Drug Prices in the US vs. Canada – The Big Pharma Political Connection of Corporatist Democrats

This is a slide used by Bernie Sanders when he proposed making drug imports from Canada to the US legal.
The proposal was voted down in the Senate 52-46, with a few key Democrats helping overturn Bernie’s proposed legislation.
Among those voting against it was the recipient of big pharma campaign contributions Democratic rising star Cory Booker.
Booker used the Big Pharma talking point that ‘the bill did not include provisions requiring the protections of the FDA.’
Oh really? We think that the Canadian government’s regulation of medicine is weaker than in the US? Please, Cory, tell us exactly where they fall down on the job.


This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 29 JANUARY 2017.

Clinton’s Pay-to-Play Is the Natural Consequence of Big Government

Hillary Clinton has been taking heat for her relationship with the Clinton Foundation. Did individuals and firms making large donations to the Foundation, or paying large speaking or consulting fees to Bill Clinton, get preferred access to Ms. Clinton as Secretary of State? Is there a revolving door between the Clinton campaign and the Foundation’s fundraising staff? Are these relationships the subject of the emails she deleted from her private server?
These questions point to a more basic issue about the role of money in politics. What, exactly, do large corporations get in exchange for their campaign contributions? Ms. Clinton gave 92 speeches between 2013 and 2015 that netted her $21.6 million, including $1.8 million for just 8 speeches to large banks. (CNN provides eye-opening details about her speaking requirements – the $225,000 fee is just the tip of the iceberg.) Ms. Clinton is hardly known for her business acumen; her infamous cattle-futures trades are widely recognized as a political payoff, and her views on corporate governance have been ridiculed by experts. Her opinions on world politics are already in the public domain, so I doubt that Goldman Sachs was getting $200K worth of unique insight into global affairs. Bill Clinton, with zero experience in higher-education administration, bagged $17 million to be honorary chancellor of an obscure for-profit university. Why are these companies throwing their money away?
Most people assume that campaign contributions, speaking and consulting fees and lucrative board positions for former and future politicians, and similar payments are pure graft, the kinds of pay-to-play arrangements common under crony capitalism. And some of these transfers surely do buy access and even specific policy outcomes. There are several problems with the common assumption, however. First, research on campaign contributions finds that the expected rate of return on these payments is quite high and yet, given the potential gains, the contribution amounts are remarkably small. Second, there is little systematic evidence that policies are, on average, greatly influenced by such contributions, leading some to suggest that this form of payment to politicians and political parties is mainly consumption, not investment.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 26, 2016.

The Clinton’s And Wall Street – -24 Years of Conjugal Relations

For twenty four years the Clintons have orchestrated a conjugal relationship with Wall Street, to the immense financial benefit of both parties. They have accepted from the New York banks $68.72 million in campaign contributions for their six political races, and $8.85 million more in speaking fees. The banks have earned hundreds of billions of dollars in practices that were once prohibited – until the Clinton Administration legalized them.
The extraordinary ambition displayed in the careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton defies description. They have spent much of their adult lives soliciting money from others for their own benefit. A 2014 story in Timemagazine said this:
‘Few in American history have collected and benefited from so much money in so many ways over such a long period of time…the Clintons have attracted at least $1.4 billion in contributions…’
Time failed to dig deeply enough. A more thoroughly researched expose’ in the Washington Post a year later doubles the amount to $3 billion.
Ruthless ambition put Bill Clinton into the White House twice, sent Hillary Clinton twice to the Senate, and now has her poised on the cusp of the American presidency. It also made the Clintons one of the wealthiest couples in the nation.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on February 29, 2016.

