The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Oligarchy

The caption reads: History Repeats Itself – The Robber Barons Of the Middle Ages And The Robber Barons of Today

And there is a bigger copy of the image here

** so said Gordon Gekko in Wall Street

 

Good Tuesday Widdershins!

So have you ever heard that phrase or one similar that goes something like “I know a friend of a friend of…the police chief, the Mayor…” or someone else that implies the person knows the high muckety-mucks and that relationship can help…you.  That’s a pretty good description of an event that was held at the Ritz Carlton in Beijing this past weekend. The event was sponsored by the Kushner crime uh family.

The shindig was an “investment opportunity” for wealthy Chinese citizens to plunk a cool half million dollars into a Kushner luxury apartment complex in Jersey.  And it has the additional sweetener that by plunking down said $500k you can also apply for what’s known as an investor visa.   That program is called the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Process.  I might refer to it as “grease the skids on getting entrance to the U.S.”.

And of course it was all on the up and up.  Of course.  And we know it was on the up and up because it included Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s sister.  And of course she was introduced just that way, as Jared’s sister.  And these people knew exactly who Jared Kushner is; the son-in-law of the President of the United States.

The tagline on a brochure for the event: “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at a Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that would help them secure what’s known as an investor visa.

The potential investors were advised to invest sooner rather than later in case visa rules change under the Trump administration. “Invest early, and you will invest under the old rules,” one speaker said.  [me – I wonder if they ran that line past Col. Cornpone and Steve Bannon?  Those two might now want any of these yellow people getting into ‘Merica.]

Gawd, do these people, any of them, have any shame or is it all about the almighty dollar, regardless of what it looks like.

The event underscores the extent to which Kushner’s private business interests have the potential to collide with his powerful role as a top official in his father-in-law’s White House, particularly when it comes to China, where Kushner has become a crucial diplomatic channel between Beijing and the new administration.

While Kushner has reported divesting from elements of the family business, including the specific project that his sister pitched in Beijing, the session Saturday demonstrated that the company is perceived as enjoying close ties to the Trump administration. Ethics laws prohibit government officials from profiting personally from their public-sector work.

Divest, my backside.  The family will be holding Jared’s share for after he leaves government, ya know…after the impeachment.

Still, it’s the image of what this implies.

Watchdogs and ethics experts on Saturday criticized the Beijing event as an attempt to cash in on Kushner’s newfound proximity to power.

“It’s incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate,” said Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration, who has become a vocal critic of the Trump administration. “They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa. . . . They’re [Chinese applicants] not going to take a chance. Of course they’re going to want to invest.”

And this particular type of visa has become very popular with the Chinese, especially as a way to get their money out of China.

Also, it has become a source of getting dubious investment dollars without really following through on what it was designed for.

The program was launched with the goal of securing investment and creating jobs. But instead, in recent years, many real estate developers have used the program as a source of cheap financing by using foreign investors, especially from China, for flashy projects in Manhattan and other city centers.

A Government Accountability Office report in 2015 found the EB-5 program carried a high risk of fraud, was rife with counterfeit documentation and had “no reliable method to verify the source of the funds of petitioners.”

In other words, a way to finance Trump and Kushner investments and real estate.

 

There’s much more at the link, so check it out when you can.

Lastly, real life issues came up with Prolix so I took today’s post.  I apologize for such an un-Prolix type of post.  It will make us appreciate all the more, the real deal when he has time to post again.  Of course this is an open thread.

 

 

Advertisements

oligarchy

Oldsmobile, er country.  And I think you know it and I know it.  But in case you needed to have that sneaky feeling confirmed, two researchers at Princeton Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page  pretty much confirmed that our democracy doesn’t really exist anymore.  Welcome to the oligarchy.  And if you are unfamiliar with the term, let me give you a definition of it.

noun, plural ol·i·gar·chies.

1.

a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

2.

a state or organization so ruled.

3.

the persons or class so ruling.
We all pretty well know who those folks are:  the Kock Bros. for instance, definitely the oil companies, Big Pharma, Big Insurance companies and the like.
Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.
Further, when you look at the over 1800 “policy initiatives” they looked at, and when you look at their starting point, you start to see it all coming together.
Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.
Let’s see here:  When did Ronnie Raygun get elected to office?  Oh yes.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (/ˈrɒnəld ˈwɪlsən ˈrɡən/; February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989).
So are any of us really surprised that the dismantling of our government started when Raygun went in?  Of course I’m not.  As the two write:
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” they write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
(bolding mine)
And here’s another little eye-opening (for some) tidbit that they found:
As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as major lobbying or business groups. They find that the government—whether Republican or Democratic—more often follows the preferences of the latter group rather than the first.
Gilens and Page say this is nothing new that could possibly be attributable to the recent decisions by the Supremes in Citizens United and McCutcheon.

