Tag Archives: crony capitalism

Trump Continues Practice of Nominating Industry Insiders

In early March, President Donald Trump nominated Peter C. Wright to be the assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM). The nomination of Wright is another indication that the Trump administration will continue the practice of nominating industry insiders and corporate lawyers to positions of power. The White House stated that Wright would help develop “legal strategies regarding Superfund sites and other federal and state-led remediation matters.”

The EPA released a statement detailing the nomination and Wright’s employment history:

Since 1999, Mr. Wright has worked at The Dow Chemical Company where he serves as managing counsel for environmental health and safety and principle counsel for all significant mergers and acquisitions. Throughout his career, Mr. Wright has provided legal support for Superfund and other remediation sites. In 2017, he was recognized with a special award for the oversight and reorganization efforts of the remediation portfolio.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA, applauded the decision, stating that Wright has “the expertise and experience necessary to implement our ambitious goals for cleaning up the nation’s contaminated lands quickly and thoroughly.” Interestingly, Pruitt himself is currently under fire for his recently-exposed connections to lobbyists.

In addition to his work with Dow, Wright’s LinkedIn page lists him as an Environmental Attorney for Monsanto from 1989 to 1996. Wright’s association with The Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto— corporations known for producing hazardous chemicals and pesticides along with genetically engineered seeds— could be an indication that the Trump Administration may have a sympathetic ear for these industries. If so, it would be the continuation of a trend that has extended through the last few American presidencies.

[RELATED: EPA Reverses Approval of Controversial Herbicide]

As far back as the Reagan Administration, the U.S. presidency has been bending to the will of biotechnology giants like Monsanto, Dow, and Syngenta. Former President George H.W. Bush appointed Monsanto attorney Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Former President George W. Bush was also friendly to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, appointing individuals like Donald Rumsfeld, a former president of Searle Pharmaceuticals, to Secretary of Defense. The younger Bush also appointed Linda J. Fisher, a Monsanto representative from 1995 to 2000, to second-in-command at the EPA.

One of the most well known examples of this revolving door between chemical companies and the U.S. government is Michael Taylor, a former lawyer for Monsanto. Taylor worked in the Food and Drug Administration during the Nixon and Reagan administrations before serving as a lawyer for Monsanto. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush appointed Taylor as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy. Taylor was also reappointed to the FDA by the Obama administration.

Charles Koch Blasts Crony Capitalism, Calls Subsidies ‘Welfare for the Wealthy’

At last week’s EY Strategic Growth Forum in California, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch said that government policies aimed at benefiting certain monolithic companies in the short term cause more harm than good in the long term. He blasted corporate welfare and called for CEOs to join him in lobbying against policies that create market distortions favoring particular companies or industries over others.

Koch told Yahoo Finance, “This is creating a two-tiered system where opportunities for the disadvantaged are being destroyed and we’re creating welfare for the wealthy, so it’s unjust.

It’s an unjust system, and it’s making people’s lives worse,” he added.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Koch admitted that his own Koch Industries currently benefits from a variety of incentives, but feels that his company and the U.S. economy would flourish more if politicians leveled the playing field and stopped doling out special favors to certain companies. Government subsidy tracker Good Jobs First notes that Koch Industries has received over $200 million in federal and state subsidies and federal loan guarantees.

We advocate the elimination of all these distortions, even those from which we currently benefit – such as ethanol mandates, restrictions on the export of crude oil and natural gas, and import tariffs. As an ethanol producer and large consumer of U.S. crude oil and natural gas, we profit short term from these market distortions. But rules like these – that don’t lead to good profit – leave virtually everyone worse off long term, including us,” wrote Koch in his book Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies.

Koch said that he fears that government interventions into the economy will lead to a future in which the government and the Federal Reserve control American companies. He said that he believes that free market policies allow customers to drive corporate decision-making, which he feels benefits the economy more than bailouts and subsidies aimed at strengthening top U.S. companies.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: Citizens United Ruling Lets Advocacy Groups Expose Politicians’ Voting Records]

PR Watch points out that the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners advocacy nonprofit “has spent hundreds of millions in elections in part to tackle ‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.

Koch wrote in a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Far too many businesses have been all too eager to lobby for maintaining and increasing subsidies and mandates paid by taxpayers and consumers. This growing partnership between business and government is a destructive force, undermining not just our economy and our political system, but the very foundations of our culture.

