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Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

Posted by marshallz10 z9-10 CA (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 26, 12 at 13:24

Fred Reed, in a serious sober mood, has indicted the US of A as becoming a new Third World country but with special traits as becoming a superior nations of manifest destinies. In full (I donate to keep him going):

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The Receding Tide

Becoming Uzbekistan

Fred Reed March 26, 2012

Several things characterize countries of the Third Word, whatever precisely "Third World" means.

The first is corruption. America is rotten with it, but American corruption is distinct from corruption in, say, Guatemala or Thailand, being less visible and better organized.

Several major differences exist between the usual corruption in the Third World and that in America. In most of the Third World, corruption exists from top to bottom. Everyone and everything is for sale. Bribery amounts to an economic system, like capitalism or socialism. By contrast, in the United States, graft flourishes mostly at the level of government and commerce. You don�t (I think) slip an admissions official at Harvard twenty grand to accept your shiftless and dull-witted slug of a misbegotten offspring. Nor do you pay a local judge to drop dope charges against your teenager. And in the Guatemalas and Egypts of the planet, corruption tends to be personal. The briber and the bribed act as individuals.

In the United States, corruption occurs at the level of policy and contracts, between corporations, special interests, and Congress. It is done gracefully and usually legally. For example, Big Pharma pays Congress to insert, in some voluminous bill that almost no one will read, a clause saying that the government will pay list price for drugs instead of negotiating for a better price. Over time, this is worth hundreds of millions, paid by you. Yet the clause is legal. Or military industry pays Congress to buy an enormously expensive and unneeded airplane. It�s legal. Read the bill. Or agribusiness pays Congress to cough up large subsidies. Also legal.

In Mexico you pay your useless daughter�s useless teacher to give her grades she didn�t earn so that she can get into university. Corruption relies on individual initiative. By contrast, in America, corruption is a class-action industry. Large groups�blacks, women, Indians, unions�bribe or intimidate Congress into giving them special privilege: affirmative action, racial and gender set-asides, casinos, loans and preferences from the Small Business Administration according to sex and ethnicity. Corruption, plain and simple. But legal.

Second, unaccountable and often intrusive police not subject to control by the public. In America formal police departments rapidly grow more militarized, jack-booted, swatted-out, and their powers grow. A law-abiding citizen should never be afraid of the police, and a misbehaving cop should worry intensely when said law-abiding citizen records his badge number with intent to call the chief. Those days are over. Today the cops can bully, threaten, and harass, and there is precious little you can do about it. The proliferating laws against filming the police can have only one purpose, to prevent exposure of misbehavior. Third World.

Any organization involved in controlling a population is a de factor police outfit, as are TSA, "Homeland Security," the FBI, NSA, ICE, and so on. Against none of these does the citizen have any recourse. In principle, yes, but in practice, no. Third World, but far more efficient.

Third, lack of constitutional government. This is not the same as the lack of a constitution. The Soviet Union had an admirable constitution, and paid no attention to it. America heads rapidly in the same direction.

In America, the Constitution is largely and increasingly ignored by the government. Constitutionally the three branches of government are co-equal, but in practice the Supreme Court is of little consequence and Congress is the action arm of a corporate oligarchy. Constitutionally Congress must declare war, but now the president sends combat troops wherever he pleases and Congress reads about it in the Washington Post. The president can order citizens murdered, ignore habeas corpus, monitor and store email. The government can search you at will with no pretense of probable cause. Third World.

Fourth, impunity. In the bush world, the rich and powerful are never brought to trail regardless of their crimes. We are there. Wall Street runs a clear and thoroughly documented scam, the subprime-loan racket, doing immense damage to the country. How many went to jail? How many were tried? How many now have high positions in the federal government? Third World.

Fifth, a yawning gap between rich and poor. As the American economy declines, the middle class sags into the lower middle class. The sag takes many forms. Prices rise but incomes don�t. Houses go into foreclosure. Student loans tied to the houses of parents become backbreaking. Businesses hire people as individual contractors, with no benefits. Increasingly the young live with their parents. The ship is taking water.

Yet the rich prosper. In America they carefully remain inconspicuous, not flaunting their money. But they have it. Third World.

Sixth, a controlled press. Many Americans I suspect will insist that the press is free, because they are repeatedly told that it is, because they have nothing to which to compare it, and because the control is most adroitly managed. But it exists.

In America control does not work as it did in the USSR, by savagely punishing the least expression of undesired ideas; this would be obvious and arouse opposition. American control works on the principle of fooling enough of the people, enough of the time.

