Entries in crony capitalism (6)


Ralph Nader’s speech to conservatives re. crony capitalism

The American Conservative (TAC) is the publication that predicted the fall of the Bush dynasty and the rise of Donald Trump.  They wrote about the populist shift in GOP politics when most Washington-based journalists were confidently predicting that Paul Ryan was the next big thing.

The American Conservative recently held its 2nd annual conference on crony capitalism, "Cronyism in Action: Government's Cozy Ties to Big Tech & Big War." Ralph Nader gave a special address on the Military Industrial Complex entitled, "Eisenhower's Warning: Prophetic and Presently Understated."  You can watch it here:

The conference began with opening remarks by the Hon. C. Boyden Gray, former ambassador to the European Union, and a board member of The American Conservative The first panel, on the military-industrial-congressional complex, featured journalist and TAC contributing editor Mark Perry as moderator, POLITICO reporter and defense editor Bryan Bender, investigative journalist and TAC contributor Gareth Porter, Mandy Smithburger, director of the Project on Government Oversight, and Caroline Dorminey, a defense policy analyst at the Cato Institute. You can watch a video of the first panel here:

The second panel debated the role of cronyism in the technology industry and featured TAC executive editor Lewis McCrary as moderator, writer and Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller, Washington Examiner commentary editor

Tim Carney, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Stacy Mitchell, and Information Technology and Innovation Foundation founder and president Robert D. Atkinson. You can watch a video of the second panel here:

For more information or to subscribe to The American Conservative, please contact John Burtka, at… jburtka@theamericanconservative.com


Dem Vice Chair Delgado-Polanco is a poor excuse for a labor leader

You have to wonder how some people become labor union leaders.  Most still work their way up through the ranks.  They serve as apprentices, learn their trade, spend years in the trenches, before their fellow brothers and sisters elevate them into leadership.  

But then there's this political appointee fast track.  The military has something like it too.  If you have a qualification they need, you spend two weeks learning how to salute, and then get a bar pinned on you.  No trenches required.  Labor unions have this too.  Just ask Troy Singleton.  He went from Joe Robert's bagman to a union rep in one easy fix... but can he swing a hammer? 

We don't know how Democrat Vice Chair Lizette Delgado-Polanco achieved her position in the hollowed Carpenters & Joiners Union.  We note that she was promoted up through the political side, where it is more important to recite the tired old lines of identity politics, than it is knowing a screw from a nail.  

Delgado-Polanco worked for Charles Kushner (Jared's dad, Ivanka's father-in-law) on Jim McGreevey's 2001 gubernatorial campaign.  She was rewarded for her efforts and given a job in management -- on the wrong side of the negotiating table -- in 2002.  

So how working class is she... really? 

What people like Delgado-Polanco forget is that identity politics is bullshit and what really determines your place in the world is economic class.  Rich one-percenters -- whether they be black, white, or galvanized -- they will have their asses fanned in all the world's garden spots.  And management -- no matter its color or gender or identity -- will always serve the corporation to squeeze the most out of its workers for the least.  Solidarity based on identity is a farce.  

On Tuesday, Delgado-Polanco put out a statement on behalf of the Democrat Party that is plainly out of step with the interests of the blue-collar workers who make up her union.  She put the crony capitalist policies of the Democrat Party of Governor Goldman-Sachs II ahead of the interests of her union brothers and sisters.

The Sanctuary movement doesn't help anybody except the crony capitalist establishment who want a steady stream of unorganized labor at near-slave wages.  It consigns those good people who come here to near-slave status and entraps them in whatever conditions the crony capitalist chooses to keep them in.

The creation of a permanent gray economy undermines any advances made by increasing the minimum wage or mandating benefits, because there will always be the lucrative alternative of going gray.  And the more this "gray" work force is supported by government programs -- the more jobs it will be able to perform at less cost to the crony capitalists who write these "sanctuary" laws (or pay lobbyists to do so).

How does creating a government-supported workforce to drive down wages and drive up competition for jobs benefit the brothers and sisters who make up trade unions like the Carpenters & Joiners Union? 

America's immigration laws are a mess for a reason.  They are purposefully designed to make it very difficult to get into the country and stay legally and very easy to stay illegally.  The system is purposefully designed to create a large pool of near-slave labor. 

Why grow that pool?  Why add to the gray economy of people being used to drive down labor costs?  It is unfair to the immigrant here illegally and most unfair to the skilled worker who must compete with low wage-earners or go without.  It is unfair to the consumers and taxpayers who are paying a high price for the product of unskilled workers.  It only benefits the crony capitalist in bed with the politician.  One gets more money, the other more votes (and some dough for the campaign, no doubt).

The way forward is to create a legal immigration process that takes into account the existing labor pool to protect their jobs and wages.  The great labor union movement once served to raise the working class up from poverty.  Don't allow a few misguided "leaders" to conspire with the political class and their crony capitalist paymasters to drive down wages and destroy the hopes and dreams of working people.

