cronis

Politicians say, “We’re all equal,” and pretend that they represent everyone. But, in fact, they constantly pick winners and losers. America is now like the place described in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm: “All animals are equal,” but some are “more equal than others.” Animal Farm was about Communism, but today the allegory applies to our bloated democracy, too.

During the “fiscal cliff” negotiations that Congress and the media made sound so tough—as if every last penny were pinched—Congress still managed to slip in plenty of special deals for cronies.

NASCAR got $70 million for new racetracks.

Algae growers got $60 million.

Hollywood film producers got a $430 million tax break.

When America’s going broke, how do moviemakers get a special break? By lobbying for it. Movies are a sexy business, so 42 states offer film producers “incentives” to film there. (State legislatures are as shortsighted as Congress).

Michigan offered the juiciest handouts until the state ran out of taxpayers’ money. Now Ohio, Louisiana and Georgia (that’s why the latest “Hunger Games” movie was shot in Georgia) offer the biggest handouts. The mayor of Los Angeles recently declared a “state of emergency"—not over an earthquake or storm, but because so much moviemaking has left California for states with bigger subsidies.

The U.S., which used to pride itself on being more free-market than Europe, is now hardly different from France, which crippled its economy by subsidizing all sorts of old industries, and even gives money to producers of American films that mention France.

Politicians everywhere are always eager to help out people who helped get them elected. In the U.S., labor unions were big supporters of President Barack Obama, and—presto—unions got 451 waivers from Obamacare.

Congressional staff got a special exception, too. Funny how many of these laws are supposed to be great for all of us but, once passed, look ugly to the privileged class. So they exempt themselves.

Even the crusade to save the earth is captured by the "special” people. Subsidies for “green energy” were supposed to go to the best ideas. Yet somehow your money went to companies like Solyndra, whose biggest shareholder just happened to be an Obama backer who bundled money for the president.

And somehow Al Gore, who had a modest income when he entered politics, reaped $200 million from brilliant investments after he left office. He must just be really smart.

On my TV show this week, progressive commentator Ellis Henican says this cronyism is “inevitable” and doesn’t really bother him: “If we want roads and bridges and prisons and a military and a safety net, someone somewhere is going to benefit from that. But you can’t use that as an excuse to not do important things for our society.”

I say it’s one more reason to keep government small.

Politicians doling out favors quietly shift where society’s resources flow, who gets employed, what ideas are pursued.

It distorts the economy and the culture—and it turns us into a nation of favor-seekers instead of creators and producers.

What about all the new businesses that would have gotten investment money but didn’t have Gore on their boards? What new ideas might have thrived if old industries weren’t coddled? We don’t know. We will never know the greatness of what might have existed had the state not sucked the oxygen out of the incubator.

Because of government’s favor-granting, Washington, D.C., is now the place where the well-connected go to get rich. For the first time in history, six of the richest counties in the U.S. surround D.C. When a small group of people gets to dispense $3.6 trillion and set rules that can help or kill your idea, you want to suck up to them.

As long as government has the power to grant favors, cronies and their lobbyists will seek those favors out.

The privileged win. The people lose.

The nanny state meets crony capitalism in Florida, and it’s a match made in hell:

The law would force craft brewers to sell their bottled and canned beer directly to a distributor. If they want to sell it in their own tap rooms, they would then have to buy it back at what is typically a 30-40 percent mark-up without the bottles or cans ever leaving the brewery.

I’m soon going to be writing at greater length about this story and the bigger issue of how the government (state and federal) has historically screwed with the beer market in America, favoring big, low-quality brewers like Miller and Anheuser-Busch. For now, suffice it to say that even though the current situation is much better than it was 40-50 years ago, stories like this demonstrate that we are far from out of the woods.

Director and AFROPUNK commuity member Donovan Vim Crony shared the poster for a sci-fi short film he just completed. He says: “It definitely has punk (cyberpunk) inspirations and will feature music from punk and noise artists of color.”


“NOISE GATE is an experimental sci-fi short film about a dimensional traveling Scientist who is in search of the ultimate reality. His only passage into that realm is something called the NOISE GATE. I’ll be releasing a teaser trailer on August 1rst." 