Exclusive: Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo Discusses Hamilton’s Curse And Hamilton Fan Boys

When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced Alexander Hamilton’s removal from his featured position on the ten dollar bill, economists, pundits and historians responded.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed his dismay in a blog post, which was reposted by his current employer, the left-wing think tank Brookings Institution.

Bernanke wrote, “Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, would qualify as among the greatest of our founders for his contributions to achieving American independence and creating the Constitution alone. In addition to those accomplishments, however, Hamilton was without doubt the best and most foresighted economic policymaker in U.S. history.”

Joshua Cook spoke with Dr. Tom DiLorenzo, an American economist and professor at Loyola University Maryland who wrote Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution–and What It Means for Americans Today, who disagrees with Bernanke.

“The fact that Hamilton is Ben Bernanke’s hero speaks volumes about Ben Bernanke,” he said.

DiLorenzo pointed out shortcomings in Bernanke’s argument: “One of the things he said is Hamilton should stay on the $10 bill because he was a champion of the Constitution, and that’s simply not only wrong, but the opposite of the truth.”

DiLorenzo said that the famous debates between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson showed their views of the Constitution, and they are quite different.

“Jefferson’s position was that a government should be bound by the chains of the Constitution. That’s the way he put it,” he said.

“Hamilton’s view though was that government should be virtually unlimited as long as it was run by quiver and good-willed people like himself. And that was just the opposite idea of the founders,” he added.

“The first big battle between these two great men came over the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States, which was the first central bank. The Constitutional Convention rejected the idea, explicitly. But Hamilton wanted a bank run by politicians in secret. He was a mercantilist; that means he was in favor of using government basically for the benefit of corporate welfare, protecting tariffs, protecting manufacturers from international competition and that sort of thing that was sort of the British mercantilist system,” he said.

“When they argued over this bank it was Hamilton who invented the idea of implied powers of the Constitution. Jefferson pointed out the obvious that there was no Constitutional authority for a bank run by politician,” he said. “He invented this whole doctrine of implied powers that has been a plague on America ever since.”

“Generations of lawyers and politicians have used his arguments to read into the Constitution things that are not there in a way that the Constitution is quite meaningless anymore.”

Look at the most recent Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare- they ruled it was Constitutional, but they made it all up. “That’s the Hamiltonian vision of the Constitution.”

Another thing Hamilton favored was a permanent President. “His plan at the Constitutional convention was for a permanent President who would appoint all of the governors, and the governors would have veto power over all state legislation, which is the exact system of the British empire.”

“So Hamilton left the Constitutional Convention in a huff, and when the actual Constitution was fully ratified, he condemned it publicly, calling it a ‘frail and worthless fabric’ and he condemned Thomas Jefferson in particular, personally.”

He called Jefferson’s idea of limited government a “symptom of a pygmy mind.”

Another person coming out as a Hamilton fan is Pat Buchanan, who appeared with DiLorenzo on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“First thing he said was Alexander Hamilton is my hero. I basically had four or five people shouting me down. I didn’t really get a chance to say anything about my book,” he added.

Buchanan on the morning show called Hamilton the “architect of the American economy.”

“It’s absurd to call any one man the architect of the American economy. Not even the Russians under the Soviet Union made the argument that one man, Stalin or whoever, was so great that he was responsible for the entire economy. The economy is millions of workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, inventor… That’s what the economy is,” DiLorenzo explained.

Click here to listen to Joshua Cook’s entire interview with DiLorenzo.

Ron Paul Attacks Sheldon Adelson for Cronyism

Former Representative Ron Paul wants billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to stop using his congressional clout to push a ban on internet gambling.

“It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson,” wrote Paul in an editorial. “Mr. Adelson, who is perhaps best known for using his enormous wealth to advance a pro-war foreign policy, is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.”

Earlier in the year, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill that would essential rewrite parts of the 1961 Wire Act to limit “any transmission over the Internet carried interstate or in foreign commerce,” which would essentially ban certain kinds of betting operations.

Supports of the measure deny that Adelson, and his money, had anything to do with the proposed rewrite, but Paul disagrees.

“Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor,” Paul wrote. “Instead, they give a number of high-minded reasons for wanting to ban this activity. Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists!”

Paul added: “But criminalizing online casinos will not eliminate the demand for online casinos. Instead, passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals. Thus, it is those who support outlawing online gambling who may be aiding criminals and terrorists.”

Adelson, who owns casinos all over the world, also started the organization the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Read Paul’s entire editorial here.

 
BenSwann.com covered this issue earlier this year. Check out the video below.

Exclusive: Hospitals Using DHEC to Shut Down Natural Birth Centers in SC – UPDATE

 See update below…

Hospitals are losing millions to natural birth centers and want to use government regulation to eliminate their competition.  According to an employee of a Fort Mill center, Obstetricians from Rock Hill sent an email to a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) board member in order to shut down the center.

They succeeded. In September, the license for a Fort Mill birth center was suspended pending an investigation by DHEC.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the center released a statement saying it is appealing the suspension, which stemmed from “a birth with a bad outcome.”

Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook reached out to one of the midwives who works at the center to get more details.

Christine Struther from Carolina Community Maternity Center states, “we been suspended since September 2nd because of two citations. One was thrown out because they were saying that we didn’t have an agreement with EMS which we do. That wasn’t a valid citation. The other one was regarding a policy statement that we changed and got resolved.”

“So the only reason why we are still suspended is this “physician on call” statute that they are enforcing now. They are able to keep us closed. We are appealing this in court now,” said Struthers.

But this reinterpretation of the statute doesn’t effect just the Fort Mill center. DHEC now requires all birth centers throughout the state to be supervised by physicians or be suspended.

“South Carolina has over 80 percent of physicians working for hospitals already and cannot work for a birth center even if they want to,” said Struthers.  “DHEC is not giving birth centers time to comply with this new interpretation of the law, and Birth centers are now being told that they have 15 days to comply or they will be shut down.”

Lesley Rathbun, owner and director of the Charleston Birth Place, told Charleston City Paper that “the state agency is reinterpreting its regulations for birth centers and could end up shutting down non-hospital birthplaces across the state.”

“We’re really concerned about what’s going to happen to the consumers,” says Rathbun. “They do about 30 births a month here, and similar numbers in the other birth centers,” Lenehan says. “These people, as you can see, are looking for a really different product than they’re going to get in the hospital, and they’re not going to be able to get that elsewhere. This is safe, it’s cost-effective, and it’s what the customers desire. So what’s going to happen to all these mothers who are due in three weeks?”

Joshua Cook asked Struthers why expecting mother choose to deliver at natural birth centers?

cozy room“Our birth center is beautiful and people love it. I had people literally come into a tour and cry because they want to be here because it’s that nice. They get to be with the same person. If I’m your client, I’m with you the whole time,” said Struthers.

Citizens are outraged that they may lose the freedom to choose where to birth their children because of crony capitalism. 

A licensed Midwife, Brandy Brandfass states,H. 3731 is nanny-state legislation at its worst. South Carolinians have historically placed great value on the freedoms we have. When we leave families without access to trained professionals, we eliminate their option to decide among varied, highly-educated maternity care providers. It is restraint of trade, and an attempt to medical monopoly.”

Struthers concurs with Brandfrass and believes that there is a financial motivator behind this audacious move to shut down birth centers. “If you go into a hospital it will cost you over $11,000, and a cesarean section is double that. In S.C. the cesarean section rate is around 34% and last year our cesarean section was about 2%  … that’s a lot of money these hospitals are losing.”

 

Struthers is encouraging people to join them in a protest this Monday, Demonstrate DHEC – Rock Hill Rally, and supporters of birth centers have created an online petition with over 2,400 signatures so far.

 

We just received this breaking new from the South Carolina Birth Coalition and from a local birth center. There will be an official press release that we will publish here.

Read the South Carolina Birth Coalition message via Facebook.

 

Is Monsanto America’s Best Example of Crony Capitalism?

Transcript:

It is a name that Americans are hearing more and more, Monsanto.

An agriculture company that has become connected to the term GMO’s. So what is Monsanto? What exactly are GMO’s? and why are people so up in arms about a company that grows food?

And the big question, is Monsanto one of the best examples of America’s crony capitalist system?

The first step toward truth is to inform.