Strictly speaking, the US does have a free press. You can easily buy the books of David Duke, Karl Marx, Hitler, or Malcolm X. The trick is that few read. Television and newspapers rule, and they are owned by large corporations concerned with furthering the interests of large corporations.

Those interests are maximizing the viewership for advertising, which is where the money comes from; keeping the lid on in a country in which various groups would be at each other�s throats if demagogues were allowed to provide the spark; keeping corporations from suffering any sort of control, and furthering the political agendas of the media.

Thus you never, ever, allow serious criticism of Israel, and you never, ever, allow an articulate Palestinian to offer his views. You do not allow any coverage of crime by blacks, which might lead to social upheaval. You do not allow distressing reportage of the wars�a little girl looking in puzzlement at her bowels hanging out thanks to shrapnel. You do not do any serious investigative reporting of corporate corruption. And so on. Keep it bland. Keep it reassuring.

Don�t let, say, a cop talk about what really goes on, or a GI to talk about what soldiers really do in Afghanistan, and don�t let political debates touch on substance. Don�t allow, for example, unrehearsed questions: "Mr. Santorum, can you name in order the countries that border on Iran?" Oh no. One mustn�t reveal to the voters that neither they nor the candidates know what they are talking about. Better to maintain the illusion of Informed Citizens Engaging in Democracy.

Mexicans know what kind of government they have. Americans do not.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

This is a great read Marshall, and I agree with all of it but for one big exception:

In the paragraph beginning with "In Mexico" (sorry I can't be more specific, I'm having a lot of trouble today with my built in lap top mouse) I have a lot of problems with some of the statements he makes in that paragraph, but it's certainly possible I'm not processing the statements correctly.

In what way can a underdog or minority group be heard and hold Congress accountable to but not for organization directly to Congress itself? I really don't understand the alternative the author would think would be available or workable or, in fact, why he would think that minority political organization would contribute to third world "Uzbekistan".


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

Well, you do have 'legacy' admissions to top Ivy League schools.

Combine a fat check to the alumni fund along with your kid's application, and suddenly, those ACT scores aren't so bad......


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

Mylab, sorry but I am unclear as to your criticism of the ideas expressed in "In Mexico..." para. Can you be more specific?


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

David, there have always been legacy admission to top Ivy and other private colleges and universities. Given the amount of stress reported by some of my classmates, getting their children into the old alma mater still required very good grades, well-rounded experience, and top numbers on tests to qualify.

There is a lot of competition to attract and matriculate the best of the best at these kinds of prestigeous schools. More important has become enrollment of diverse student populations of high academic quality, so much so that some schools weight students with that component in mind during the selection process. I've done a bit of interviewing in the past for my college.


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

In the "In Mexico" paragraph, third line "large groups, Blacks Women Indians, Unions bribe or intimidate Congress into giving then special priviledges........."going on to say that it is legal corruption.

I don't get that line of thinking. How can special needs groups (and that is what they are due to American citizen's attitudes) get equality if they don't organize and then confront Congress, Congressmen specifically and then hold them accountable?

I hope I'm just reading it incorrectly and taking a meaning that doesn't exist.

Other than this, I thought it was really powerful stuff - a lot of disturbing things to think about concerning our "great democracy" and land of the free. Very disturbing.

Am I the only one who really DOES think that Canadians have it so darn good? They are naturally much more peaceful, including towards each other, as their general underlying attitude and way of life, they work well together, are forgiving and willing to overlook mistakes and own up to mistakes and correct them in unity and honestly work towards the betterment of the WHOLE -

and not feel the need to indulge in massive spending and paranoia and thus go and arm up - because those fools living downstairs have those issues covered quite nicely, thank you very much.

Canadians will just take all that "arm up" money and see to the health care and wellbeing of *all* Canadian citizens. Even for those so poor they pay little to any federal tax. And won't harbor unending, unyielding resentment in because of it.

I can't imagine what it must be like to live in such a country. I know I did once, but that was so long ago I honestly don't remember what it was like. I might have been too young by the time the glory days ended. Or out of country, for that matter.

Smart people, those Canadians. If we had a brain we would emulate them. But that won't happen, we don't have it in us.


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

I have the same objection as mylab:

Large groups -- blacks, women, Indians, unions -- bribe or intimidate Congress into giving them special privilege: affirmative action, racial and gender set-asides, casinos, loans and preferences from the Small Business Administration according to sex and ethnicity. Corruption, plain and simple.

