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[–]norsurfit 107 points108 points  (21 children)

I believe that this problem is getting worse. The fact that several prominent professors have written about various aspects of this corruption recently:

1) Lawrence Lessig - Republic Lost
2) Ben Goldacre - Bad Pharma
3) Luigi Zingales - Crony Capitalism
4) Marcia Angell - The Truth About the Drug Companies

These books all study how decisions that should be unbiased and neutral are being corrupted due to money. Especially in the pharmaceutical industry where clinical trials are being polluted.

[–]cazbot 305 points306 points  (131 children)

I have another example in the liquid fuels industry. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, which in turn are composed of a mixture of fatty acids which are converted to fatty esters to make biodiesel. Traditional biodiesel (of the kind which some states have mandated as an additive to petro-diesel) come from soybean oil, which has a particular profile of fatty acids. The regulations in the US state that in addition to having certain performance-based traits (flowability, combustability, gelling temperature, etc.) biodiesel must have a certain fatty acid profile, which by no coincidence matches that of soybean oil. So any disruptive tech that made a better biodiesel would also have to adhere to this profile. Sounds reasonable until you realize that you can meet all of the performance traits with different profiles, and that fatty acids profiles vary dramatically across all kinds of plants and other organisms that make vegetable oils.

Just another example of an innovation-stifling regulation established by lobbyists, in this case working for the soy lobby.

[–]bearwich 20 points21 points  (2 children)

Sounds like every industry ever. In Canada we are adding more regulations to the production of sausages under the guise of safety. All companies that produce them will need new machinary to basically pole holes so they dont explode while cooking. The kicker is they gave one company $800 000 to upgrade their machines. What about all the other companies? They have to pay for it out of pocket and pass that cost on to the consumer, meanwhile the company that got the free equipment will keep their prices in line with the rest and make even more profit. Now all we hear all about how pork prices are going to rise..

Its like this everywhere you go, don't get me started on Cheese making here.

Edit: Here is the Toronto Sun's take on it.

[–]Zacca 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I was unaware that sausage bombs were such a big problem.

[–]norieeega 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Finally there will be no more need for post sausage cooking face reconstruction surgery.

[–]zangorn 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Another example of it with biodiesel in california:

Biodiesel used to sell at the pumps. In 2008, Obama made his energy speech in front of a biodiesel pump I used regularly in West LA. It's a pioneering green energy fuel station, trying to innovate. Then the state government outlawed biodiesel from being stored in the underground tanks that gas stations normally use for petroleum diesel. The oil lobby claimed the tanks had not been tested for storing bio diesel. Since then, gas stations across the state stopped being able to sell it.

[–][deleted] 28 points29 points  (10 children)

While we're on the topic of farming, how about the prohibition of hemp? It's a crop that is more useful than cotton, corn, and soy combined. You can eat it (hemp hearts are quite nutritious, actually), you can make clothing from it (anything from shoes and pants or just about any other textile you can imagine), you can make paper, rope or building materials out of it (you could build a house from it if you really wanted), and of course it can be used as biofuel. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! I'm sure there are tons of other uses I left out. And it's not psychoactive, no matter what the religious wackos tell you.

Such a goddamn shame such a useful organism is banned from being grown on U.S. soil. What a messed up world we live in. All hail the corporate powers that be!

[–]barryg123 9 points10 points  (7 children)

Can't grow it, but nothing stopping people from importing hemp hearts, hemp textiles or hemp building materials into the US. Pretty much all textiles sold in the US originated elsewhere and the same can be said for a lot of food and building materials.

If hemp really was better than cotton, corn and soy combined as you claim, you'd think you'd see more hemp products in the US.

[–]DeDtRoLl 4 points5 points  (4 children)

A huge part of it is stigma. I can't count the number of times I have heard some variation on "only hippies buy hemp products." I am not trying to claim hemp will fix the world by any means, but it is a fact that the longer and more durable fibers are superior to cotton.

[–]Limewirelord 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Quite often, it is the hippies that are obnoxiously pushing hemp products.

[–]mecax 5 points6 points  (2 children)

If the hippies have the right idea then so what? The message is not diluted by the messenger.

[–]Lostmachine 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Unfortunately, in this case, the inverse is true, it seems.

[–]Pifferfish 2 points3 points  (0 children)

When those other products are subsidised, in order for companies to stay competitively priced with their products they have to choose to use non hemp materials.

[–]noitsnotrelevant 5 points6 points  (5 children)

We wanted to make biodiesel for our school's buses. The bus company said we'd have to pay to have it tested. Apparently in California you have to pay $300,000-400,000 in testing fees if you want to put a new fuel in a vehicle that is part of a fleet because of potential performance issues.

[–]diamondnipples 264 points265 points  (324 children)

i never understood why a city would sign an exclusive contract with a taxi company. i'm sure PALMS were greased, but it seems to go against the basis of capitalism. makes no sense.

perhaps a majority of big city taxi companies are just big money washing machines. in that case, i can see why they'd want to muscle out the competition.

EDIT: yes palms. It was very early in the morning and I knew something was getting greased

[–]locacorten 111 points112 points  (61 children)

In certain parts of the world, the airport claims that signing an exclusive contract with a taxi company eliminates cab drivers ripping off tourists. In particular, it becomes illegal for anyone else to pick-up passangers at the airport with a taxi.

I've been able to experience several airports before and after singing such exclusive deals. The good parts are that it eliminates the hagglers at the airport trying to get you in their cabs. It's much cleaner with a single, professional taxi company. The bad part is that the rip-off becomes institutionalized. The average fare immediately becomes more expensive, but it's much less likely anyone will get seriously ripped off.

[–][deleted] 37 points38 points  (25 children)

Speaking of institutionalised rippoffs we in London have black cabs that charge up to £8.80 per mile.

You can book a minicab that is considerably cheaper but if you want to hail one on the street you're stuck with handing over half your bank account. I used to go clubbing and the cab ride home would be more expensive than the rest of the night put together...

[–]inertiaisbad 11 points12 points  (15 children)

Jesus, seriously? After a profoundly bad night (and getting punched in the mouth) I just gave the guy $20 and said "Get me home, man" and that was it. Cheaper to walk in London, or try to figure out the tube system, or something...yeesh.

[–][deleted] 17 points18 points  (9 children)

Well getting punched in the mouth is a bastard! But yes, my fifteen minute cab ride home would usually cost about $60...

No tube after midnight-ish in the week and about 1am at the weekend. There are night busses but I was damned if I could figure out where to catch them plus I don't fancy getting stabbed for asking someone to stop throwing chips at my girlfriend.

London sucks ass for transport.

[–]inertiaisbad 7 points8 points  (3 children)

I knew the guy forever - it was forgiven. Had to sleep at his place thereafter and wanted to leave as quickly as I could. Still got some scar tissue where he slugged me. I've been punched in the mouth a lot, but this thing is apparently forever.

Why aren't they running transportation 24-7? It's not a big island over there...but throwing your citizens to the wolves insofar as the jerks creeping up to transport you for a wildly high cost seems...well, stupid.

