Friday, July 04, 2003

The Constitution, Corporatism, and "Loot, Repeat"

For July Fourth

The Constitution made us, as Americans, who we are. The Bush administration has been quietly revising it:
We the people rulers of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general corporate welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to profits for ourselves and our posterity associates, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Satire? I wish. Establish justice? The Patriot Act. Provide for the common defense? Our ports, airways, and reservoirs, power plants, and mass transit are little more secure now than they were before 9/11. And how is the Iraqi war the common defense when it's never been shown that it will make one single American safer? Domestic tranquility? Sure, through Clear Channel and the suppression of dissent. Promote the general welfare? I'd laugh, if I weren't banging my head on the table...

But forget about the easy shots. Let's follow the money. Trying to figure out what the Republicans are really up to (to model their behavior) I think there are two essential notions:
  1. Corporatism
  2. Loot, Repeat

For Corporatism, here again is the relevant clause as revised by Bush:
Promote corporate welfare, and secure the blessings of profits for ourselves and our associates.
Corporatism is what Bush does, as opposed to what he says. Does this seem about right for the Republican's long-term, strategic goal?

Republicans use Loot, Repeat tactics, as analyzed by Nicholas Confessore (go read!) in service of Corporatism. Here are the steps:

(1) Target: Pick an existing government revenue stream
(2) Transmit memes: Focus on the Mighty Wurlitzer on the target
(3) Privatize: Write the legislation "privatizing" the revenue stream
(4) Loot: Steer the privatized service to a wired (Republican) firm, and
(5) Repeat: Take a payoff from the wired firm, as campaign contributions or otherwise. With the payoff money, return to step (1) and pick new targets.

Some Republican factions -- wingers, self-identified Christians, militia types -- are useful primarily in the targeting, meme transmission, and legislative phases, and as thugs. They are, as the Trots would say, "useful idiots." Bush, DéLay, Frist, and our own Rick Santorum are fully implicated in all the steps to Corporatism. IOW, it really is all about the money.

Loot, Repeat is not a conspiracy theory -- it's something very familiar: A political machine. If anything, it's good old-fashioned party building, just as the Democrats used to be able to do.

Loot, Repeat is parasitic. Nothing of value is created; it is only possible for the Republicans to plan to loot Social Security because FDR created the New Deal. Loot, Repeat diverts existing revenue, and delivers less value to citizens for a higher price (see Paul Krugman for how Loot, Repeat is playing out in Florida).

Here is an UggaBugga-style sketch of the steps of Loot, Repeat. It's incomplete; maybe readers can help fill in some blanks. Some of the projects, like privatizing Social Security, are not yet complete; a Loot, Repeat cycle can take years to play out.

The repeat column -- the money trail to where the payoff goes -- is most incomplete. Aggregated, however, this column provides the answer to the question: "Where did the Bush contributors get their $200 million from, and what are they doing with it?"

1. Target Revenue Stream2. Transmit memes3. Privatize4. Loot5. Repeat
Defense DepartmentNeo-cons, PNACOutsourcingthe Iraq warNo bid contracts, etc. 
Medicare Prescription drug benefitRebates to big pharma; cherry picking 
Social Security  Commissions for mutual fund industry 
Public Schools Vouchers, contracting with private companiesE.g., wired EdisonCampaign contributions
Prisons  Wackenhut, etc. 
Stategic Petroleum Reserve  Contract to wiredKoch IndustriesCato Institute
Public utilitiesEasily manipulated California initiative process Kinda deregulate electricityCriminal manipulation of the power market fleeces Californians of billions - Bush FERC still says it's OKEnron dollars are a top source for Bush campaign contributions in 2000.
Jeb Bush funnels Florida taxpayer money into Enron stock
Proprietary software instead of free, open-source solutions. 
Electronic voting machinesFlorida debacle due to "hanging chads" instead of outright fraud 

UPDATE: Thanks to alert readers Dave Johnson and Tom for Edison, and Dave Johnson for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Thanks to alert reader EssJay for Enron (how could I forget?!)

Loot, Repeat in the service of Corporatism. I'd like to think that all Republicans don't want to shred our Constitution and abuse the American people in this way.