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Days When I Have No Hope for the Democratic Party

[ 90 ] December 10, 2011 |

Good lord:

The story of how the for-profit colleges survived the threat of a major federal crackdown offers a case study in Washington power brokering. Rattled by the administration’s tough talk, the colleges spent more than $16 million on an all-star list of prominent figures, particularly Democrats with close ties to the White House, to plot strategy, mend their battered image and plead their case.

Anita Dunn, a close friend of President Obama and his former White House communications director, worked with Kaplan University, one of the embattled school networks. Jamie Rubin, a major fund-raising bundler for the president’s re-election campaign, met with administration officials about ATI, a college network based in Dallas, in which Mr. Rubin’s private-equity firm has a stake.

A who’s who of Democratic lobbyists — including Richard A. Gephardt, the former House majority leader; John Breaux, the former Louisiana senator; and Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, ran Mr. Obama’s transition team — were hired to buttonhole officials.

Why should I have any faith that the system will ever work, even when we elect Democrats?

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  1. DrDick says:

    We have the best government that money can buy.

  2. gmack says:

    Why should I have any faith that the system will ever work, even when we elect Democrats?

    Hmm. As a labor and environmental historian, you bloody well already know the answer: the system is working the way it was designed to, namely, to protect those who are part of it and can use it. Any genuine alteration to these dynamics will most likely come from extra-instituitonal sources. And no, this does not mean that we should all go vote for the Green party (though such action might make sense in some cases); but it also doesn’t mean that leftist politics should only be focused on voting for more and better Democrats (though again, this can be a good idea too). Rather, under current circumstances, some of the most important forms of politics are and must be occurring outside of, though often in conjunction with, traditional electoral politics and official policy making.

  3. Triplanetary says:

    Ugh. Our country’s future depends on quality education. You don’t even have to be a frothing anti-capitalist to see that for-profit universities are a clear example of profit-seeking standing in opposition to quality and rather than encouraging it.

  4. LosGatosCA says:

    Just bend over and take it. It only hurts when you resist.

  5. c u n d gulag says:

    To paraphrase someone from an earlier post (and I wish I could remember who):
    Maybe it’s not the “more and better” Democrats we need to focus on – just the “better?”

  6. R Johnston says:

    Democrats working to keep the Washington Post in business would be pathetic even if it weren’t due to lobbying on behalf of the educational scam wing of the paper.

  7. Taylor says:

    This part made for a good Saturday morning laugh:

    While Ms. Dunn visited the White House about 80 times since leaving the administration, she said she was careful to avoid talking to former colleagues about the issue because she is not a lobbyist and such contact would violate the ethics policies put in place by Mr. Obama regarding lobbying by former advisers.

    The other impression this story leaves is what cheap whores they have in Washington. $16M is chump change for this industry.

    • R Johnston says:

      It costs a lot less to pay people to do what they want to do than to pay people to do what they don’t want to do.

      Democrats want to be policy idiots who funnel billions of dollars of loans to fake educational businesses and who get beaten up by the editorial and front pages of the Washington Post.

    • UserGoogol says:

      My understanding is that the political science theory is that politicians aren’t actually being bought per se; it’s hard to find a rigorous direct correlation between money spent and votes. Where lobbyists are able to earn their pay is by buying access: when politicians are trying to weigh the pros and cons of a contentious issue, the rich are able to swoop in and make sure that their side of the argument is explained as generously as possible, whereas the non-elite have trouble arguing their side, so politicians tend to skew to the side of the people able to chat them up in the lobby.

      The idea that politicians are just whores just seems contrary to the facts, indeed partially because of what you’re saying right now. If they just wanted money, there’s so much more they could be doing to get more money. The problem is that running a government is hard, and the deck is stacked up against them to make it even harder.

      • Good point.

        It’s the difference between “the rich can afford good lawyers” and “the rich can afford to bribe judges.”

        The former problem, while not as morally repugnant as the latter, is a lot trickier to solve.

      • Ed says:

        If they just wanted money, there’s so much more they could be doing to get more money.