[–]IllGiveYouTheKey 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Don't worry about taxis in London, the night bus home is often the best part of the night, people watching is awesome...

[–]inertiaisbad 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Fair's not something I want to try in Detroit - when we get crazies, we really do get crazies.

[–]TomSwirly 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I think he's partly joking - there's a reason they call them "fight busses".

[–]maestroni 1 point2 points  (2 children)

we in London have black cabs that charge up to £8.80 per mile.

Isn't the London cab price regulated by the city? I remember seeing a price list when riding one.

[–]Zagorath 55 points56 points  (29 children)

At the Saigon international airport there are a bunch of taxi companies allowed in, but the main ones that people actually use in the city (and the ones that can be relied upon not to cheat you) aren't allowed in. Your first experience entering HCMC once you exit the airport is being ripped off by shitty taxi companies because the good ones aren't allowed in and shitty ones that (presumably) bought licenses are.

Tip, if you ever visit Ho Chi Minh City and enter via air, walk out of the airport and grab a Mai Lin, Vinasun, or Vinataxi, they (usually) provide great service and they won't rip you off.

[–]toastymow 18 points19 points  (21 children)

This is common sense in any 3rd world country. If THEY approach YOU they're trying to sell you something. "Fixed price" is a myth, and if you don't know the prices 90% of the time you will be ripped off.

I'm constantly shocked a how naive Westerns are regarding such strategies in Asia/the 3rd world. Its like... yes, they want to steal your money. Its not like they don't do it to everyone else.

[–]StabbyPants 21 points22 points  (12 children)

Its because that doesn't happen here

[–]Indon_Dasani 3 points4 points  (11 children)

Because it's illegal.

[–]CountofAccount 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I think it's more likely a culture that values efficiency and speed. You expect most stores to offer the best price they are able because most shoppers walk away if the first offer is not good enough. Unless it is a big ticket item, the chore to benefit ratio is usually too high to bother. On the other end, variable pricing makes accounting bothersome.

[–]americangoyblogger 14 points15 points  (7 children)

I'm constantly shocked a how naive Westerns are regarding such strategies in Asia/the 3rd world.

Don't forget italy!

[–]Bitter_Idealist 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Why don't they allow the legitimate cab drivers in?

[–]Commisar 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Thanks for the advice. I am heading to Vietnam in January.

[–]Zagorath 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Awesome! I hope you enjoy it! Vietnam's an amazing place!

I would just say that it could be really daunting. To follow that advise you'll have to walk out through full-on Saigon traffic, so if you're not an experienced traveller it might be best if you can get some other arrangements.

[–]megablast 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It was the same for a bus station in Vietnam. Walk 10 meters out the front gate, you get a taxi offering a third of the price. You can't even get the rip-off taxis inside the bus terminal to take you for a good price, they would rather wait it out.

[–]CoppertopAA 6 points7 points  (0 children)

This is why taxi licenses exist.

[–][deleted] 19 points20 points  (0 children)

Elbow grease means outing some effort in it, "palms were greased" means bribery

[–]garrisonc 8 points9 points  (1 child)

perhaps a majority of big city taxi companies are just big money washing machines. in that case, i can see why they'd want to muscle out the competition.

As a cab driver in a major city with a long history of corruption, I'd wager that "perhaps" you are spot-on.

[–]Allen139 9 points10 points  (5 children)

interestingly enough, when i was pulled over for a DUI (scored a .07), my car was towed by my local police dept here in Maryland: the Harford county PD. Apparently they have a contract with a towing company. it occurred on a Friday, I couldn't get my car out because. they were closed all weekend and still charged me for my car being there.

[–]sosota 12 points13 points  (2 children)

I got towed for expired tags and the tow company only took cash and didn't want to give me a receipt. Cops only use one company, you can't tell me they aren't getting kick backs.

[–]Log2 10 points11 points  (0 children)

I hope you made an anonymous call to the IRS about them.

[–]Sanity_prevails 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Some of them are retired police, actually, so may be true

[–]donrhummy 243 points244 points  (127 children)

in the united States, we strongly support social welfare for our wealthiest citizens: corporations.

[–]AffectiveMan 24 points25 points  (4 children)

The Corporate Motto: Why work hard to please consumers when we can just get the government to force everyone to buy from us?

[–]Zombie_Death_Vortex 7 points8 points  (0 children)

The old socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

[–]Frosticus 35 points36 points  (118 children)

Hmm weren't the dems going to fix that? Doesn't everyone say they're going to fix that? It'll never change no matter who is in power simply because they have power.

[–]spacemanspiff30 45 points46 points  (67 children)

As mentioned in the article, and numerous others, it is not who is in power, but how they get and keep that power. Our current system means that you get into power by accepting donations from individuals and corporations to get and keep yourself elected. That makes you beholden to them if you want to keep receiving money from them. It is a broken system, and the Citizens United ruling makes it even worse.

I'm not an economist, and don't have any numbers to back up my belief, but I think that elections should be 100% publicly funded. Each position has a set amount of money based off the tax collected and is apportioned by population. 3 people want to run for the position, they each get a third. 20 people want to run, they each get 5%. It would help to prevent whoever has the most money from winning, since they all have equal amounts, and would then need to compete on positions and looking out for the voters. This would also probably not work without mandatory voting, but I'm fine with that too.

Now, you get people running who actually listen to their constituents, and corporations/obscenely wealthy people don't have an outsized influence on all political matters. Then, I believe you would see savings to the public just because of the lowering of corruption and what amounts to bribery we have today under our current system. It would lead to more innovation and laws better designed to further the goals of the public and the country rather than line the pockets of corporations and wealthy individuals. The added innovations and freedom of the market would benefit everyone, which would help pay for the elections themselves. I'm not foolish enough to think this or anything like it would ever happen, but these are my thoughts on the matter.

[–]Aninhumer 2 points3 points  (1 child)

3 people want to run for the position, they each get a third. 20 people want to run, they each get 5%.

How do you stop a load of people with no intention of winning jumping in just to dilute the funding?

[–]mb86 3 points4 points  (2 children)

Canadian elections aren't entirely publicly funded, but there's a strict, and low, cap that can be spent on campaigning, one easily reached by all the major parties ($1.8M if I recall). How this cap is reached can be a combination of public funding (from Elections Canada), fundraising, or privately donated. Of note, campaigning done by third parties, if I recall, counts against this cap too, making things like super PACs ineffective.

[–]lordlicorice 1 point2 points  (13 children)

This would also probably not work without mandatory voting, but I'm fine with that too.

The whole root of the problem is that undecided voters don't understand the issues and only vote based on what they hear in ads. If it weren't for them, Citizen's United wouldn't matter. And you want to make everyone vote?