I'm seeing more of Fred's prejudices than "corruption." Large groups? To describe African Americans, and Native Americans? Unions? (Don't I wish!) And for women, Fred has to ignore that females earn about 70% of that of males. Ignoring the economic injustices done to blacks, native Americans, and women is about the only way one could justlfy calling SBA set-asides (small as they are) as corruption. (And why no grumpiness about the Small Business Administration-- when a program is for small businesses, that's not corruption?)

If this is Fred sober...

For the rest, I believe he does better and goes with a straight-forward description.


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

Bueno!


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

Fred is an old exile from his rural Virginia roots, ex-Vietnam vet and reporter of military and later police beats. His is a self-confessed anti-feminist, anti-special rights for minorities, anti-crony capitalism, and anti-big corrupt government. He is anti-Drug War and decries the costs and incarceration of so many people. He is anti-stupid wars and anti-bloated military both in numbers and expenditures because of the military mind-set of not questioning orders or missions unless coming from liberal leaders. He has finally come over to recognize that the US has become a paramilitarized police state, especially in more populated states and regions.

For all his personal flaws, he continues to challenge comfortable thinking and behaviors, such as those anti- traits above. There are a lot of things he has expressed that I dislike, even despised, and I sometime stopped reading and moved on.

My take on what you are protesting is: lobbying by special interest groups for special congressional legislation and Departmental rules and regulations in exchange for votes or other renumerative considerations is equally corrupting. Governance remains for sale. Now the uber rich individuals and corporations can buy, or try to buy, elections through now-legal Superpacs. Organizations and individuals from the Democrat base can't seem to compete and have been marginalized through attrition and demonization.

So attack Fred if you must but see him also as an honest man in spite of some of his mean-spirited opinions.


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

Marshall, my quip re Ivy League schools / legacy admissions was directed at Fred's comment that he didn't think we'd gone that far -

I've posted/commented before about how the system we have of perfectly legal campaign contributes, combined with the amount of money - in the millions for a house seat, tens of millions for a senate seat, and hundreds of millions for the presidency - is just legalized bribery. Not to mention the 10:1 ratio of lobbyists to congresspersons, and their ability to bundle contributions.

Recently, I've tried to start a discussion about big money interests now tipping the scales in school board elections, in favor of for-profit online schools.


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RE: ///Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

And keep up the good work...

My concern about K-12 education is the importance of socialization of the population attuned to sets of common civic and social values, part of the "melting pot" process of 19th and 20th century US history. Can this large and diverse country survive the privatization of this process?


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RE: unlikely

Say the Pledge every morning to the internet-connected camera located on your computer screen, so they can check if you're standing up with hand over heart.


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RE: \\\\Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

You forgot your prayers first, or you have to bow to the deity with a moment of reverent silence.

Day-long sanctioning of text messaging too, I suspect.


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

From what he wrote and what you have observed about the man Marshall, I think I would completely agree with your accessment of him. He had some incredibly powerful and disturbing observations.

But boy, if he is married (or has a daughter) I feel for them! ;)

Thanks for this contribution. It would be nice if it was a long thread discussing it's worrisome contents.


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RE: Corruption for some, much superior to Uzbekistan

His is a self-confessed anti-feminist, anti-special rights for minorities, anti-crony capitalism, and anti-big corrupt government.

I can agree with being against crony capitalism and corrupt government, but the first two are difficult to tolerate especially in the current political/social climate. Perhaps being in Mexico he is less aware of the assault on women's reproductive rights and the increase in slurs and verbal attacks against minorities.

Here's another example that's cringe worthy:

Thus you never, ever, allow serious criticism of Israel, and you never, ever, allow an articulate Palestinian to offer his views. You do not allow any coverage of crime by blacks, which might lead to social upheaval. You do not allow distressing reportage of the wars -- a little girl looking in puzzlement at her bowels hanging out thanks to shrapnel. You do not do any serious investigative reporting of corporate corruption. And so on. Keep it bland. Keep it reassuring.

Again, perhaps being out of the country he is missing the local news which delights in reporting crime by minorities, and the politicians that do go on about 'certain people' and crime rates. And he exhibits no understanding of structural racism.

Is it a case of his rural roots? If he had been a part of a marginalized group, I would have thought that there might be more understanding. Or maybe he's of the "I got out so what's stopping them" mentality.

Or he's an ornery old coot who can write and hits enough bulls' eyes to have a following.


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