Sunday, November 17, 2013

Expect More or Settle for Less

The New Independent Whig has consistently spoken out against the mischievous notion that the American voter ought to be content with voting for the “lesser of two evils.” If the Founders had shared this view, they would have been content to wait patiently for British tyranny to mend itself, and the world would have never seen the bold experiment in democracy that is the United States of America.
Judas in 2016?

Instead of the slogan “accept the lesser of two evils,” we propose a different slogan: expect more or settle for less. This is to say, that if we as Americans do not have a minimum set of standards by which we judge the fitness of political leaders, our leaders will continually disappoint us, and the ghost of British tyranny will rise from its grave and crush our hard-won liberties. 

As it stands, the American people have remained complacent as corrupt political leaders have frittered away America’s economic prosperity, placed the interests of a small clique of bankers over the interests of the American people, thrown millions into lasting unemployment, rendered uncertain our earnest efforts to provide for our own retirement, and gutted the Bill of Rights. The American people have been rendered unknowing, fearful, and servile. Rather than demand a seat at the table, the American people are content to feast on the scraps that have been left behind.

The New Independent Whig proposes the following as minimum standards by which politicians ought to be judged, before we consent to vote for them. These standards reflect the beliefs shared by a substantial majority of Americans, based on the results of opinion polls. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a modest beginning.

Public Financing of Elections

The majority of Americans are unhappy with the Citizens United decision, which has opened the floodgates for nearly unlimited campaign contributions by private interests. Contributions by anonymous private interests have increased by 384% since Citizens United was decided. Opposition to this travesty of law runs 4 to 1 (source). The only decisive response to this frontal assault on democracy is to enact laws requiring that elections be publicly financed (source, source, source). By “public financing” we mean the absolute prohibition of campaign contributions by private interests, in favor of a means of financing elections using public funds. 

Public financing restores the meaning of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which holds that every American is entitled to equal protection under the law. Under the current regime, monied interests are allowed to choose the candidates who rise to national prominence, and the voter is forced to choose among candidates that have been hand-picked by these monied interests.

As it stands, 

The cost of running campaigns for elected office is skyrocketing. The average winning U.S. Senate race in 2006 cost nearly $10 million and the average winning House race that year cost $1.3 million. The decisions about who runs and who wins in our democracy increasingly come down to big money and special interests, not regular voters.

With the corrupting role that big money has on politics brought to light in recent Congressional scandals – and the regular passage of pork-barrel spending projects – the need for reform is increasingly clear. Special interests and wealthy donors have an inordinate amount of influence on politicians through campaign contributions, which undermines voters’ trust in how Congress works and can lead to manipulation of public policy – often against the interests of the public (source).

Strict Enforcement of the RICO Act

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act authorizes criminal penalties against any organization that exists in order to facilitate violation of certain state and federal laws. Once the public financing of elections has become the law of the land, RICO enforcement can be applied to political parties that accept bribes and campaign contributions from private interests. Other laws covered under the RICO Act are bank fraud, slavery, and peonage.

Bank Fraud

Bank Fraud and its penalties are as follows: “Whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice— (1) to defraud a financial institution; or (2) to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises; shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both (source).”
Nov 12 (Reuters) - The federal judge who oversaw the recent civil fraud trial against Bank of America Corp. criticized the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday for failing to prosecute high-level executives over the financial crisis.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of Manhattan said while companies have been prosecuted for causing the 2007-2009 financial meltdown, Wall Street executives have escaped justice.
“The failure of the government to bring to justice those responsible for such a massive fraud speaks greatly to weaknesses in our prosecutorial system that need to be addressed,” Rakoff said (source).
Bank of America is guilty of defrauding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because its employees knowingly sold shoddy mortgage products these agencies. Judge Rakoff implores that future prosecutions shift from fining incorporations and instead imprison individual employees from the top levels of corrupt corporations. 

Slavery and Peonage
Slavery (forced and uncompensated labor) is expressly prohibited under the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Constitutional protections apply first and foremost to citizens and residents of the United States. So there is some question of whether multinational corporations that facilitate slavery overseas are in violation of the Constitution. This issue is addressed in an article by Tobias Wolff in the Columbia Law Review

Wolff, a legal scholar, asserts that the 13th Amendment “forbids the deliberate incorporation of slave labor into American industry” and that the “knowing use of slave labor by U.S. based entities in their foreign operations constitutes the presence of 'slavery' within the United States.” 

He supports this assertion by reviewing the case law. He notes that the 13th Amendment prohibits an American from owning a slave, and that the 13th amendment prohibits U.S. entities from engaging in the business of supporting slavery, even in foreign jurisdictions. Ergo, American corporations operating overseas must not give direct or indirect support to the practice of slavery. And, by extension, the American worker must not be forced to compete for wages against slave laborers. 

Our editorial position is that Mr. Wolff’s assessment is correct, and that organizations are liable under the RICO Act if they facilitate the practice of slavery anywhere in the world. Countries with a high prevalence of slave labor include Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, and India. China has the most slaves of any nation on earth, with an estimated 14 million people in bondage (source). 

Mr. Wolff’s assessment also applies to peonage. According to existing federal law, “Whoever holds or returns any person to a condition of peonage ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” If a worker dies as a result of his or her peonage, the criminal penalties increase accordingly (source). 

Peonage is defined as “a condition of enforced servitude by which the servitor is compelled to labor against his will in liquidation of some debt or obligation, either real or pretended.” United States corporations that do business in China are, in numerous instances, employing workers who are, according to the standards of U.S. federal law, peons (source).


In this post, we have highlighted certain principles which, we believe, can be endorsed by a majority of Americans regardless of his or her political party loyalties. The 2016 presidential election campaign is not far off, and we beg the reader to reject any candidate who does not support the public financing of elections, and who does not support the enforcement of existing laws concerning bank fraud, slavery, and peonage. The New Independent Whig is not supported by advertising but by a passion for democracy. Please share this article with friends.

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