[–]spacemanspiff30 1 point2 points  (12 children)

I think that is a load of shit. People understand the issues. They may not understand all the issues, but then again neither does anyone else. However, if everyone is required to vote, then you don't get candidates playing to the extremes, but more to the middle. Also, when people have to vote, they pay more attention to the issues on a whole. It has worked for Australia. There are obviously exceptions to voting, but they tend to be those that are legitimate and not the current apathy.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

The average voted in America is way more uninformed, and you have millions voting based on who will keep their welfare checks coming, and other such one issue voters. There has to be some sort of "test" you have to pass to vote. Even if it's just knowing a candidates positions on 3 mainstream topics.

[–]spacemanspiff30 2 points3 points  (2 children)

You clearly have no idea what you are talking about with your comment about welfare checks. While there are those that do, their number is small and they tend to be the least likely to vote. There doesn't need to be a test other than the current one of being 18 and a citizen. After that, there shouldn't be a test. Even those that are extremely uninformed are a small minority. Plus, once you make it to a high percentage of turnout, the law of averages helps to cancel out the uniformed.

[–]lordlicorice 1 point2 points  (7 children)

I think that is a load of shit. People are idiots. They can't even follow basic logical arguments, notice fallacies, or realize when they're being emotionally manipulated. This is so accurate it's scary.

[–]spacemanspiff30 1 point2 points  (6 children)

That's not true at all. Part of the problem is that the voters are uneducated about the issues because they don't have to be. People in general do understand issues, and this most recent election proves it based on the outcomes. Now, the Congressional seats are a different matter because of the way they are administered leaves them to massive manipulation by those in power wanting to keep power. But if you look to the statewide outcomes, the Senate and Presidential race show that people do decide on issues, even though they claimed to be undecided.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I'd add that citizens can donate to the public fund. Instead of donating a thousand dollars to barrack, you'd donate $500 to Obama and $500 to Mitt.

[–]Askol 1 point2 points  (5 children)

What about people who are personally wealthy?

[–]Indon_Dasani 8 points9 points  (0 children)

It'll never change no matter who is in power simply because they have power.

Pretty sure the point of the article is that they don't really have the power.

The people who have the power are the ones making the decisions - and that's often not the politicians. Instead, it's often their funders/puppeteers.

[–][deleted] 25 points26 points  (27 children)

Full scale revolution!

[–]Strange_Dragons 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Wait. Capitalist revolution? Hell yes.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Limited time offer at KMart!!!

Buy 1 Get 1 Free on Stinger Missiles and all other anti tank weaponry!

Bring a dead body of an enemy soilder and get a free slurpy and therapy session.

Bring a dead body of an enemy commander and get a free pretzel in addition with the slurpy.

[–]IMnotONEtoJUDGEbut 15 points16 points  (13 children)

Where do I sign up?

[–][deleted] 34 points35 points  (7 children)

this revolution brought to you by Nike

[–]Windows_97 14 points15 points  (6 children)

"Just do our stuff"

[–][deleted] 8 points9 points  (3 children)

(That way we can sell you out with gps tracking in the $300 shoes you wore and send missiles to your house while you sleep)

[–][deleted] 7 points8 points  (2 children)

You're now being tracked by the NSA.

Enjoy your day.

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Well we could help Texas secede, but that is a silly place.

[–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Nobody has power in government unless they cheat. That's why it's all going to shit and none of it will change.

I keep saying it's going to take blood to finally fix things, but everybody just wants to watch politicians take bribes from lobbyists and vote in limp-wristed do-gooders that can't do anything because the system favors the greedy.

America was founded on fear of the populace, but we've lost that. We have no more need of the right to bear arms, because America is too lazy and too afraid to use them to unfuck Capitol Hill. Let's vote in another pansy-ass shit-talker and watch him completely fail to end corruption in Washington. Maybe one day your vote will mean shit.

[–]elperroborrachotoo 7 points8 points  (3 children)

It's not that there's a "corp welfare" switch in the white house where you casually stroll over to, confirm with your advisors "that one?", then flip it and high-five a llama.

[–][deleted] 11 points12 points  (2 children)

There really aren't enough llamas in politics, now that you mention it.

[–]HongManChoi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You know, maybe the reason that the Romans had a horse in their senate is that it was actually doing a better job than a lot of the other senators.

[–]eobet 76 points77 points  (98 children)

This is why Sweden is going downhill lately, imo. Back in the 70s and 80s, everything that you'd expect to be a service to your citizens was owned by the government and run as non-profit. Postal service, train services, telephone service, healthcare services, etc. Then they privatized and sold off the trains and telephone, and sure, telephone services might have gotten better (though I'm not sure about it... more "diverse" at least), but trains run very poorly. But then they also began auctioning off exclusive contracts for healthcare services to the lowest bidder. The result? Care for the elderly has gone to shit, and people get upset when they find out that investment firms siphon off taxpayer money offshore, like they are surprised that privatized companies in monopoly positions want to get as much profit as possible. The thing they're debating now is to put the postal services on the stock market. How the fuck they think putting something that used to have a monopoly and be non-profit on the stockmarket will benefit anyone is just ridiculous, since the stockmarket only rewards expansion, and when you used to have complete domination and are now forced to compete you will shrink, so we all already know where that stock will go (down the drain, like most services we used to enjoy here in Sweden).

[–]wadall 29 points30 points  (8 children)

They did what Mexico did. They didn't "really" go capitalist, they sold off services and gave the companies exclusive control to those services.

[–]snusmumrikn 6 points7 points  (1 child)

I may be misunderstanding your post, but they generally don't give the companies exclusive control over a service. Take healthcare for instance, all hospitals are still state-run and a lot of facilities for the elderly are still owned by the state, but now you have the choice of either going with the state alternative or the private alternative.

[–]wadall 11 points12 points  (0 children)

They generally don't, but if they can make money off of it they will. In Mexico, the example I was referring to, they said they are going to go "private" with communication and oil. But what they define as "private" is "only the companies we choose get to own these products." So they block out competition (that is why cell phone use is expensive as fuck in Mexico, and Gas is ridiculous as well). If you wan't to go private, the state has to simply stop, they can't have auctions, or anything, they just need to leave the land. No one is willing to do that however because it would cause a temporary drought in that service.

[–]mallardtheduck 10 points11 points  (2 children)

Sounds very much like the UK...

The money that comes in from selling off nationalised industry is spent on high-profile improvements, which looks good for the next election or two, but then you're stuck with an industry that requires more subsidy than it did when it was nationalised and still requires regular injections of investment, but no way to quickly generate the money to do so.

[–][deleted] 7 points8 points  (1 child)

And Canada. I don't know how anyone thought privatizing power companies would be a wise move.

[–]SuperSonic4 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You'll probably find the ministers who privatised it got themselves and/or their friends cushy six figure "consultancy" jobs which is actually doing very little. Combine with an "I'm alright Jack" attitude and it's not surprising.

To this day the devil is compared favourably to Thatcher in Northern England and Scotland

[–][deleted] 16 points17 points  (11 children)

Why wouldn't making something a government service result in the same strangulation of innovation the article mentions? It just seems like that rather than have an exclusive contract with a private company, you now have one with the state.