        Of course politicians don’t want just money. They also want power and attention and fame and the most intense ones want a place in the history books. Republicans generally are satisfied to get their gold and sit on it, like the dragon in Gardner’s Grendel, but Democrats are often more conflicted. They want to do well but they also want to think that they are doing good. The two goals are rarely compatible.

        The non-elites can and do make their voices heard. Money makes the politicians deaf.

      • Taylor says:

        Explain to me how Dick Gephardt is not a whore.

  8. Why should I have any faith that the system will ever work, even when we elect Democrats?

    Who ever said you should “have faith?”

    Your odds are better, that’s all.

    • Walt says:

      That’s a good way to put it.

    • Shorter Joe Lowell: Vote good cop.

      You won’t be beaten to death quite as quickly.
      ~

      • I’m all ears for your solution.

        Oddly enough, all I ever get is crickets.

        Except for that Nader thing.

        Which brings us back to playing the odds.

        • Linnaeus says:

          Play the odds, but then work to increase your odds, i.e., better Democrats.

          • Certainly.

            The thing is, you never see the “more Democrats” side holding forth on the uselessness of “better Democrats.”

            While you frequently see the “better Democrats” people holding forth on the uselessness of “more Democrats.”

            I mean, look at this thread. Is there a single comment from anyone – has there ever been a comment written here – that is the “more Democrats” equivalent of what “ifthethunder….” wrote?

            • Rarely Posts says:

              If you talk to Democrats involved in politics in Washington DC (and I’m including lowly staffers and low-level activists along higher level political appointees), you regularly hear heavy criticism of the “better Democrats” position from the “more Democrats” side.

              Lots of Democrats believe that every primary challenge to an incumbent is deeply stupid because it sucks money out of the general campaign budgets. Lots of Democrats love any incumbent and any self-financed candidate, full-stop. They don’t need to hear anymore than that.

              • JoyfulA says:

                Yep, even when the Democratic incumbent was a Republican until a few weeks before, e.g., Arlen Specter. Oh, how the Democratic powers that be, from the president to the county chairs, were delighted to have an incumbent running and insisted we should be happy, too.

            • mark f says:

              has there ever been a comment written here – that is the “more Democrats” equivalent

              I was for not forcing Lieberman out after the ’08 election.

    • BradP says:

      I agree with your sentiment here, but for a group of people who want to see a such a large amount of the social welfare managed by a central government, I would hope you would be able to manage a little faith.

    • chris says:

      Who ever said you should “have faith?”

      Well, not me, that’s for sure. Faith in government is actively harmful. Government should be subjected to constant scrutiny by the people.

      …But you shouldn’t discard a flawed tool for being flawed until you have considered the alternative and whether you have any better tools handy, and that goes just as much for political parties as it does for government itself (which, as an institution created and staffed by humans, is probably going to be flawed in one way or another most of the time).

      Improving government is a never-ending process and sometimes feels a lot like whack-a-mole, but it really is important to keep it up anyway. Because it keeps rotting even when you’re not looking it over and fixing the broken parts.

  9. patrick II says:

    …A who’s who of Democratic lobbyists — including Richard A. Gephardt, the former House majority leader

    I lived in Gephardt’s district, voted for him and even worked the phones for him and even met him once at a Cardinals baseball game. I am now embarrassed by all of that. The guy has just been on sale. While ex-republican congressional leaders have been all over the media supporting republican positions, our retired democratic house leader is cashing out has lobbied against even the democratic signature bill, the ACA.

    I wish the “Common Good” had a lobbying budget so these democratic vultures could be paid for what they used to say the stood for, because evidently being paid is all that counts.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      Yes, whores, being far more noble creatures who actually work and earn their money, must look down upon former Democratic politicians and their lobbying.

      Someone needs to tell Dick that trolling Greyhound stations in a seedy raincoat looking to satisfy basic human needs is a far more noble endeavor than anything that now worthless and soulless POS has done recently.

      And you don’t want to know how I really feel…

    • wiley says:

      It’s called “unions” and “DAV” and “ACLU” and such. Perhaps some cooperation among these?