As the data stretching back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone reverse.  (B&I mine)

“Ordinary citizens,” they write, “might often be observed to ‘win’ (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.”

 

So you know all of the online petitions we get in our email and are asked to sign so they can then be presented to some congress critter?  Now you know how much of an impression they really make.

I’m not going to badmouth signing online petitions because there is a feeling of satisfaction in doing so, but just don’t hold your breath that anything will change unless somehow the “elites” somehow agree with the thing being petitioned.

There was a 2nd article at TPM

Where Sahil Kapur spoke to Martin Gilens about the study he participated in.  I’m going to paste in part of the interview here for us.

TPM: Let’s talk about the study. If you had 30 seconds to sum up the main conclusion of your study for the average person, how would you do so?

Gilens: I’d say that contrary to what decades of political science research might lead you to believe, ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States. And economic elites and interest groups, especially those representing business, have a substantial degree of influence. Government policy-making over the last few decades reflects the preferences of those groups — of economic elites and of organized interests.

TPM: You say the United States is more like a system of “Economic Elite Domination” and “Biased Pluralism” as opposed to a majoritarian democracy. What do those terms mean? Is that not just a scholarly way of saying it’s closer to oligarchy than democracy if not literally an oligarchy?

Gilens: People mean different things by the term oligarchy. One reason why I shy away from it is it brings to mind this image of a very small number of very wealthy people who are pulling strings behind the scenes to determine what government does. And I think it’s more complicated than that. It’s not only Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers or Bill Gates or George Soros who are shaping government policy-making. So that’s my concern with what at least many people would understand oligarchy to mean. What “Economic Elite Domination” and “Biased Pluralism” mean is that rather than average citizens of moderate means having an important role in determining policy, ability to shape outcomes is restricted to people at the top of the income distribution and to organized groups that represent primarily — although not exclusively — business.  

And this was my favorite of the interview:

 

TPM: How does a system like this perpetuate itself when after all it’s ordinary voters who cast their ballots and elect their leaders. Theoretically they can change it in a heartbeat. Why don’t they?

Gilens: That’s a very good question. I don’t have a complete answer for you. Part of it clearly is that while politicians need votes while in office, they need money to obtain and retain office. So they need to balance the activities that will benefit them in terms of money with the activities that’ll benefit them in terms of votes. Voters are not particularly effective at holding politicians accountable for the policies they adopt. Voters also have a limited choice set when going into an election. We find that policies adopted during presidential election years in particular are more consistent with public preferences than policies adopted in other years of the electoral cycle.  (again bolding and italics mine)

The entire interview is really an eye-opener and I strongly suggest you go to TPM and read it. Gilens does hand the rich and elite a few smackdowns but is somewhat gloomy about what any different outcomes might be or how they might come about.  I have downloaded the report of the study that these two conducted and I’ll try to upload it and find a place for it on the blog.

Gilens and Page only had documents and info on “policy initiatives” going back to the Ronnie Raygun era, but I’ll bet it has been going on longer than that.  Paddy Chayefsky may have had an inkling about it when he wrote Network.

 

This is an open thread but do check out the two linked articles at TPM.

 

Addendum:  I did get the study uploaded.  It’s on the right side under Activism.  Look for Gilens and Page…
It is in pdf format and should open separately.

 

 

 


Keep Up

Atrocities Documented:

What the F*ck Just Happened?!

Victories Won:

Your Victories Against Drumpf!

Wanna Be A Widdershin?

Send us a sample post at:

widdershinssubmissions at gmail dot com

I’m ready. Are you?

Comments

NW Luna on Post-Thanksgiving
NW Luna on Post-Thanksgiving
socalannie on Post-Thanksgiving
Fredster on Post-Thanksgiving
socalannie on Post-Thanksgiving

Blog Archive

November 2017
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

So similar

Take the kids to work? NO!

3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

***Disaster Donations***

Quick links for donations.

Donations for our furry, and other critter friends:

Texas SPCA Donate Page

Houston TX SPCA Donation Page

Red Rover Group

For the Virgin Islands (Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands)
CFVI.net

All Hands Disaster Relief:
https://www.hands.org/

Puerto Rico’s First Lady’s organization:
http://unidosporpuertorico.com/en/

Americares (provides medical/health support)
http://www.americares.org/en/

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
3.2 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

Heroine of the Resistance

B-I-N-G-O!

PHONE CONTACT INFO FOR THE DNC:

202-863-8000

TELL PEREZ AND ELLISON HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT BRAZILE NUT!

Storify version of E. Rogers HVF explanation

Reason(s) to vote for Doug Jones