[–]mallardtheduck 45 points46 points  (8 children)

Because the state is not trying to turn a profit for shareholders; it's trying to run a service that's good enough not to be an issue at election time. In theory at least.

[–]Mugin 18 points19 points  (7 children)

The state may not rip you off like private companies tend to do, but goverment run services tends to be run like innovation is something that does not apply to them. This is why you need good leaders in goverment run services. Here in Norway we had a financial minister that during the financial crisis said: "This is no problem, people in need of work can just become state employed". In the years past the bourocracy has increased by the double or something, costs have gone up and the service they provide has become worse generally. Norway is rich due to our oil, and the norwegian crown is strong, making everything expensive. What is certainly not needed is idealistic politicians with no contact with reality. They are willing to throw billions at really really bad projects while at the same time go "uhm, yeah, we can't afford to fix this important, easy to fix and relatively cheap thing."

While Norwegian politicians are relatively not very corrupt (Except Giske ofc), alot of them lack the competance to do their job well. "So, you made a big clusterfuck out of your job as transportation minister, how about we move you to the education minister post?" :( Our biggest party, directly translated to "the worker party" havent had a real "worker" in many decades. It's all career, network and getting a sweet international job when their term in goverment is up. Norway also has one of the highest levels of taxation in the world. This is both good and bad in many ways. What is quite hyppocritic is that these top politicians who through a political career has kept the taxes high or even made them higher, get a job in the UN, OECD or simular and then becomes 0% tax payers. Mind you, if they get sick they will still use the health care they no longer pay for.

We have local politicians who sell out the regions hydropower plants while the oil price is high, getting a shit price for something that would have given the region a steady income more or less forever. It's just amazing how retarded some politicians can be.

What is most important is that there's regulations on privately run services, making sure to maintain the peoples interests. By that I don't say private services are better or worse, both can be ran horribly if not kept in line somehow.

The more you look at politics, public and private companies, the more you realize that the most important thing is transparency. People should be able to see where their tax money is spent.

It's a sad state of affairs, but politicians in the US seems to be owned by their contributors and by that they don't serve the people, they serve big corporations first, then the people.

Having half the US treasury being Goldman Sachs board members before and after working for the goverment is a bit of a hint how bad this is. Look at the Bush administration. I nearly find it strange how they did not start even more wars, with them owning billions worth in weapon and other military supplies corperations. Was it last year inside trading became illegal for US congressmen? Jeez.

[–]mallardtheduck 8 points9 points  (3 children)

government run services tends to be run like innovation is something that does not apply to them.

I know it's a limited example, but the research division of the nationalised British Rail was extremely innovative. I doubt there's a rail system in the world that doesn't take advantage of work done by BR. Unfortunately, the research and engineering divisions of BR were first to be privatised in the 1980s and research basically no longer exists.

While Norwegian politicians are relatively not very corrupt (Except Giske ofc), alot of them lack the competance to do their job well.

Which is why politicians should remain at the general policy level, rather than the day-to-day running level. Unfortunately, the press tends to blame the minister in charge of the department for day-to-day failings (and, of course, politicians like to take credit for day-to-day success), which forces them to become involved to a level that they're not competent at.

The most successful nationalised industries (e.g. Germany's Deutche Bahn) are run with a very light-touch approach from politicians.

[–]push_ecx_0x00 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Another example of someone being extremely innovative is DARPA, and CERN receives taxpayer funding as well.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

"Norwegian politicians...lack the competance to do their job well."

Same for America, and that's against both parties.

[–]umilmi81 8 points9 points  (22 children)

The problem with government run businesses is that there is no competition. If service from a private company is bad it's usually because they are forced to charge less money than the service costs.

[–]jmnugent 25 points26 points  (21 children)

"The problem with government run businesses is that there is no competition."

As someone who works for a city-gov... I want to point out that this unfortunate stereotype is NOT universally true. (and I realize you weren't implying it is... but I just wanted to comment anyways).

The city I work in has improved efficiency (overall) for multiple years in a row. Everyone who works as a City-Employee is also a citizen. We don't get any special discounts/favors/shortcuts. We pay the same Utility/Parks/Bus/Police/etc fees as everyone else. Our payroll/benefits are vulnerable to economic downturn and management oversight just like any other company. We understand deeply the importance of being good stewards of tax-dollars (because a portion of those tax-dollars are OURS that we paid in). Our budget is fully transparent and available online for anyone at anytime of day to browse and review.

So while there may not be any competition for some of the services we provide... we're constantly under the microscope and being critiqued by a wide diversity of individuals/groups who all want to things done their way. You have much more access and input and data-availability into the every-day mechanisms of your local city-gov than you do any private entity.

[–]umilmi81 10 points11 points  (4 children)

That's great that your local government still has a moral compass, but a moral compass is not needed or even required. If all of a sudden you and your coworkers stopped being good stewards of the public treasury there would be no repercussions because there is no alternative.

You could say that the politicians running the joint would be removed in the next election cycle, but that is a slow process, and not always exact. If the politicians gave political favors to key people they could remain in power while continuing to provide poor service.

Companies can't do that. If a company offers bad products people will go to the competition, or they will go without. You can't even boycott government services. You still pay for it even if you don't use it.

[–]danielravennest 9 points10 points  (15 children)

You appear to work for a well-run and transparent local government. Unfortunately not all local governments are like that, and when they are not, you have no alternative but to use them.

[–]shoontz 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I think you meant, "palms were greased".

[–]umilmi81 10 points11 points  (5 children)

The logic for signing exclusivity agreements is the initial startup cost. A taxi company needs to buy cars, a cable company needs to run cable. They sign exclusivity agreements to recoup the startup cost. Of course that's just an excuse now. This isn't the 1900's where you're bringing telegraphy to a town with 25 people in it. All businesses have startup costs and they shouldn't be given monopoly rights.

[–]danielravennest 7 points8 points  (1 child)

A taxi company needs to buy cars, a cable company needs to run cable.

This is why business financing and leases were invented.

[–]umilmi81 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Agreed. But they are a recent invention. Before moving off the gold standard the only way to get a loan was for someone with money (gold) to lend it to you. Now you can get a loan with money that comes into existence when the loan is granted.

Again, I don't think governments should grant monopoly status to companies. Just stating why the practice came into existence.

[–]Fake_William_Shatner 4 points5 points  (1 child)

That's absolutely true.

But eventually the situation where a temporary monopoly no longer makes sense arises. And we are long past that for internet service providers, and cable companies. And parking garages and taxi services. The only reason they have systemic monopolies is because of corruption.

And how could anyone compete with them, unless they already had a fat deal in another state? No startup could hope to.

[–]AverageGirls 1 point2 points  (2 children)

There are thousands of reasons for a city to create an exclusive contract with a taxi company. It enables them to keep track of the number of registered cabs. To ensure that all of the cabs are safe. To provide a better cab ride experience. To ensure that the cabs are being deployed in locations where they are needed. To ensure the cab drivers use the same rates and take passengers where they want to go instead of driving them out of the city and robbing them. Et cetera.

All of these things are cheaper and more effectively accomplished by just regulating one company instead of hundreds.