  10. jeer9 says:

    Reform of the party from within remains possible. Even as we blog, progressive activists are tirelessly working to wrest control and power at the state and local levels from the corporate hacks and Third Way bureaucrats who refuse to promote popular policy. Eventually, their efforts will dramatically impact the backroom decisions of the party bosses such that they cede some of their clout to the intrepid idealists. The system can work, but only if we give up the dream that an outside creative force will significantly alter the political paradigm. That way lies inevitable ruin. OWS will learn this the hard way. We need to give Obama one more chance. I’m sure once he wins re-election he will clear the dreck from his administration and govern like the sensible moderate Republican he promised to be. 2012 is shaping up as a very difficult year, and even if it is near impossible to find a 2% difference between the parties on any number of issues you just know Mittens and Newtie will be 100 times worse. I was going to vote Green but then Obama’s decision on Plan B made me realize he’s vastly superior to Gingrich whose comment about children doing janitorial work at their elementary schools will almost certainly encourage the sort of unsupervised association that will lead to the need of such pills. As it is, adults are getting screwed. We must protect the children, and we all know which party does that best.

    • wiley says:

      Speaking as an experienced, professional, and gifted in-home caregiver— that 2% often means the difference between life and death for a lot of people that many of the people claiming to be “progressive” evidently don’t give a damn about. Better to just let them die for the sake of purity, is it?

      • jeer9 says:

        Suggestions about how to move the Dems left are welcome. Framing the problem as one of purity doesn’t help move the party much either way, even if it does make a person feel more like the adult.

        • wiley says:

          Yeah, well wanting to scrap what saves those lives for the sake of purity isn’t exactly being an adult. Now that you’ve given me the real world lecture, would you like to acknowledge that?

          • jeer9 says:

            I thought I got the real world lecture from you when my sarcasm about reform of the Dems from within implied that I wanted others to die -an assertion fully supported by your grasp of my political criticism. I don’t think you need advice from anyone. You’ve pretty much got everyone figured out which of course makes you the experienced, professional, gifted person you are.

      • that 2% often means the difference between life and death for a lot of people that many of the people claiming to be “progressive” evidently don’t give a damn about.

        Why should they?

        It’s not the difference between life and death to them, or their buddies.

        I mean, look at the quip about the Plan B decision. One party’s leadership wants Plan B to be freely available to adult women and available by prescription to minors. The other wants people who make Plan B available jailed on felony charges.

        You know, same-same, as long as you don’t have a uterus, or give fuck about anyone who does.

        • wiley says:

          Yeah. From what I’ve seen, “Progressives” are dominated by nihilists, misogynists, and childish men who never had any responsibility for, and apparently never really cared about anyone but themselves. Right now, the term “Progressive” doesn’t impress me as being liberal or promising at all. Just another group on young men trying to get the drop on their fathers.

      • lawguy says:

        Ok, look right now there is no difference at all in where the two parties are taking us. They are both headed to the exact same place. The republicans are going the express route, while the democrats are taking the more scenic leisure route.

        Those people who will die if we don’t vote for the democrats now are just different people than those who will die a few more years down the road if we do vote for democrats.

        • wiley says:

          I’ll keep that in mind as I watch the best friend I ever had die slowly from organ rejection. Thanks for putting that into perspective for me. He’s “just” dying instead of “different people down the road.” Every time I look at him and think of our twelve year history I’ll think “Ah, fuck it— It’s either him or some nebulous other in someone’s imagined future, so might as well just let him die now. The lives of individual people don’t really mean anything.”

          • Walt says:

            I like your arguments in general, wiley, but this line of argument is disgusting. Yes, everyone who disagrees with you wants your friend to die. Come on.

            • wiley says:

              My friend is part of the group that doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of progressives because the health care reform was not single payer or didn’t have the public option.

              If you expect me to pretend that the political is not personal and that when someone says, “Those people who will die if we don’t vote for the democrats now are just different people than those who will die a few more years down the road if we do vote for democrats,” that their philosophy isn’t as threatening to my friend’s life as the philosophy of a rabid right-winger then you’re asking me to engage in denial, and as an advocate for all disabled people, I will NOT do that.

              Perhaps you should ask yourself why bringing a real example of what the results of such philosophy would be in this “real world” (I’ve hearing so much about all my adult my life) is a cheap shot to you? Does bringing up how policy effects flesh and blood people and can make the difference between living and dying shed a light you consider to be too negative on what some people might call “ideals”? Is reality too inconvenient for you? Would examining your ideals in the light of how they would affect real people if they were enacted sully your beautiful mind?