Directed, filmed, and edited by Donovan Vim Crony

Starring Erik Taylor as The Scientist& Krystle Gardner as The Magician

Photography and Prod. Assistance by Aaron Johnson

via Afropunk.com 

Fascinating graphics show who owns all the major brands in the world


All the biggest product brands in the world are owned by a handful of corporation. Food, cleaning products, banks, airlines, cars, media companies… everything is in the hands of these megacorporations. These graphics show how everything is connected.

Consumer goods

In the supermarket—as you can see in the graphic at the top—Mondelez, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Pepsico, P&G, Johnson&Johnson, Mars, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Unilever own everything.


This graphic is sightly outdated, but it shows Johnson&Johnson’s brand connections. The graphic on top is up to date.

Financial assets

It doesn’t stop in the supermarket, of course. Our money is all in the hands of a few megacorporations too. Here’s all the stuff that merged into Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo since 1996. Now, according to MotherJones, 54% of all the financial assets in the United States are owned by just 10 institutions.

Studios and media companies

TV channels

EXPAND

Airlines

Cars

Your beer

Everything else

This graphic is from 2003 but it shows all the connections between all brands, from liquor to clothing to music labels.

Actual governments, like actual businesses, are run by human beings with imperfect knowledge, imperfect rationality, and sometimes impure motives. But unlike businesses, who make their mistakes on a decentralized scale with their own money, and who face the constant discipline of a system of profit and loss, government plays its game on a grand scale, and with other people’s resources.

Rent-seeking and cronyism are thus not temporary problems that we have only because the wrong people, or the wrong party, hold office. They are deep, structural problems with politics – a kind of government failure that must at the very least be weighed carefully against the perceived problems of the market when thinking about how much power we really want the state to wield.

Black Holographic Memory Spotlight On: NOISE GATE

ARTIST/DIRECTOR

Donovan Vim Crony

BHM PRESENTATION

NOISE GATE is an experimental sci-fi short film about a dimensional traveling Scientist who is in search of the ultimate reality. His only passage into that realm is something called the NOISE GATE.

ARTIST BIO

Donovan Vim Crony is a Video Artist, Director, Performer, Educator and Illustrator who is working and living out of Southern California.  His prime focus as an artist is to create compelling and provocative images and stories that resonate the essence of Rock & Roll through Sci-Fi narratives revolving around people of color.

ARTIST PORTALS

Website:  http://www.vimcrony.com Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/vimcrony Youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/vimcrony Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/vimcrony NOISE GATE will be screening at Black Holographic Memory Movie Night on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 5pm to 8pm. TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED HERE
Crony Capitalism: Google's Solar plant wants Federal grant to pay off $1.6 Billion Federal loan

I cannot even believe the level of cronyism happening in this one story.  It’s like Solyndra got together with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and had a baby. 

from FNC:

After already receiving a controversial $1.6 billion construction loan from U.S. taxpayers, the wealthy investors of a California solar power plant now want a $539 million federal grant to pay off their federal loan.

“This is an attempt by very large cash generating companies that have billions on their balance sheet to get a federal bailout, i.e. a bailout from us - the taxpayer for their pet project,” said Reason Foundation VP of Research Julian Morris. “It’s actually rather obscene.”

The Ivanpah solar electric generating plant is owned by Google and renewable energy giant NRG, which are responsible for paying off their federal loan. If approved by the U.S. Treasury, the two corporations will not use their own money, but taxpayer cash to pay off 30 percent of the cost of their plant, but taxpayers will receive none of the millions in revenues the plant will generate over the next 30 years.

“They’re already paying less than the market rate,” said Morris, author of a lengthy report detailing alleged cronyism and corruption in the Obama administration’s green energy programs. “Now demanding or asking for a subsidy in the form of a grant directly paying off the loan is an egregious abuse.”

read the rest

As a capitalist, I certainly don’t have any problem with large corporations making large profits.  However, I do have a big problem with large corporations playing footsie with politicians to gain an unfair advantage. 

When is the last time you borrowed money from the government and then asked the government to pay it off for you?