Source: I founded and operate a company that works closely with the regulations of the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission.

[–]BrownianNotion 101 points102 points  (34 children)

There was a good research paper in the February 2012 Journal of Finance by Benjamin Hermalin and Michael Weisbach (here: that created a theoretical model involving information disclosure and its impact on corporate governance. The conclusion relevant to U.S. innovation was that an increase in information disclosure would cause CEOs to shift away from long term projects (such as R&D) and focus on short term profits.

The intuition is that the CEO may have asymmetric information about a project that will be very profitable in the long run but costly in the short run. Increasing information disclosure means that these short run costs are more visible to shareholders, who don't know about the long run profitability, and the CEO is more likely to lose their job. CEOs obviously don't want to be fired so they forgo the long term investment. It also, with similar but different arguments, helps explain why CEOs have been getting more pronounced increase in salary recently and why CEO turnover has gone up.

I'm not sure this is a branch of reasoning that reddit would want to listen to, but it is a very good paper.

[–][deleted] 54 points55 points  (17 children)

This sounds like a good attempt to advocate for reduced information disclosure so companies can hide things like poor investments.

If a company has information that shows a project will be profitable in the long term yet cost a lot in the short term a CEO is not going to get sacked for pursuing it. Shareholders aren't stupid, especially institutional investors like pension funds, and are wise to the benefit of long term goals.

[–]BrownianNotion 39 points40 points  (11 children)

I think it's important to note that Hermalin and Weisbach are academic researchers; they don't have any incentives to "advocate for reduced information disclosure so companies can hide things like poor investments."

Here is a direct quote from the paper:
"This paper argues that disclosure, as well as other governance reforms, should be viewed as a two-edged sword. From a contracting perspective, increased information about the firm improves the ability of shareholders and boards to monitor their managers. However, the benefits of improved monitoring do not flow wholly to shareholders: If management has any bargaining power, then it will capture some of the increased benefit via greater compensation. Even absent any bargaining power, managerial compensation will rise as a compensating differential because better monitoring tends to affect managers adversely. In addition, increased monitoring can give management incentives to engage in value-reducing activities intended to make them appear more able. At some level of disclosure, these costs could outweigh the benefits at the margin, so increasing disclosure beyond that level would reduce firm value."

It's not my paper, but it's a very well written and thought out paper attempting to explain some of the changes we have seen in corporate governance in the last ten years.

[–][deleted] 11 points12 points  (9 children)

Well, the quote you mention is very interesting but it doesn't seem to match your interpretation in your first comment.

You said "ceo's may get fired for pursuing projects with long term profitablity", while the quote seems to imply that i) increased disclosure could result in ceo's being paid more because shareholders are simply more aware of the good work they do and ii) that increased monitoring eventually reaches a point where it is no longer cost effective when compared with the benefits gained.

These are probably valid points but neither seem to support the idea that reduced disclosure is good for either companies or shareholders - they, in fact, say "the benefits of improved monitoring do not flow wholly to shareholders" thus clearly implying that improved monitoring is beneficial both to shareholders and other parties.

I've not read the actual paper so I don't know whether this is representive of the rest of their arguments but, based on the quote, it seems to give a different impression to one you gave.

[–]BrownianNotion 6 points7 points  (6 children)

In the model, increasing information disclosure is assumed to increase expected shareholder payoff. If the CEO has all bargaining power, he/she will be able to capture all of this increased payoff. If the CEO has no bargaining power, the shareholders will be required to pay the CEO more to stay because the CEO has disutility from the increased information disclosure. Since at either extreme CEO wage gets increased, a mix of bargaining power will have a mixture of both effects and CEO wage will definitively increase.

This is the idea that the benefits of improved monitoring do not flow wholly to shareholders: increased information disclosure also causes CEO compensation to rise, which is paid for by the gains in shareholder wealth.

The reason for the focus on more short term profits is that CEO's obviously don't like getting fired. The problem isn't that investors are stupid, it's that nothing is really known. Sometimes a long term NPV positive investment has negative value in the short run and looks like a poor investment. Increased information disclosure will make this more visible to investors and the CEO is more likely to get fired. The CEO is disincentivized to go through with such a project. That's the argument behind a shift away from R&D towards investments that have a quantifiable impact more quickly. That's why they argue that increasing information disclosure past a point can cause decreases in firm value. It's not that "reduced disclosure is good for either companies or shareholders," it's that too much disclosure can be bad.

As a quick edit, I just want you to know that I don't downvote people for disagreeing with me / asking questions like that. I actually want to say thanks for bringing those points up, because it gave me the opportunity to explain some of the reasoning in a way that was more clear than my original post.

[–]usuallyskeptical 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Can you elaborate on the part about the CEO requiring more pay due to disutility resulting from increased information disclosure?

[–]FelixP 1 point2 points  (0 children)

In addition, increased monitoring can give management incentives to engage in value-reducing activities intended to make them appear more able.

"Value-reducing activities intended to make them appear more able" = optimizing for short term gain over long term returns.

[–]therationalpi 4 points5 points  (2 children)

I feel like that explains why private companies like Gore and Bose can dump so much more money into R&D than the rest of industry, they aren't beholden to stockholders that are just looking for a quick buck.

[–]BrownianNotion 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, exactly. I should have made that more clear: the model is specifically for publicly traded companies. The results, including a focus on short term profits in lieu of longer term investments such as R&D, wouldn't apply to private companies

[–]Indon_Dasani 1 point2 points  (2 children)

There was a good research paper in the February 2012 Journal of Finance by Benjamin Hermalin and Michael Weisbach (here: that created a theoretical model involving information disclosure and its impact on corporate governance. The conclusion relevant to U.S. innovation was that an increase in information disclosure would cause CEOs to shift away from long term projects (such as R&D) and focus on short term profits.

Firstly, isn't there already a focus on short-term profits over long-term projects in American business, that isn't at all caused by information disclosure but rather the ability to very easily liquidate and move investments, meaning that, well, equity only barely and technically qualifies as 'investing' anything at all?


Consequently, a point can exist beyond which additional disclosure decreases firm value.

Yes, that's the damn point, part of the idea of disclosure is to prevent businesses from basically lying to stockholders to inflate their firm value, and the disclosure is supposed to reduce the value to justifiable levels.

[–]smithjoe1 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Disclose what? We reverse engineer or redesign things with the exact same capabilities in fractions of the time. This is the china effect, no matter how good your idea is, you need to capitalize on it within the first couple of years and use brand recognition and other market factors to carry you through before the waves of copycats come out and ruin your marketplace.

If you want information disclosure, you need to be selective of your clients and your staff and keep the entire thing private like Elon and SpaceX. Or you work as a service and prevent the disclosure.

[–]Unnatural20 2 points3 points  (4 children)

This runs counter to my pre-existing beliefs, but is very interesting and worthy of discussion. I appreciate you sharing it, and in the informative discourse you and /u/Touch_Me_Elmo engaged in. Thank you.