Lizette Delgado-Polanco... meditate on this...


Poll: Voters want to end newspaper subsidy

Last December, there was much debate over whether or not to end the newspaper subsidy.  This is the $80 million in revenue certain New Jersey newspapers get each year because county and municipal governments, as well as private entities and other governmental agencies, are forced by law to run public notices or advertisements at the back of these newspapers.


It is one of the first things that county and municipal governments do each year, in January, at the annual reorganization meetings held all over the state.  Along with selecting various vendors, handing out contracts for the year, they decide which newspaper(s) will get the government-mandated subsidy.  It places the newspapers who cover those bodies in a funny position and a potential conflict when covering the officials who decide on who gets the subsidy.


Legislation was proposed last December to end the requirement that municipal and county officials pay to publish public notices in printed newspapers, and instead allow them to save that money collected from property taxes by posting ads for official actions such as sheriff's sales, ordinances and bid solicitations, on their own websites.  In response to this, the newspaper industry launched a lobbying effort that was unprecedented in its scale.  Full page ads were run, newspaper employees were asked to call their legislators, and money was spent on a grassroots social media and lobbying effort.  And in a clear conflict of interest, editors took to the phones to strong arm legislators who were even thinking about voting for this reform.      


The newspapers' efforts surprised some.   Others noted that they had no choice, because many depend on the revenue they get from mandated government advertising. 

The legislation ended up being placed on hold, but not before extensive polling was done throughout the state.  In January, a poll conducted in Northwest New Jersey showed that in Sussex County, 67.3 percent of voters wanted to end the newspaper subsidy and the public notices requirement.  Despite the intense lobbying campaign on behalf of the newspaper industry, only 18.4 percent of voters in Sussex County wanted to maintain the subsidy.  14.3 percent were undecided or refused to answer.


We suggest that the New Jersey Herald make the newspaper subsidy it enjoys and the legislation to reform it one of the questions it asks candidates for the state Legislature.  The voters deserve to know where each candidate for public office stands on this form of crony capitalism and what to do about it.


This issue isn't too different from that of ObamaCare.  There, government orders you to buy coverage from a for-profit company that sells health insurance, even if you don't need it.  Here, government orders your tax dollars to be spent to print public notices at the back of a newspaper -- owned by a for-profit corporation -- even if it is unnecessary and something a searchable website can do better.


No wonder certain newspapers hate all Republicans.  Republicans support this reform.


Hilarious new ad from Represent US

The reform group makes an important point in its new ad:

On a more serious note...


Crabb, Vohden, Mudrick appoint crony to top job

Earlier this year, Sussex County Human Services Administrator Stephen Gruchacz, aged 67, was telling people that he was all set to retire.  Many believed that Gruchacz would be the fifth top county bureaucrat to hand in his resignation in the aftermath of the county's solar debacle. 

Instead, three of the five county freeholders got around the State's Open Public Meetings Act to successfully negotiate a deal with Gruchacz to stay on -- provided he got a promotion and a 22% salary increase.  At Wednesday's meeting of the county's Freeholder Board, Gruchacz was appointed County Administrator, Sussex County's top unelected bureaucrat, on a 3-2 vote (Crabb, Vohden, Mudrick voted yes; Phoebus and Graham voted no).

Of course, the $30,000-per-year salary increase the three Freeholders gave Gruchacz came with a three-year contract.  In effect, they gave him a pension boost as well.  It's nice to have friends in high places.  Word has it that the votes of the three Freeholders for Gruchacz were delivered by outgoing County Administrator Johnny "Wildthing" Eskilson. 

On the same day that Freeholder Vohden was insisting that destroying the audio recordings of what he said during the negotiations that led to the solar debacle was nothing more than "following the law",  Vohden led a posse of Crabb and Mudrick in ignoring the County's law that requires the top job be filled by someone residing in Sussex County.  Gruchacz lives in Somerset County and pays his property taxes there.  Taxpayers screwed again.  This man doesn't even feel our pain. 

However, the Gruchacz appointment did make it plain who runs the county -- it's the outgoing County Administrator and the three Freeholders (Vohden, Crabb, and Mudrick) one of whom was just defeated for re-election (Mudrick came in four out of four).  Instead of taking the will of the voters into account, Gruchacz was appointed over the strong objections of the County's legislative delegation, other elected county officials, and numerous local elected officials.

Nobody thought it a good idea to hand Gruchacz a three year contract.  All these elected officials advised giving him no more than an interim contract as provided for by law, but Eskilson got to Crabb who infected Vohden, leaving Mudrick, who just slavishly obeys.  One can only wonder what kind of cooperation the County will get from Trenton after pulling a stunt like this.

At Wednesday's meeting, Freeholder Crabb referred to Gruchacz as "Best of Breed" -- apparently forgetting that the term is used in judging dogs.  On the other hand, this might well be a real dog of an appointment.