If the name Monsanto is not familiar to you, lets get you caught up.

According to Monsanto’s website,

“Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company. We deliver agricultural products that support farmers all around the world. We are focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. We do this with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables.”

Sounds pretty good.

In short, Monsanto is company that among other things, produces the herbicide roundup. But the controversy surrounding Monsanto begins with their development of genetically modified seeds or GMOs that are called “round up ready”. Round up ready crops are reportedly more resistant to weed killer and insects.

According to Natural News, a growing body of evidence does connect GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

According to professor John Fagan, an award winning geneticist:

“The process of genetic engineering always involves the risk of altering the genetics and cellular functioning of a food organism in unanticipated ways. These unanticipated alterations can result in (GMO) foods being allergenic, toxic, or reduced in nutritional value”. – Professor John Fagan, Maharishi University of Management, Iowa

Concerns like those have pushed millions worldwide into the streets to protest Monsanto and their GMOs. In May 2013, two million people in over 50 countries expressed outrage over a number of issues surrounding Monsanto.

The first issue with Monsanto is the safety of those GMOs. But there is more.
While there is growing concern over the safety of GMOs, the United States for all of the requirements placed on the food industry, requires no GMO food labeling.

Whether you agree or disagree on whether or not GMO’s are dangerous, 64 other countries require GMO labeling. Again, the United states does not. Could it be that most Americans just don’t care? Actually no. Despite the lack of political will on this issue, a poll, conducted earlier this year by The New York Times found that three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the number of genetically modified or engineered foods. What’s more, a staggering 93% support mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

So to recap, first, there is the concern over GMOs. Second the concerns over labeling and third, there is the issue of Monsanto holding a patent on all of its seeds.

Monsanto explains on their website the need for that patents saying,

“Monsanto patents many of the seed varieties we develop. Patents are necessary to ensure that we are paid for our products and for all the investments we put into developing these products. This is one of the basic reasons for patents. … Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day in research and development that ultimately benefits farmers and consumers. Without the protection of patents, this would not be possible.”
You see, when a farmer purchases these genetically modified seeds from Monsanto, they sign a signed a licensing agreement promising to use all the seed and not to use any regenerated seed for future.

So to recap… the issues with Monsanto, questions about the safety of GMOs are out there though we should be clear. there are those who argue that GMO’s are perfectly safe and no issues with consuming them. There are questions about labeling. Regardless of whether GMOs are good or bad shouldn’t the public have the right to know what they are putting in their bodies and have the right to consume or walk away? And questions about the ability of a corporation to be able to patent seeds, preventing farmers from replanting crops without paying a fee?

Ben Swann Monsanto Reality Check

What you need to know, is that all those questions may actually be secondary to this one, is the biggest problem with a company like Monsanto its relationship with government?

In the early 1990’s the FDA took a look at these genetically modified foods. There were a lot of concerns including tests that showed rats were developing stomach lesions from the Genetically modified tomatoes they were fed. According to Jeffery Smith at the Huffington Post, in memo after memo, these experts “described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens,”

So what changed? In 1994 the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service hired a new administrator, Mike Taylor.

Taylor had worked for the FDA in the 1970’s and then in the 1980’s he became a private sector lawyer for a firm that represented Monsanto.

In 1994 Taylor takes over the FSIS and remains in that post until 1996.
1996, GMO foods began showing up on plates in American homes.

After 1996 Mike Taylor goes back into the private sector and goes to work for Monsanto itself.

For the next 16 months he works directly for the company.

In 2009 returns to the public sector now leading the food side of the FDA.

In fairness, Mike Taylor says he is not Monsanto’s man. That claims that he is bought and paid for could not be further from the truth.

In fairness, I don’t know if that is true or not. What I do know is that regardless of whether or not its true the revolving door of government and private sector and the advantages big corporations have in the system is undeniable.

Monsanto’s influence over food supply is troubling. Their ability to seemingly prevent GMO labeling also troubling. Their connections with people like Mike Taylor who have the ability to control what does and does not show up on our families tables, sure smells like crony capitalism

and that is Reality Check.

Sources:
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/037678_michael_taylor_monsanto_fda.html#ixzz2bymPGQf3

http://www.pubpat.org/monsanto-seed-patents.htm
http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers/65-health-risks/1notes