When Capitalism Turns to Cannibalism

With authentic growth scarce, there’s no other way to reap huge profits but cannibalism.
When people say “capitalism has failed” or “capitalism has succeeded,” we have to ask: what type of capitalism do you mean? Authentic capitalism, in which capital is placed at risk to earn a return in a competitive, transparent marketplace, or do you mean cartel-state capitalism, or crony-capitalism, or monopoly capitalism or finance capitalism, i.e. the types that dominate the global economy?
As long as most startups crash and burn, and anyone with a few bucks and plenty of inner drive can start an enterprise, authentic capitalism still lives. But let’s face it, authentic capitalism occupies a diminishing corner of the U. S. and global economies.
With a work force of 150 million and around 120 million full-time workers, the U. S. economy has about 6 million small businesses with employees and a few million self-employed (sole proprietors) who earn a middle-class livelihood: Endangered Species: The Self-Employed Middle Class.
The political and financial influence of small business and the self-employed barely registers on K Street, Wall Street and in Washington D. C. Politicos praise small business in the same way they speak of small family farms as the backbone of American agriculture–as a form of pandering for PR purposes while they pocket the big campaign contributions from Monsanto and Big Ag.
Meanwhile, in the real world, small business is in decline while corporate money floods the financial sector and Washington D. C.
The Washington Post published a study that found U. S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created. While not exactly a surprise, this is sobering evidence that small enterprise is in structural decline:

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on JULY 15, 2015.

The Oceans Are Dying – Paul Craig Roberts

I am an admirer of Dahr Jamail’s reporting. In this article, Oceans In Crisis, Jamail tells us that we are losing the oceans. He reports on the human destruction of the oceans. It is a real destruction with far-reaching consequences.
That fact is indisputable.
From my perspective the human destruction of the oceans is yet more evidence of the ruinous nature of private capitalism. In capitalism there is no thought for the future of the planet and humanity, only for short-term profits and bonuses. Consequently, social costs are ignored.
Capitalism can work if social or external costs can be included in the costs of production. However, the powerful corporations are able to block a socially functioning capitalism with their political campaign contributions.
Consequently, capitalists themselves make the capitalist system dysfunctional. We may have reached the point where the external costs of production are larger than the value of capitalist output. Economist Herman Daly makes a convincing case that this is the fact.
While the powerful capitalists use the environment for themselves as a cost-free dumping ground, the accumulating costs threaten everyone’s life. It appears that nothing can be done, because the oceans are ‘common property.’ No one owns them, so no one can protect them and their contents.

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on March 30, 2015.

Retired US Army Major General Picks Apart Sen. Cotton’s ‘Scarlet Letter’ to Iran

The criticism continue to come in regarding Senator Tom Cotton and his gang of 47 working to kill the White House’s current nuclear negotiations with Iran.
One member of the military establishment who is fiercely opposed to the GOP’s ‘Scarlet Letter’ to Tehran, is retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton who deconstructed what he considered to be a fatally flawed political move (see full report below).
Regarding this Iran controversy, earlier, 21WIRE pointed out a major financial conflict of interestbetween Senator Cotton and the Israeli Lobby who are actively working to derail US government negotiations with Iran. It turns out that this is not the only conflict of interest as Crooks and Liars points out. Overt war hawk Cotton is also in bed with the military industrial complex:
‘So this cotton-picking Iran-letter-writing traitor is really sucking up after those fat defense campaign contributions! We are so very surprised! Via Lee Fang at the Intercept:
[…] Cotton will appear at an ‘Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution’ event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.
The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.
Cotton strongly advocates higher defense spending and a more aggressive foreign policy. As The New Republic’s David Ramsey noted, ‘Pick a topic – Syria, Iran, Russia, ISIS, drones, NSA snooping – and Cotton can be found at the hawkish outer edge of the debate… During his senate campaign, he told a tele-townhall that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels joining forces to attack Arkansas was an ‘urgent problem.”

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on MARCH 16, 2015.

D.C.’s New Bosses Start to Pay Back Wall Street

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Money Morning – Only the News You Can Profit From. To view original, click here.
Rattlesnakes rattle their tails as a warning. It’s their way of saying, ‘I’m ready to attack you to defend my ground,’ which really means defend myself.
All politicians are snakes. And some of them are rattlesnakes – but only if they have to be.
Most of them would prefer to silently slither in and out of their offices defending their self-interests. But sometimes a politician has to rattle his tail because his constituents’ interests are threatened – meaning his campaign contributions (money) and votes
are threatened.
Republicans have been doing a lot of rattling lately, since they are now the majority species in the deep, dark den known as Congress.
Me, I used to be a staunch Republican. I still adhere to the basic Republican principles of smaller government, lower taxes, and a ‘constructionist’ view of the U. S. Constitution, not an interpretive one.
But I’m disgusted with the Rattlesnake Republicans who are pandering to crony capitalists. Their greedy, pro-super-wealthy and big-business agenda isn’t about the good of the country, but about lining their own pockets and becoming super-wealthy themselves.
And here’s how they’ve been lining their pockets most recently…

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on January 19, 2015.

