inside.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
A common mistake, but its a mistake still. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
No mistake (0.00 / 0)
from my perspective. Are you finished condescending yet?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
lol (0.00 / 0)
I am so sorry that you feel condescended to. From my great height and power. Is pretending that you are being attacked make you feel better about not being able to defend positions?

I always wonder why you seek me out to attack, and why you then always pretend that you are being attacked.

Its almost Republican of you.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Which one of us has been lecturing the other on how to vote properly? (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Look at the thread again spitty, from first to last, I am sure it will be obvious. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
If it needs to be spelled out, you asked me, over and over, what I meant, then you called me names. (0.00 / 0)
Isn't that obvious?  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
The Power Principle | 16 comments
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