The 4th Separation of Powers


It was only a matter of time till people started coming to the same conclusion that many of us have made recently, that there may be more overlap between the tea party and OccupyWallStreet than is readily apparent. James Sinclair over at howconservativesdrovemeaway draws an interesting comparison of the two movements:

We should pay less attention to the individual lunatics, and more attention to what a movement is really about. Occupy Wall Street, at its core, is a reaction to the increasing power and influence of large corporations. The Tea Party, at its core, is a reaction to the government’s constant interference with private enterprise. But wait a minute—aren’t those things connected?

Bailouts, subsidies, tax breaks, special rights and privileges, regulations designed to restrict competition—to name a few of the many ways the government protects and stimulates corporate interests, and those things are every bit as anti-free market as, not to mention directly related to, the high taxes and excessive bureaucracy that gets Tea Partiers riled up. In other words, aren’t these two groups—Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party—raging against different halves of the same machine? Do I have to draw a Venn diagram here?

Oh, alright, I’ll draw a Venn diagram:

While I might quibble with his characterizations of the two, the important part of his analysis is the following:

Yeah, I’m oversimplifying, but only a little. The greatest threat to our economy is neither corporations nor the government. The greatest threat to our economy is both of them working together. There are currently two sizable coalitions of angry citizens that are almost on the same page about that, and they’re too busy insulting each other to notice.

The overlap between corporations and government — the intertwining of corporations and government — is a fundamental feature of creeping fascism in this country. And it will be the undoing of this country if it isn’t stopped.

We all have been educated about the 3 branches of government, and the separation of powers between the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. What the OccupyWallStreet movement needs to do is illuminate the need for another separation of powers, one between corporations and the government’s other three branches.

Congress and the Courts over the years have created a de facto 4th power in this country. Now the people need to raise up and separate it from the other three branches.

  1. BlackBart

    Too many TEA Party members are too busy looking over their shoulders for black UN helicopters — which they’ve been indoctrinated by foreign-financed Fox News to believe in — that they fail to realize they are working for multi-national banks and corporations that serve the interests their Chinese or Saudi investors, who in turn, want to see American power diminished.
    It’s an expertly executed information warfare strategy that is succeeding.

  2. ladybug

    Randians can’t imagine this, so keep the diagrams coming. I think of big, bureaucratic government as The Enabler. Nothing a good shrink and some tough love can’t fix. We can fix this. There is also Venn overlap with the Fed, and global militarism. Fix those two, and a lot of other opportunities open up.

  3. Turner

    “Large corporations lobby for the government to have more power”? Can you offer some examples of this?

    • Ingemar Johansson

      He can’t really.

      Betcha you can find where unions lobby for more power tho.

    • drylander

      WFT, you’re kidding me right? Large corporations lobby the government continually for bit of legislation here, a bit of bending the rules there. (Otherwise known as “power”)
      How is a politician paid back? A dinner here, a plane trip there, a box seat to a pro sporting game, maybe a special rate on a mortgage.
      Consider using a search engine, Swede. I presume you’re capable enough.

    • JC

      Having AHIP funnel the ACA through Max Baucus is a huge example. Remember who wrote the bill?

      Another example would be corporations who want the government to write regulations for things like pesticide applications, because if they follow the regs, it absolves them of liability–even if they cause harm under the regs. Basicaly using the government to cover their asses.

  4. ladybug


    Look no further than the tax code and the enforcement agency, the IRS. Where are the audits of the Fed and “too-big-to-fail” financial corporations that mix regular banking, investment banking, trading, insurance, lobbying and political finance? Ain’t gonna’ happen?

    • Turner

      How are weak regulations of too-big-to-fail corporations evidence that “large corporations lobby for the government to have more power”?

      And whoever said that health insurance companies love “Obamacare” is full of crap. The insurance companies fought, and continue to fight, against it even though they indecently benefit from it.

  5. knifey-spooney

    B’gum, there may finally be a post on this blog I agree with a little bit.

    You want to hear about large corporations lobbying for the government to have more power? How bout this: The insurance companies LOVE Obamacare. They lobbied hard for it. And they lobbied for it specifically because it gave the government more power to force people to buy insurance.

    Big business and big government get along great together. Although I am not a Randian/Objectivist, a truly educated follower of Ayn Rand, who actually paid attention to her books, would know that. Big businesses trying to use big government to their advantage against the competition is one of the central themes of Atlas Shrugged.

    • Dave Budge

      And not only did Rand condemn corporatism she predicted its deleterious effects. As I mentioned before, she referred to big corporate rent seekers as “looters.” I wish I had a nickle for every time I heard the meme that Rand endorsed corporatism. It simply is flat ignorance.

      To be fair, the right has pretty much an equal misunderstanding of Rand as well.

      But I have to chuckle when I think back a few years ago and was summarily referred to as “stupid” when I pointed out that the nexus of government/corporations as fascist. I’m glad that people are finally catching on.

      • JC

        Well, I viewed the personal mandate to purchase industrial health care in the ACA as a prime example of fascism at work years ago. I was basically shouting it at every opportunity. A public option would have negated all of that.

        And we’ll see if the Supremes support this form of fascism, or if they’re more concerned with the politics of defeating Obama and throw the baby out with the bath water (the good parts of the ACA). The whole situation at the SCOTUS is lose/lose in my book.