              • Walt says:

                And how many people are going to die because we don’t have single payer? How many people are going to die because you or someone close to you eats meat, or drives a car, or because you’re an American living a modern American lifestyle? How many fewer people would have died in Iraq if you had the courage of your convictions and assassinated George W. Bush? How much suffering in Bangladesh would be averted if you weren’t too lazy to do something about global warming, like become an ecoterrorist?

                The idea that you are the only person who’s interested in real people is pretty adolescent. It’s Republican-level reasoning. I’m sure that if David Brooks hasn’t written a column explaining how liberals don’t care about real people — who all drive SUVs and want to cut taxes for the rich — that he’ll do it soon. I’m surprised you don’t mention “pointed-headed liberals” while you’re at it.

  11. I’ve been going on the theory that the US has become a proto-fascist banana republic, though not a failed state yet. I’ve just been reading about the Pennsylvania judges (at least one a Democrat) who sentenced 4,000 kids to detention in a private prison and got a ~$1,000,000 kickback. What’s striking to me is how little uproar there was about this, and how it didn’t change anyone’s mind about anything. Strictly business as usual — the same old radicals, libertarians, and liberals said the same thing they always do, and were ignored as usual, and the public in general may have lifted an eyebroww, but the story was quickly forgotten.

    Same for all the mistaken identity no-knock raids, some of which end up in killings.

    • Anonymous says:

      That story did get a fair amount of play in major outlets when they were sentenced.

      how it didn’t change anyone’s mind about anything.

      Out of curiosity, what should this case have “changed our minds” about under more ideal circumstances? It confirmed by view that evil and corrupt people exist, and they are evil and corrupt in creatively horrifying ways. What are you looking for? Less judicial discretion in sentencing? Possibly a good idea, but I don’t really have much faith in prosecutors, either. It isn’t a particularly useful case for thinking about the every injustices of our criminal justice system–for such cases the extra layer of greed/corruption/evil on the part of the judges gets in the way of seeing the systemic problems, which are far more banal.

      • patrick II says:

        What I would be looking for is the acknowledgement that “private enterprise” was the core of the problem here and the privatization of prisons is just one public service on the long list of republican attempts at the privatization public services. I would look at this case as a particular example of why that is generally a bad idea.

        • c u n d gulag says:

          Patrick,
          Yup.
          We’ve all been watching this same ‘privatization’ horror movie for over 30 years now, and too many of us still think there may be a happy ending if we just keep doing the same things over and over, but pray for the better results that are promised.

          In this particular horror movie, it would appear that the Zombies did, indeed, eat our brains.

          American’s don’t absorb any wisdom, but we sure can suck up some propaganda!

          And too many gullible morons in this nation are still waiting for their money, but the only things “trickling down” are snickers, laughter, and the occasional outright guffaws from the rich at how P.T. Barnum (or whoever actually said it) was wrong, and the rate of ‘sucker’s born’ is much higher than 1 every second.
          And those are the only ones they want to allow to have the right to vote.

          But it’s all ok to the morons, because as long as they have women, black and brown people, and gays, with less rights that they can look down on, then Jesus is still shining his ever-loving light upon them.

          I keep telling people that “Idiocracy” wasn’t just a movie – it was a future documentary in the same way that “1984” was a future non-fiction best-selling guide to political language.

        • gmack says:

          I agree with your reading of the event, but I think we it’s important to note that there are other readings that would lead to different kinds of conclusions. One could read the event as merely a case of a lone corrupt judge, in which case one could conclude that, basically, the system works (i.e., there are corrupt individuals but they got caught, and though the matter is a tragedy, no further action is required but to punish the wrong doer). I could even imagine an idiot-libertarian reading, wherein the idea is that the cause of the events was that there isn’t enough private enterprise.