[–]BrownianNotion 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thanks for reading. I'm just happy people were willing to listen. I think the average person tends to feel like companies should be as transparent as possible and that the recent increase in CEO compensation isn't fair. It's much more complicated than people think though, and this paper gives a very strong argument for a link between the two.

That being said, it's important to remember that it is just a model. Michael Jensen (an excellent researcher) famously wrote in 1978: "I believe there is no other proposition in economics which has more solid empirical evidence supporting it than the Efficient Market Hypothesis. That hypothesis has been tested and, with very few exceptions, found consistent with the data in a wide variety of markets..." It is easy today to make a strong argument against any of the three versions of the efficient market hypothesis. Maybe more papers will come up showing that the results in this paper don't hold if you adjust some critical assumptions. I just feel one should always keep an open mind.

[–]99X 121 points122 points  (22 children)

People that are trying to change the system end up getting fired.

[–]inertiaisbad 32 points33 points  (12 children)

They do. "Don't rock the boat!" seems to be the philosophy in business. I wish I'd learned.

[–]dmix 6 points7 points  (10 children)

Government != Business

[–]inertiaisbad 10 points11 points  (9 children)

Government IS business, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you'll be insofar as paying taxes and not getting screwed too hard. It doesn't exist for our sake - it's just egotistical fucktards that couldn't get a job any other way making more money than you or me scraping by and feeling like rockstars while they screw up.

Keep that in mind - if they could do something else, they would!!!

[–]RPrevolution 20 points21 points  (4 children)

Government is not business. It sometimes woks as a business (I wish it worked as a business more, maybe then it would actually cater to "consumers" and spend money efficiently), and it often forms partnerships with business, but that does not make it equivalent to private businesses.

It has very different characteristics from an actual business. You don't see businesses pointing a gun at pot smokers in their home, or taking people's money with or without consent. It's the monopoly on force that divides government from business.

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

That's a good point. If the government needs more money, they can just raise taxes. And if you don't want to pay those taxes? Prepare to have your assets seized by force.

What private business other than the mafia can come to your house with loaded guns and tell you to pay up?

[–]QSector 23 points24 points  (19 children)

We're in a terrible and seemingly unbreakable circle. Former legislators and/or their assistants become lobbyists for huge corporations and special interest groups. They are the ones who end up dictating what and how laws are written and introduced.

[–]umilmi81 21 points22 points  (16 children)

The answer is to increase the number of representatives in congress. More congressmen means less power for each congressman and more power for each voter.

[–]danielravennest 16 points17 points  (2 children)

This is an important point. The membership in the US congress has not increased in a century, while the population of the country has grown tremendously. Therefore your representation has gone down a lot. It is also evident that Congress simply does not have enough people to do the work. They are constantly tardy in getting budgets done, and don't have time to read the bills they vote on, which are the most basic tasks they need to do.

Party lock-in also reduces representation. If you voted for the loser, your opinions are not represented. So the solution I see is first triple the size of Congress, so you have three seats in each district instead of one. That supplies more people to do the work of Congress. Second, weight the votes of each seat according to the election results. If the number two candidate got 44% of the vote, they get 44% of the three seats = 1.32 weight when voting on bills. The "winner take all" voting system we have now means if you get 51% of the election votes, you get 100% of the political power, which is inherently unfair.

We are not in the 18th century any more, and don't have to count votes by paper ballots that say "Yea" or "Nay" on them. We can use fractions and computers to total things up. The part to the right of the decimal point seems to work OK for money, there should be no problem using it in government.

[–]mh3 14 points15 points  (1 child)

don't have time to read the bills they vote on

I don't think more congress members would solve this problem. Each congress member needs to read each bill. It doesn't scale as a function of congress members IE more congress members can't divide the work of reading bills since they each need to do it.

[–]danielravennest 3 points4 points  (0 children)

You would have more people working in committee, where the majority of the work of drafting bills gets done. Today you often have congress members not attending committee meetings because they have two at once, and not enough time between meetings to review things. This is how we end up with bills written by lobbyists, who hand the text to their favorite campaign contribution recipient, who take it partly because they don't have time to write their own.

[–]Obamafone 3 points4 points  (5 children)

The answer is to decrease the power of government. If there is less return on rent-seeking, corporations will seek profits the good old fashioned way, by innovating.

[–]je_kay24 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Yup and it is known as the revolving door.

What should happen is a law should be made disallowing lobbyists becoming congressmen and congressmen becoming lobbyists.

[–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (23 children)

Reddit, do you see this article as being more against pure market systems, or government regulation? Just trying to understand your mentality, thanks.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I said this above also. I don't think this is arguing against regulations. It is arguing against 'oh so convenient' regulations. Take the copyright one. Copyrights used to be ... 50 years after death. But three times? now as Mickey Mouse's time comes it has been extended for Disney. He isn't arguing AGAINST post-mortem copyright protection, but pandering to Disney is hurting copyright law. Why even have this in place if you just extend it every time Mickey Mouse gets too old.

This article seems to take neither extreme which is probably for the best.

Copyright Term Extension

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (5 children)

Neither. Balance is needed. Pure market system sucks, one of the reasons being it stops being pure when wealth/power concentrates in few hands.

We need regulation, but regulation can be good or bad, is not that obvious? Sometimes good regulation is lack of thereof. Sometimes it's the opposite.

It's a hard to produce good balanced regulation. That's what legislators should be working on. But instead they are working on installing regulations which would benefit lobbyists. At the same time diverting voters' attention with stupid discussions about big/small government, more/less regulation and such.

It's not about more or less, it's about quality of it and who it benefits.

[–]tsk05 6 points7 points  (13 children)

It seems reddit sees this as being against pure market systems somehow, despite the fact that all the problems listed are caused by regulation according to the arrticle.. I don't get it.

[–]umilmi81 18 points19 points  (12 children)

If you want to take a big step in reducing the importance of money in politics, increase the number of congressional representatives. There used to be 1 representative for every 30,000 citizens. Today there is 1 representative for every 700,000+ citizens. Votes don't matter because the vote is so diluted.

Admittedly this would result in about 10,000 congressional representatives, but it would bring the balance of power back to what the founders intended. Each representative would have much less power, and the voice of each citizen would be much stronger.

[–]machrider 5 points6 points  (1 child)

By this logic, the Senate would be much more corrupt than the House. Is there any indication that this is the case?

Also, there is plenty of campaign money to go around. Using 2012's total congressional contributions and 10,000 congresspeople, each would still receive over $100,000 in contributions on average. The total would also certainly go up as the contribution limits are per representative.

[–]umilmi81 1 point2 points  (0 children)

By this logic, the Senate would be much more corrupt than the House. Is there any indication that this is the case?

I certainly think so. I know when Tom Daschle was the Senate Majority Whip his wife was making $800,000 a year doing "political consultant" work for various corporations.

[–]gigadude 14 points15 points  (7 children)

I agree that the problem is that too much power is in the hands of too few people. We should devolve power away from D.C. and back to the states, and in state governance back to local (and more highly accountable) city government.