New Book: Senator Schumer Was Regular Visitor to Madoff Offices

New York City has 8.4 million people living in its boroughs. But when it comes to defending those charged with financial crimes, it’s a very small, clubby world of people who are either related to each other or have worked together in the past. And this clubby group has one more thing in common: most of its members seem to be lavishing huge campaign contributions on U. S. Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer of New York – a man who is in a position to recommend Federal Judge appointments and the Justice Department’s U. S. Attorney who will prosecute the financial crimes – or not.
These are the findings in a new on-line book, JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook, being offered free as a chapter a month by attorneys Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer. (Chaitman is a nationally recognized litigator who was swindled by Madoff and is passionate about getting an unabridged recital of facts out to the public, including details about the extensive involvement in the fraud by the big Wall Street bank, JPMorgan Chase, and Madoff clients that the authors believe to have been co-conspirators.)
Chapter 3 is now up on the web site and delivers this nugget: ‘Senator Schumer was a frequent visitor to Madoff in his office in New York’s Lipstick Building.’ This information came to Chaitman in 2009 from Madoff employees and is confirmed by a 2014 interview with Madoff himself by Politico’s MJ Lee, indicating that Schumer paid personal visits to Madoff to collect campaign contributions.
In the March Politico article, Lee adds this: ‘Approached in a Senate hallway last week, Schumer seemed willing to talk to a reporter – until the subject of Madoff came up. ‘I’m not commenting,’ the New York Democrat said as he walked away. ‘I am not commenting.’ ‘
The web of relationships unveiled in the book include the following:
The U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement against JPMorgan Chase for their involvement in the Madoff fraud and who allowed the family of Madoff client Jeffry Picower to keep billions of dollars that very likely grew out of the fraud, was Senator Schumer’s former Chief Counsel and recommended for the prosecutor’s post in 2009 by Senator Schumer.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 15, 2014.

Crony Capitalism Is Kryptonite to Democracy and the Real Economy

When the machinery of governance is ruled by the highest bidders, democracy is dead.
Last week I described the sources of America’s America’s terminal political dysfunction. The engine of this terminal dysfunction is crony capitalism, the incestuous and oh-so-profitable marriage of the Central State and monied Elites.
Gordon T. Long and I continue our discussion of the perverse incentives and consequences of crony capitalism in a 25-minute video program.
Gordon argues that America’s Crony Capitalism closely resembles the Roman Tribute System, an arrangement that skims wealth and concentrates it at the top of the power pyramid.
Vast financial crimes are met with fines. Guilty parties do not go to jail but rather the corporation pays a fine. Billion-dollar crimes are assessed million-dollar fines– a percentage that closely mirrors a Tribute System. The government makes money through enforcement but not prevention. Corporations make illicit fortunes with the confidence that the government will settle for a small slice of the wealth stripmined from the people.
The fines for financial skimming operations act as a form of tribute to the Central State: the State and its corrupt elected officials and regulators turn a blind eye to the pillage of the citizenry via financialization schemes, and then skim a tribute via fines and campaign contributions.


This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2014.

How We’ve Devolved into the Current System of Crony Capitalism

In this interview with Bill Moyers, David Stockman, who first coined the term Crony Capitalism, explains what’s happened in the political-economic realm since his post as Budget Director under Reagan. The evidence that we’ve embarked on a “new system” has become more obvious with time. Beginning with the $20 billion bailout of the Mexican peso in 1994, progressing with the bailout of Long Term Capital Management in 1998 and the recent bailout in 2008 with the $700 billion Wall Street package, Stockman explains that the benefactors are not limited to those being bailed out. The investors who financed those failures are the ones who’ve really benefited.  These are the so-called cronies, who have ties to those in high positions, capable of bending laws to ensure the majority of profits go to themselves, while losses are always taken by the tax payers.