Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The new class warfare?

Guambat missed this post from favourite read Barry Ritholtz when it first came out, but was fortunately tipped to it by a discreet link on FT Alphaville today.

Guambat is receptive to the theme in Barry's post, as a read of one of Guambat's Opus-es listed in the right-hand column would reveal: Unrepresentative Swill (Part 3) May 2006

The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations
I would like to discuss the paradigm shift that is occurring in politics.

For a long time, American politics has been defined by a Left/Right dynamic. It was Liberals versus Conservatives on a variety of issues.

The new dynamic, however, has moved past the old Left Right paradigm. We now live in an era defined by increasing Corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power. The Individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights.

This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an Individual vs. Corporate debate – and the Humans are losing.

Consider:

• Many of the regulations that govern energy and banking sector were written by Corporations;

• The biggest influence on legislative votes is often Corporate Lobbying;

• Corporate ability to extend copyright far beyond what original protections amounts to a taking of public works for private corporate usage;

• PAC and campaign finance by Corporations has supplanted individual donations to elections;

• The individuals’ right to seek redress in court has been under attack for decades, limiting their options.

• DRM and content protection undercuts the individual’s ability to use purchased content as they see fit;

• Patent protections are continually weakened. Deep pocketed corporations can usurp inventions almost at will;

• The Supreme Court has ruled that Corporations have Free Speech rights equivalent to people; (So much for original intent!)

None of these are Democrat/Republican conflicts, but rather, are corporate vs. individual issues.

For those of you who are stuck in the old Left/Right debate, you are missing the bigger picture. Consider this about the Bailouts: It was a right-winger who bailed out all of the big banks, Fannie Mae, and AIG in the first place; then his left winger successor continued to pour more money into the fire pit.

What difference did the Left/Right dynamic make? Almost none whatsoever.

What does it mean when we can no longer distinguish between the actions of the left and the right? If that dynamic no longer accurately distinguishes what occurs, why are so many of our policy debates framed in Left/Right terms?

There is some pushback already taking place against the concentration of corporate power: Mainstream corporate media has been increasingly replaced with user created content – YouTube and Blogs are increasingly important to news consumers (especially younger users). Independent voters are an increasingly larger share of the US electorate.

But the battle lines between the two groups have barely been drawn. I expect this fight will define American politics over the next decade.

Keynes vs Hayek? Friedman vs Krugman? Those are the wrong intellectual debates. Its you vs. Tony Hayward, BP CEO, You vs. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO. And you are losing . . .

Guambat wonders just how much of this theme might be reflected in the following stories?

From CBSNews, GOP Leaders: Sarah Palin Must be Stopped
Last night, Politico posted an anonymously-sourced story reporting that advisers to top potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates are united in their desire to stop Sarah Palin from winning the presidential nomination out of a fear that she would lose badly in the general election.

"There is a determined, focused establishment effort ... to find a candidate we can coalesce around who can beat Sarah Palin," someone described as a "prominent and longtime Washington Republican" told Politico. "We believe she could get the nomination, but Barack Obama would crush her."

Palin quickly responded to the story on Fox News' "On the Record" last night, criticizing the use of anonymous sources and stating, "The paper that we just printed this article on was not worth even wrapping my king salmon in."

She called them "the GOP the establishment -- the self-proclaimed elite" and added that "if they would man up and if they would, you know, make these claims against me, then I can debate them."

The Politico story focuses on what has become obvious to many in Washington: The fact that while Palin is an undisputed superstar on the right who can drum up significant enthusiasm among her base, she represents a significant risk as a general election candidate.

One Republican leader told Politico that party leaders hoped that a strengthened Republican National Committee could be used to hobble Palin. Yet the Republican Party has become increasingly decentralized in the 2010 election cycle, thanks in part to the rising influence of outside groups and the Tea Party movement, raising questions about how much influence the RNC will ultimately have on the nomination.

Fox News, Palin to Politico: 'Yellow Journalism'
Top Republicans in Washington and in the national GOP establishment say the 2010 campaign highlighted an urgent task that they will begin in earnest as soon as the elections are over: Stop Sarah Palin.

Interviews with advisers to the main 2012 presidential contenders and with other veteran Republican operatives make clear they see themselves on a common, if uncoordinated, mission of halting the momentum and credibility Palin gained with conservative activists by plunging so aggressively into this year's midterm campaigns.

There is rising expectation among GOP elites that Palin will probably run for president in 2012 and could win the Republican nomination, a prospect many of them regard as a disaster in waiting.

A Sarah Palin moment n a Fox interview, quoted by Time.com
“Establishment bosses and advisors that try to shape a candidate and get paid to shape that candidate. It’s very sleazy. Some within the establishment don’t like the fact that I won’t back down to a good old boys club I have taken them on for 20 years and I have cleaned up corruption and I have done what the people have hired me have asked me to do, the voters, and I would continue to do that so maybe that makes some people a little uncomfortable. A lot of this has to do with control, power, money. If they know right off the bat that I believe they are sleazy and unethical and part of a machine that’s not good for the country and l wouldn’t hire them, it has to do with a frustration with that.”

Read more: http://thepage.time.com/2010/11/01/palin-on-gop-establishment-its-very-sleazy/#ixzz145OFZEa3

Now, know thee well, Guambat is not carrying the pale for Palin. He considers her the final (?) pushback from the once comfortable white middle class against the epic changes in US social life and US economic/political life experiences of the last couple or three decades.

But he also senses in some of her statements, and some of the positions taken by the Tea Parties she associations with, a basic and unfocused unease with the disenfranchisement of the individuals, and their Main Street communities, resulting from the concentrated and self-serving economic and political power of the global corporate powers.

And to that extent (only), he can whisper, "you go, girl".

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