        • Dave Budge

          Nice example if a counter-factual represented as fact with that “public option” opinion. My guess is that the rent-seekers would just have shown up from another sector. But that’s only a guess.

          • JC

            You make my case for single payer. One that keeps the rent seekers out.

          • Dave Budge

            I’ve actually said that I would prefer single payer to the ACA with or without a public option. I think single payer is sub-optimal – especially vis a vis innovation – but I think it would be far better than what we have now or had recently. So, yes, I am making that case.

            Keep in mind, however, that there would also be great opportunity for rent-seeking in single payer as opposed to say a complete state takeover the system – which is also not free of corruption and distortions. Nothing is perfect so the challenge is to try to eek out the optimal trade-off between equity and efficiency. That’s why it’s so goddamn hard.

  6. ladybug

    Global Militarism?

    “At Least Seven Hundred Foreign Bases

    It’s not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department’s annual “Base Structure Report” for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases — surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries — and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

    These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally.” Reported on HNN, 2003

  7. Jay Stevens

    Love the Venn diagram, but I just don’t see it. In fact, it was only now during OWS from folks looking to tie conservative populism to the current movement that I saw that the Tea Party “at its core, is a reaction to the government’s constant interference with private enterprise.”

    The Tea Party is an identity movement. As Matt Taibbi put it, these people “yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations.”

    Even the Tea Party’s argument about the financial disaster isn’t about corporations’ greed and influence, but about Barney Frank forcing the government to give housing loans to brown people too lazy to pay it back.

    That’s not to say conservative populism doesn’t exist, or that it can’t be tied to the OWS movement — h*ll, conservatives should just show up at the general assemblies and tie themselves to the movment — but it’s just a bit…I dunno…disingenuous to think that the Tea Party movement is more than a reactionary group trying to protect its own economic privleges.

    • JC

      Hey Jay, long time no see! Whatcha been doing?

      I wasn’t trying to read too much into the tea party connection, as my “quibble” statement was meant to show. I mostly wanted to throw out the idea of how to view creeping fascism, and looking at a solution as erecting a 4th separation of powers.

      Just an ideas piece on visualization of problems/solutions.

      • Jay Stevens

        I understand and wouldn’t have commented if it weren’t being discussed so much. Even Matt Taibbi’s doing it. But I just don’t see any benefit from tying OWS to a top-down, 1%-financed, GOP co-opted political party coalescing around conservative identity politics. Identity politics have been the very wedge used to pry people apart and distract them from the very real grab of power by corporatism.

        Do I think conservatives populists have a place in OWS? I certainly think there’s plenty of common ground. I think many folks would be pleasantly surprised that their concerns and ideas would fall on friendly ears.

        But who cares what I think? If conservatives show up at the general assemblies, they will have a place. The GAs are not exclusive. They rely on near-unanimous consent, so any individual who shows up will influence the outcome.

        In short, it’s up to conservative populists if they want to be a part, not me, not the original OWS organizers, or anybody else.

        • JC

          I have no interest in seeing OWS get tied to the tea party. And as you say, if they want in, individually, they’ll come in. It’s interesting to watch as the movement grows, how it evolves. Actually, it’s quite fascinating.

          But what it also does, is give a lot of people the opportunity to raise issues in new lights, and visualizations. No matter how much I shouted about the private mandate being creeping fascism, nobody wanted to hear it. But today, it is getting into the mainstream what the problem is. At least as I see the problem of corruption in our government, and corporate takeover of politics and elections, lobbying revolving doors, etc.

    • Dave Budge

      So, I guess you think the “99%” talk is crap, right, Jay? Don’t want to put words in your mouth.

      • Jay Stevens

        Not at all, Budge. I assume most Tea Partiers — except the people that financed and organized the movement — are in the bottom 99% of income levels in the country and are getting just as shafted by corporate-run government as anyone else.

        But just because they’re sweating at the oar on the bench next to me doesn’t mean I have to endorse their view that Obama was born in Kenya.

        • Dave Budge

          Seems to me you’re just changing the subject insofar as the point of the diagram is what is in common as opposed to fear of association.

          • Jay Stevens

            Hm. I might be. I certainly don’t want to discourage corporate populists from participating in OWS. This ain’t a liberal or Democratic protest, that’s for sure. And if we want these institutions to change, it’ll take a lot of people.

          • Jay Stevens

            I will add that identity politics have no place in OWS, though. Because general assemblies need near-unanimous consent to agree on issues, folks trying to bring up issues that divide or place blame on each other will find it difficult to get anything done.

            That goes for *ssholes who pick on Tea Partiers, too.

  8. Joe

    Hey, I really like the way you put that in the Venn diagram. Do you mind if I use that concept/wording? An over simplification it may be, but that’s what’s needed sometimes to discuss this with folks who may never have thought about it before.

  1. 1 Fascism in America « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] previous post got me to thinking about a better way to visualize how corporations have inserted themselves into […]

  2. 2 Plan B? Cheerleading and Boosterism Fail… « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] a backbone and get to work on things like this? Political salvation lies only in constructing the 4th separation of powers. Of course, the man at the top would have to renounce his unholy corporate alliance to Wall Street, […]

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