          My claim, anyway, isn’t that all these interpretations are equally valid–far from it–but that we cannot expect the “facts” of the case to do our political work for us. Facts, that is to say, are not self-interpreting. If you believe that this case illustrates the fundamental corruption of the justice system, and that this corruption is directly linked to the introduction of private prisons (and I agree with both claims), then this is a reading that has to be articulated and promoted by way of organized power. In other words, we have to mobilize these facts on behalf of our own political vision. We should not imagine that that these facts about the case will somehow spontaneously induce people to come to share our critique of the criminal justice system, nor should we be disappointed when this doesn’t happen. For who knows, maybe next year, new social movements will start talking about these issues in a more serious way, and then the critiques might start gaining some traction. Stranger things have happened.

          • What the fuck are you going on about? Is this leftover verbiage from something else you were writing?

            “One could, one could imagine”. Sure. One could also say that the kids probably had it coming to them even if they weren’t actually technically guilty of anything. One could say that this means that judges aren’t paid enough. This country seems irremediably ruined and destroyed, and in a ruined and destroyed proto-fascist banana republic one could do all kinds of things.

            • LeeEsq says:

              What gmack is saying is that even though what the facts reveal might be obvious to people on this site, they might reveal something different but equally obvious to other people. Most commentators here would look at the Pennsylvania judicial scandal and obviously see it as a result of privatization of government functions. Others could easily conclude that the system works because the corrupt judges and guilty parties were discovered and punished.

              Basically, there is no such thing as self-evident truth. What facts reveal must be constantly pointed out to people by a dedicated organization.

              • Where did I say that there was such a thing as self-evident truth? Did I wander into Philosophy 001?

                This is the kind of thing that would arouse national indignation in a healthy society. It’s laid on top of the various other red flags.

                A society where something like this gets an essentially ho-hum response (except for those individually involved) is a proto-fascist banana republic. This was my point. There are no epistemological subtleties, just how much authoritarianism and arbitrary imprisonment people are willing to accept, and it’s far too much.

                Thanks for the silly, pointless distraction though. Now trot back to your class.

                • gmack says:

                  Is it worth pointing out to you that nothing I said (or Lee Esq said) actually disagrees with any point you’ve made? Part of my point, after all, was simply to elaborate a bit further on why the case you cited didn’t produce the kind of response you and patrick II want. (I’m also raising the concern that too many folks on the left overlook the political work that has to get done to counter the modes of interpretation that produce the kind of indifference you describe, but that’s a different matter). In any case, I really have no idea why you see the need to respond as you have.

                • I don’t see any point in what you said. It just seems like a generic Phil 001 argument that does not respond to what I said, but just restates part of it in an unfruitful way.

                  What I’ve said is that the bland response to this shows how far we’ve gone down the authoritarian road, and how accepting we are of gross violations of rights. Different people do interpret facts differently, and the average American (and media person) interprets these facts either in an authoritarian way, or with utter indifference to the issues in question.

                  Which is what I call moving down the authoritarian road.

        • wiley says:

          Agreed. Also, I would like it to be acknowledged that private enterprise is responsible for most of the waste, fraud, and frivolous lawsuits.

          After five years as an in-home caregiver for a person on the transplant waiting list, and keeping that person compliant, we both went through the ordeal of the transplant itself. It’s huge. It’s profound. It’s terrifying. While I was in the waiting room (getting intermittent updates from a transplant surgeon who was thrilled about how well it was going) there was a program on the television in the waiting room that two other people turned on to watch, and what was showing? A hidden camera, gotcha, WOW about individuals committing Social Security fraud. Which means a lot in a country where most people would think Arnuld in a wheel-chair looked handicapped, while my client who was very near death, often near comatose, and could literally be knocked unconscious was “gaming the system.”

          There are far more people going without who are truly disabled, than there are individuals committing fraud to get that health insurance and six hundred dollars a month. Most SS fraud is committed by doctors who round up indigent people, put them in the hospital and charge it up.

          Republicans would rather see a thousand needy people die to get one cheating individual (which EVERY HUMAN POPULATION HAS) than to let one scam artist get that little nut.

          And white collar crime— though it costs us much more than street crime and even brought the global economy to its knees recently— is not prosecuted nearly enough in relation to the level of THEFT that it truly is.

