Elizabeth Warren Illustrated How Power Corrupts Back in 2004

I watched a video this morning which offers an insight into the nature of politics in the USA. It is from 2004 and it's a video in which Elizabeth Warren relates a story about meeting Hillary Clinton, the First Lady, and being invited to explain her case against a bankruptcy bill. Clinton understood it and worked to oppose it. In the end, President Bill Clinton Vetoed it.

According to Warren's story, this unkillable bill came back into the senate later, introduced by Senator Hillary Clinton. We have heard that power corrupts. We have heard very cynical ideas about how politicians are only motivated by re-election. This story is a bit of evidence that it's true.

Now I'm not here to help out either of the presidential candidates. We know that no one will be "perfect" and someone has to be elected warts-and-all. Its nice to know what some of those warts are.

I do not take Hillary Clinton to be particularly different than any other politician in this regard. She is the same in kind, even if she may be different in degree. Her constituency consists of her largest donors: both in money and PR opportunities. Because that's how you play the game.

That is how Trump will play the game.

We reject ideologues because of their detachment to reality. But there is a name for a person that compromises every principle they claim they had in the name of practicality: Hypocrite. You cannot have integrity without also having some unmovable principles.

Many voters, fearing ideologues, prefer from their politicians a pragmatic consensus-building way. The pragmatist, however, has every reason to obey the incentives that the system provides. The alternative is getting eliminated from the game too soon. And before you know it, many politicians no longer have any unmovable principles except the ones that keep a politician playing the corporate donor game as long as possible.

The age of industrialism has brought mega corporations and mega government into existence as evil partners that care nothing about your Liberty. Some of the strange behavior we are seeing in the world is a rejection of unaccountable government as it is. I think Trump's campaign is an ill-conceived version of this. I think Brexit is a version of this. I think the relative success of the Sanders campaign was a version of this.

I'm likely to vote Libertarian. It's a way of refusing to play the game as presented. The world goes to hell either way unless some of us stop being so damn pragmatic and give some sense of importance to principles.

So I'm playing a longer game. A game where I attempt to elect people who will act to make government smaller no matter how short their political careers will be. We know everyone else just wants it to be larger since that expands their power (and deepens their corruption).

I will also play a longer game of putting less money on credit cards, because screw these companies if they're going to use profits to lobby the hell out of government. One man can't starve them out alone but one man can perhaps start a movement.

I reject the incentives of the credit card companies. You can keep your 2% cash back in exchange for your 3%+ transaction fees. No thanks.

Nothing in this world comes for free. And odds are that people giving things to you are taking more than they are giving. We should be wary of any incentives presented to us and at least try to understand secondary effects of our actions. A secondary effect of charging everything to a credit card is that the price of everything is increased to cover the transaction fees.

I'll have to decide how I feel about this long term but it occurs to me as an afterthought that it wouldn't be a horrible thing if someone were to create a system to allow people to pay one another on the internet completely bypassing the credit card systems. I'm not sure that bitcoin is it. Paypal certainly wasn't it.