In my more radical moments I think we should redesign our government along non-hierarchical lines, utilizing information technology to increase direct participation (how to do this without resulting in mob rule is the real trick).

[–]17n 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I strongly disagree. Empowering local governments and reducing national power would result in more controversial laws, decrease unity, and make it harder for the government to stand up to corporations. Red states would completely ban abortion, blue states would institute strict gun control, and everyone would pass laws in their best interest at the expense of other states. It would certainly decrease our unity.

We already have enough problems with state governments bribing companies with tax breaks in order to get them to create jobs in state. How much worse would it be if states had more power to bribe companies and the national government had less power to create nation wide regulations?

[–]umilmi81 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Couldn't agree more. Mob rule scares me just as much as the situation we have now.

[–]RPrevolution 2 points3 points  (0 children)

And restore the republic (decentralize government = more competition in lawmaking).

[–]youlleatitandlikeit 8 points9 points  (1 child)

Finally someone has the guts to talk about the dangerous role of money in politics!

[–]umilmi81 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I like the cut of your jib.

[–]jkonine 8 points9 points  (6 children)

Apple takes a lot of shit, but one thing they don't do is lobby.

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (2 children)

It's true, they don't, but at the same time they're using copyright law to stilfe innovation in their industry. Read this to see why what they're doing is harmful:

It's a good read, and makes you realize what our nation could be if we didn't have so many restrictions on intellectual property.

[–]SCLegend 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I am not supporting Apple on what it does, but to me it seems that they are doing this because of the ambiguity of intellectual property law in the US, especially on software. These laws are out dated, and broken. So can't really fault a company trying to taking advantage of laws in place.

It's similar to US tax laws. Someone can say that the tax code is broken and geared towards the rich. But it would be stupid to not try to pay the least you can.

TL;DR - Hate the game, not the player.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yeah, I agree. I'm not anti-Apple at all. It's the law's fault and they've figured out how to work it. Good points.

[–]HeelGrabber 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Not yet, but those inside the beltway have noticed, and they aren't happy:

[–]jkonine 3 points4 points  (0 children)

That's so fucking sad.

Bribery isn't a taboo anymore. It is a standard business practice. Fucking pathetic.

[–]jonesrr 1 point2 points  (0 children)

They have been lobbying hard for a tax holiday and spent 10-20 million last year.

If small businesses cannot get these tax benefits NO ONE SHOULD. Small businesses are always better for consumers and employees than these giants.

[–]jvan78 11 points12 points  (4 children)

This isn't even close to a new phenomenon. The entire myth of "competition" in this defiled version of capitalism is only still believed by the most easily manipulated among us.

Look at how many markets are cornered by a handful of, if not a single corporation. Comcast is probably the worst offender. The oil corporations are arguably worse, since all of the major ones are nothing more than separate divisions of Rockefeller's Standard Oil. There isn't even a one penny difference between "competing" gas stations on the same corner.

To that point, one must stand in awe at the power of manipulation. Look at all of the radical advances in technology in the realm of entertainment. Smartphones, movie effects, video games, etc... And yet people can still be convinced that in the realm of transportation, by and large we are still EXACTLY where we were a century ago...a 20ish-30ish to the mile a gallon COMBUSTION engine.

Gas Mileage: 1908 Ford Model T - 25 MPG -- 2008 EPA Average All Cars - 21 MPG

Now if that corruption is not clear to you, then I am having a sale on bridges this week.

[–]terroh8er 2 points3 points  (3 children)

In 2008, vehicles were subjected to infinitely more safety and emissions regulations than they were in 1908. They also have air conditioners, radios, and navigation systems because that's what people want. They're faster, quieter, safer and more comfortable than the Model T. That's not corruption. There's no gas wasting device being secretly implanted in cars by the oil companies. It's what people want.

I don't know where you live, but competition among gas stations is pretty fierce around me. The reason the prices aren't much different is because, well, they are competing.

[–]Sumiyoshi 4 points5 points  (3 children)

What are the greater implications of this?

[–]umilmi81 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Soft fascism.

[–]argv_minus_one 11 points12 points  (0 children)

The greater implication is that America is collapsing under the weight of its own corruption.

[–]RPrevolution 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Producers lobby for laws that, they argue, will help consumers, yet consumers suffer as a result. Business hijacks the power of government to benefit, essentially. to further understand this, read The Law by Frederic Bastiat.

[–]Xenu3 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Constitutional Amendment that corporations are not people. Overturn Citizens United. Ban lobbying. Ban offshore banking tax evasion. Tighten IRS Code loopholes. Enact new crime of economic treason. Regulate Investment Banking. Reform the Federal Reserve system.

[–][deleted] 8 points9 points  (16 children)

Corruption and Patents.

[–][deleted] 7 points8 points  (15 children)

If you're saying that patents are inherently corrupt mechanisms, I take issue. If you're saying they are an area of abuse by lawmakers/lobbyists, then okay that's a legitimate argument.

EDIT: the article does not mention patent even once. The Mickey Mouse thing is about copyrights, which is a completely different form of intellectual property. You are completely missing the point.

[–]NRGT 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Welcome to the second dark ages people!

[–]perspectiveiskey 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Funny enough, I do believe there has to be a severe deterioration of civilization as we know it today as a whole for there to be any improvement.

The key is that during that era of deterioration, we don't lose the technical and scientific advances we made that would not be possible to make without cheap energy (oil). Many people forget about how much we've discovered simply because it was cheap.

[–]calculon000 6 points7 points  (11 children)

I think I have a decent understanding of the problem. This seems like a modern iteration of a systemic issue that has accumulated in every major civilization since the beginning of human history that eventually causes each to plateau and decline.

To me it seems to be inevitable. I wish I could see a solution, but I cannot, and this makes me despair. I feel like I'm living during the decline of my own civilization and there's nothing I can do about it.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

The corruption to which I am referring is the phenomenon of money in politics.

There are better ways of having a good impact on the future of a country.

Lasse Birk Olesen says: "Innovation not agitation" is a better way to have an effect on the future.

[–]RPrevolution 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It's amazing how, despite copyrights, patents, and all other mechanisms that reduce the ability to build on other technology, technology manages to press on.

[–]lowtenet 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Corruption is the innovation. Smart, creative minds and energy are channeled into corruption and crime.

[–]truthcanhurt 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Like Lex Luther.

[–]springfieldcolors 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Corruption strangles everything. But for some it is a religion. How do we stop it should be the question?

[–]Obamafone 2 points3 points  (1 child)

This is the fundamental problem with our government today. This is why I do not believe we should be giving our politicians any more of our private wealth.

[–]apeyanne 2 points3 points  (6 children)

Answer: stand up to our politicians. Be willing to vote them ALL out. Clean the whole slate. Find new politicians who will not take kickbacks. Sounds radical, but what other choice is there? Who's going to help the American public, if not the American public ourselves? The politicians sure aren't going to do it. We just have to stop in-fighting and actually work together.... :(

[–]aXenoWhat 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Not an answer. A US politician can't get into either house unless backed by big money- or if he or she can, it will be a one-off.