          • wiley says:

            …could literally be knocked unconscious by stress… I saw him pass out after hanging up from a stressful conversation with his ex-wife. Too much protein could also cause him to blackout and not know where he was or what was wrong with him—disabled.

      • Out of curiosity, what should this case have “changed our minds” about under more ideal circumstances? It confirmed by view that evil and corrupt people exist, and they are evil and corrupt in creatively horrifying ways. What are you looking for?

        Your huffy indignation and loud incredulity make you seem like a completely obtuse moron, with a streak of cynical corruption and perhaps some creepy political agenda I don’t want to know about. This is more than just one or two evil individuals, and there was a time when something like this would have been regarded as a big deal.

        Nothing in my post said that it was only about two individuals. I was taking it as a horror story of what happens when knee-jerk “though on crime” meets for-profit prisons meets corrupt judges. Sorry I didn’t spell that out to you with complete clarity.

  12. Stag Party Palin says:

    Days When I Have No Hope for the Democratic Party

    That would be any day of the week with the word “day” in it.

  13. Dick Gephardt, meeting with George Bush and his top officials at the White House in 2002, was the one who told him to base his case for invading Iraq on WMDs.

    Later, there was a Democratic bill that directed Bush to give American support to UN weapons inspectors, and required him to come back to :Congress for another vote, with evidence of an ongoing WMD threat, and a certification that the UN inspectors were not able to do their job. Dick Gephardt cracked heads to squash the bill. The 2002 AUMF that passed the House, authorizing the invasion of Iraq, was co-sponsored by Dick Gephardt.

    On the other hand, the opposition to that AUMF, which was opposed by a large majority of House Democrats, was led by then-whip Nancy Pelosi.

    • Alan in SF says:

      OTOH, when Obama needed enough votes to escalate the perma-war in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Nancy Pelosi whipped exactly as many progressive votes as he needed, so the other progressives could say they opposed it.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Does Pelosi have any major sins? Scanning the Wikipedia page, I see pledging not to impeach Bush (a tactical move, but still, sigh), pulled Jones’ consult with congress before attacking Iran (probably tactical), voted for Patriot act (bleah, but not too surprising; voted against reauth of some bits), a few standard Israeli and Cuba moves…the biggest seems to have been the waterboarding bit, and it wasn’t like she was pro-waterboarding.

      Pelosi is a star!

      • Rarely Posts says:

        In all seriousness, if most of the Democratic leadership were as good as Nancy Pelosi, this Country would be in much better shape than it is.

      • Alan in SF says:

        Since Nancy’s my rep, I could add “being 1% as effective as John Boehner in terms of influencing the policies of a Democratic admionistration,” but I suppose that’s just a quibble.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Is that true? I mean, health care! Name 10 things that sum up to as significant a Boehner win from the admin as Pelosi pushing health care.

          And it’s not really Boehner alone right? “Boehner’s influence” is “the way the admin copes with the insane republican party having some power”. Pelosi held the house flank together when there are multiple major democratic power centers/interests plus a crazy senate, plus her personal grit (cf health care!). I think that that congresses amazing achievements were as positively shaped by her both directly and indirectly as they were negatively shaped by the noxious factions of the senate. No small influence!

  14. […] Days When I Have No Hope for the Democratic Party: Erik Loomis […]

  15. paulo says:

    You shouldn’t; it won’t.

    Simple compound answers to simple compounds questions.

  16. David M. Nieporent says:

    Why should I have any faith that the system will ever work, even when we elect Democrats?

    Aww. Our little baby Loomis is growing up and becoming a libertarian. It’s so cute. It’s like when they first learn the tooth fairy isn’t real.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Because really, if there is any party that can be expected to regulate for-profit universities, surely it is the libertarians.

      If Neiporent were a parody troll, would his posts change at all?

      • BradP says:

        What a silly thing to say. Nobody is calling for libertarians to regulate for-profit universities. Presumably, Loomis would become more of a libertarian because he lost faith in the representatives and regulators.

        Or you could just double down on the government regulation solution, even after you have declared that you have lost faith in even your preferred party to do it.