You guys are so boned. I'm sorry for you. It's amazing how great the US has become, but if you had to pick one nation with the greatest concentration of WTF-ery, it's the US every time. Some things you do are so right, but the majority of the ways you run your country are so backwards it makes me want to cry. And there's no way to fix it because you have run right out of political flexibility.

Your electoral college system traps you in two-party politics. Your two-party politics traps you in entrenched positions. Your populace gets into entrenched opinions. The electoral system results in an arms race of campaign spending. Politicians are then in hock to vested interests. The system ossifies.

My suggestions:

  • eliminate political donations. Fund campaigns from the public purse. Dig deep! It will be cheaper for you!

  • Eliminate second terms. A pol serves a term in Congress, he or she is barred for running for either house again.

However, neither of those are going to happen, because of knee-jerk voting and the ossification of the system.

So, I would advise the West Coast and the Yankees to secede. Form realistic viable countries. Let middle america drown. When they have hit rock bottom, let them back in. You can now update the system.

It will take a crisis for you guys to change. 2008 was evidently not enough.

[–]Chipzzz 2 points3 points  (4 children)

I don't think that any discussion about strangling innovation would be complete without mention of the army of lawyers that appears as if by magic any time a young company appears that it might enjoy some degree of success. Patent trolls, copyright trolls, labor attorneys, and dozens of other "specialists" begin to swarm at the first whiff of potential profit and, whereas established firms frequently maintain their own defensive armies of lawyers (which contribute significantly to the bottom-line price of their products, not incidentally), new and innovative companies can seldom afford such a luxury. The politically correct phrase is, "we live in litigious times", but those times are already decades old and the degree to which this occurs suggests that because lawyers are intrinsically predatory, as a group they have increasingly had to resort to cannibalizing fledgling companies purely because their numbers far exceed the available legitimate workload. I would suggest that it may be appropriate to revive the vestigial laws against barretry.

[–]fantasyfest 2 points3 points  (0 children)

We have oligarchy. Industries are dominated by a few players whose goal is to maximize profits. They quietly agree not to provide service, not to have price wars and not to waste money on innovation and product improvement. That is why cable in America is slow, our phones are behind the world oil prices are the same and we get terrible service. those things cost money. So agreeing not to do them maximizes profits. That is a stupid idea that we think makes sense. That is why corporations will do anything to escape environmental regulation. That is why they will capture regulators. Corporations have no ethics and morality. It is we who have to make them do right. If we fail. They will pollute the world and rob us blind. That is their prime directive.

[–]MajkiF 5 points6 points  (6 children)

Just cut off politicians' hands - take away legal ability to regulate economy by them - nobody will corrupt guys without powers :)

[–]jonesrr 4 points5 points  (5 children)

But noooo.... not my KEYNESIANISM

[–]broconsulate 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Well I guess we'll have to do something about this then, won't we?

[–]slurpme 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Meanwhile in Australia...

Cash may gag council vote

[–]rareas 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I actually couldn't finish reading it. It was pissing me off too much.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It's true, corruption is strangling U.S. innovation.

[–]Bohdanski 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is why we can't have nice things.

[–]Myrmec 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This just in! Politicians are corrupt! Story at 9!

[–]Kopman 1 point2 points  (1 child)

We need to call lobbying what it is, bribing. And we need to pass a law that requires non-compete clauses for every elected official, from local to national that makes it a punishable crime to work in an industry that you have been involved with legislation.

I know that means almost every single industry, but we need to set a precedence that a public official is a public servant, working on behalf of the people, not for themselves.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Comcast xfinity uses hulu to stream a majority of its network shows, and a company like comcast making xfinity (their included free ondemand streaming service) not be counted towards the whole bandwith that month, isn't stopping innovation. It's actually awesome. That would go against the free market if comcast had to stop offering a service their customers enjoy, just because netflix doesn't think it's fair. Lets also be honest about netflix a lot of its content is shit.

[–]fotsirk 1 point2 points  (1 child)

The source of the problem is from creating a power center in government that controls who wins and who loses. Inevitably, money will influence the decisions of the power center and corrupt the outcomes.

The only solution is to minimize or eliminate government involvement in the economy, in every form. I know it sounds extreme, and some involvement can be sustained without too much corruption developing over time (e.g. when the benefits gained from appeasing cronies are less payoff than being reelected), but the root of the problem is the power center and any other proposed solution is only treating the symptom, and not the cause.

[–]usurper7 1 point2 points  (0 children)

less regulation would definitely be better for the US

[–]LianCoubert93 1 point2 points  (3 children)

In many ways this seems to be a product of a capitalist economy having integrated itself into a political system. A process which might have been inevitable all along. We've simply become too good at finding different ways to monopolize financial systems.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Until you force a change in culture you're going to continue having these problems.

Americans have no moral compass, no social values. You live in sprawling suburbs where you don't know your neighbors. You crave meaningful relationships but don't know how to form them. So you fill the void with a pathetic search for power and money.

[–]fmilluminatus 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Well, we reelected the king of corruption (look at Biden's direct connection to the MPAA); and we elect corrupt, scumbags like Obamatron on a consistant basis. TBH, this country gets what it deserves.

[–]Anonymoi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

How lobbying is strangling U.S. Innovation.

[–]Single_Word_Speaker 1 point2 points  (0 children)


[–]grantdunn101 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Did anyone read the republican report that was attached to this article about copyrights? It put some new ideas in my head about that whole system, and to be honest it seems a little flawed. They basically said that copyrights are stifling the productivity of the country. I do think that people who invent things need to get credit, but with the ways the laws are now preventing improvement of current technologies, shouldn't this be looked into. Maybe lax the ways that copyrights are written so that more innovation can take place? Just some thoughts. Please don't downvote me because I think the republicans are onto something here.........

[–]flyhighboy 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Exactly.And their hold and power is so much that it is literally killing the innovation in other parts of world as well. The best example is the food industry in America.

[–]hype7 1 point2 points  (0 children)

well, it looks like i'm way too late to this party, but i'm the article's author and just want to thank everyone here for the really remarkable discussion and feedback.

i'll keep an eye around here if anyone has any questions, too.

-- james

[–]unquietwiki 1 point2 points  (0 children)

There's a story every month or two in Orlando Weekly regarding the corruption in this town. Some examples...

  • Near-monopoly of taxi service by Mears Transportation; they also provide the "Disney Magical Express" of painted-over buses to ferry tourists from airport to Disney property.
  • Amway getting handouts for the Magic + their new stadium.
  • Disney and their allies got the county commission to disregard a 50K sig ballot drive for paid sick leave: they coached the commissioners on how to vote.
  • Disney itself operates in its own legal territory
  • The local toll roads are governed by a mix of public and private officials; they've been caught several times making sweetheart deals on contracts; or playing nice with developers.

I'm pretty sure most major cities have similar arrangements such as these in my "City Beautiful".

[–]daasianmang 1 point2 points  (6 children)

We're looking at you Apple...