        • Malaclypse says:

          You have a point. I do not believe there were any problems with for-profit universities in The Shire. Brandywine Hall was truly the Harvard of Eriador.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          What a silly thing to say. Nobody is calling for libertarians to regulate for-profit universities. Presumably, Loomis would become more of a libertarian because he lost faith in the representatives and regulators.

          Isn’t this a pretty silly thing to say? Presumably, Loomis isn’t going to become more of libertarian because representatives and regulators fail to correct the power and economic distortions that large private entities exert and would exert even more freely without the regulators? I guess he could become a nihilist wrt government, but that’s not the same as being a libertarian.

          • BKP says:

            Isn’t this a pretty silly thing to say? Presumably, Loomis isn’t going to become more of libertarian because representatives and regulators fail to correct the power and economic distortions that large private entities exert and would exert even more freely without the regulators? I guess he could become a nihilist wrt government, but that’s not the same as being a libertarian.

            What would these individuals have to do to make you think that perhaps government is making the situation worse?

            There couldn’t be a more plain example of the government perpetuating a lie that is crumbling under its own weight.

            This is not an example of lobbyists going to the government, handing them a bunch of money, and saying “Call off the dogs, please”. This is an example of lobbyists going to government and saying “People are getting wise to our tricks, what can you do to help us out?”

            There is so much focus on government as strong protector and business as evil, that you apparently are unable to recognize government’s ability to enable and make things worse.

        • Furious Jorge says:

          But saying “Democrats suck, therefore Libertarianism is a valid political philosophy” is a complete non-sequitur.

          • David M. Nieporent says:

            Not at all. Modern liberalism is based on the conceit that the problem with government is that the wrong people (i.e., Republicans) are in charge, and if only bien pensant Democrats were running the show, everything would be hunky-dory. When it finally dawns on you that Democrats suck, too, it leads you to — as Loomis said — lose “faith that the system will ever work.” And when you lose faith in the system, then “libertarianism is a valid political philosophy” is the logical conclusion.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Modern liberalism is based on the conceit that the problem with government is that the wrong people (i.e., Republicans) are in charge, and if only bien pensant Democrats were running the show, everything would be hunky-dory. When it finally dawns on you that Democrats suck, too, it leads you to — as Loomis said — lose “faith that the system will ever work.” And when you lose faith in the system, then “libertarianism is a valid political philosophy” “the Communist Party is the vanguard of the proletariat, and will usher in a classless society” is the logical conclusion.

              Well, it is not any more ridiculous than your version.

              • BKP says:

                A loss in faith in the intentions and capabilities of our representatives and leaders hardly seems like a sound basis for supporting a Communist Party vanguard.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  You are correct – it is a silly conclusion. But it is not one whit sillier than imagining that the solution to regulatory capture is further deregulation.

  17. sherparick says:

    The following quote from a Milton Friedman article published in the N.Y. Times Magazine in September 1970 is to me the clear statement of the guiding principle of American business since that date.
    http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html

    “In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”

    Giving the customer/student something of value is only important if it serves this objective. If conning the “mark” works better, then the “ethical” CEO will con the mark. And in the education “con” there is always a new class of potential “marks” arriving every years who are naive and inexperience in the market. Meanwhile, old customers are usually to burdened with debt to be exploitable. So all the incentives are to “promise” the golden ring, but deliver a crackerjack prize instead.

    As a lawyer, I can tell you that the “basic rules” as “embodied by the law” is a gray area, especially when you can hire lobbiests to change those laws and regulations. And “ethical customs” is also a concept that changes over time, especially where the primary ethical duty is seen as “making money” for yourself first, and then your investors, with the adoption of Randian ethics.

    All these people listed by Mr. Loomis, ostensible Democrats, are making a fortune that is derivative on the exploitation of those how have weak market power, young adults seeking employable skills in the weakest. These people are being firehosed with money, because the CEO of Washington Post corporation and Phoenix University are being firehosed with even more money by the profits they extract from the suckers that take out student loans which going going to burden them into middle age, and which if they suffer a health or financial calamity, they can’t discharge in bankruptcy.

    I should note that the probably the most powerful lobby against these regulations was the Washington Post itself, both its editorial and news pages, which supported the true money making arm of the corporation, Kaplan.

    The Democrats are truly awful, but considering the Republicans, they look like angels.

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