And if by some miracle you're tried and found guilty, you can even buy your way out of serving any time and you can even buy a presidential pardon and have your crime expunged.
If you're rich, vast majority of laws simply don't apply to you. Yet there's so many laws on books and many of those laws are so vague that an average person commits several felonies every day. 
(I think you are misunderstanding this metaphor, as Justice being blind is actually supposed to be good: it means Justice makes decisions without bias or regard for who the parties are, only able to analyze the facts. A corrupt court that benefits some people over others based on connections or group affiliation would imply Justice not being blind.)
There is no such thing as a corruption-free government because it is made of human beings but I think that the US Govt has definitely trended in the right direction over time. I hope the trend continues, more transparency is a good thing.
Shkreli's case shows the partiality, politics and bias embedded in our justice system. He was unable to even serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest as very reasonable covid safety precautions despite his crime being entirely nonviolent.
The justice system is in many ways the government's instrument of vengeance. You can clearly see this with O.J. Simpson's 33 year sentence in 2008 for armed robbery. Essentially, a new fluff case was used to dole out an improportionate sentence. as retribution for the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. [4,5]
The truth is that Shrkeli pissed off a lot of people in powerful places. None of the investors wanted him tried because he ended up making them all a lot of money.
Worse, money is protected speech, and using it to buy influence is protected by the law!
There are MANY established institutions in the USA that will fight tooth and nail not to change, because the established players are getting exceedingly rich the way things are now, to the detriment of everyone else.
I don't. They're cover and the lightning rods for other reps in swing states.
Also, a large chunk of the country does not want this legislation to pass (I'd even go as far as to say potentially a majority).
No, I believe it is more than two democratic senators, I don't know how many. That is why I put half dozen, in parenthesis.
Poll after poll shows the legislation is popular, even in Manchin's own state. Same in Arizona. What provisions of the bill do you disagree with?
I don't support expansion to medicare or medicaid (although the ability to negotiate on drug prices seems reasonable). We are already facing a looming funding crisis for social security & medicare and I don't think it's reasonable to put even more debt on future generations.
If the US wants a European style social safety net, the US middle class is going to need to help pay for it which I don't think they're willing to do.
Blocking this type of radicalism is why the Senate exists. You saw the same thing happen during President Trump's administration, when an extremist tax bill was proposed, and much of the radicalism in that legislation was removed by the same senate, with the same howls about obstructionism being levied at moderate Republican senators from the GOP base.
Basically go down the line of the major legislative efforts and you see extremist stuff being passed by the house, and then toned down or dropped in the Senate. And not only legislative efforts, but the entire history of the two bodies, the Senate is usually the moderating force.
Thank God for the Senate.
Negotiating drug prices is bad? Asking corporations (that are making record profits) pay their fair share of taxes is radical? Two years of free community college is divisive? Including dental, vision in medicare is bad?
Can you point out and explain what parts of the bill is divisive and bad? And why?
And please don't say the amount is too high. 3.5T is over 10 years, the US govt spends 750B on military, in a single year.
No, that's fine. It's the 3.5 Trillion in pork and expansion of government powers that's the problem.
> Asking corporations (that are making record profits) pay their fair share of taxes is radical?
This is a weird soundbyte. Please stop it with "pay their fair share". Increasing IRS snooping powers on all bank accounts of private citizens is bad and does nothing to promote corporations "paying their fair share". There are lot of orwellian aspects to this reform. A simple VAT tax and elimination of corporate taxes would be more fair and also less intrusive. That would also bring us more inline with a european style tax system and eliminate corporate tax avoidance. It's also a proven system that works well in Europe.
One thing the left needs to understand is that corporate taxes are basically sales taxes. So if you are going to be applying a national sales tax, do a VAT. That will immediately solve your foreign tax shelter problems because you are taxing sales and not "profits", which are subject to all sorts of accounting gimmicks. Sales are clear and they happen in a specific geographic area. Just tax sales net of domestic input costs. This is actually one of the policies floated in the Trump administration but was of course never adopted seeing as how corporations opposed it (for obvious reasons).
> Two years of free community college is divisive?
It's terrible policy. We need to cut government subsidies of higher education in half and finally open up a system of trade schools for the majority that shouldn't attend college. Trade schools, and not two years of community college, is what we need.
The problem with US education spending, like with US healthcare spending, is that we are spending twice as much as the OECD (as a share of GDP) and still the private sector is left with huge bills. And we have bad outcomes, graduating students without marketable skills and that do not match the needs of our economy. Again, here we should follow the European model rather than giving more subsidies to our system.
That means free higher education and free trade school, and this can be funded by slashing university budgets by 2/3 and diverting funds towards the establishment of trade schools, banning schools from charging anything to students if they accept government vouchers. Each voucher should be for 11K/year. Students must complete their degree in three years, and standards should be raised so only qualified students attend university rather than teaching remedial subjects in our expensive university system. Non-academic staff should be reduced from the current levels of 3 non-academic staff per academic staff to 3 academic staff per non-academic staff. That reduction in non-academic staff and reduction in required courses would allow for a massive slashing of university budgets, bringing them inline with what is spent in Europe. And we'd get smaller class sizes and free universal education to boot. None of that requires a dollar of extra spending beyond current levels.
But merely subsidizing a bad system now entrenches it and makes it harder to reform in the future. You have the same problem with healthcare.
> And please don't say the amount is too high. 3.5T is over 10 years,
It's not the amount, it's that it's all deficit spending and the actual programs are mostly harmful rather than helpful.
One problem with the left is they think it's always 1933. The only economic model in their mind is one where there is deflation and millions of unemployed with nothing to do, so they always call for a "New Deal". Well, we are in a tight labor market and an inflationary economy, so now is not the time to run expansionary fiscal policy. You would think this would be obvious, but alas it doesn't stop anyone from calling for projects that create "more jobs". Now if you want to reduce defense spending and increase spending on something else, we can discuss that. I'd like to reduce defense spending as well, but another 3.5 Trillion in stimulus is a terrible policy in the current economy, and the objects of this spending are the corrupt bureaucracies that need to be cut, not increased.
So yeah, it's really a terrible bill that takes us in the wrong direction. I'm OK with negotiating for cheaper drugs, and few other things, but the actual spending of money and most of the policies are just awful.
Now I understand that a lot of my proposals are also radical. But we need radical reform. And I also understand you can't get a radical bill passed when you have only a three seat majority in the house and a 50-50 Senate. It's insane to think you can. You won't be able to. So in this current stalement it's much better to pass no bill than to pass a bad stimulus bill in an overheated economy. At least passing no bill would avoid making things worse, which is what this bill does. The reason we do not have education or healthcare reform is because there are too many people employed in these industries who wield too much political power and are able to block reform. Therefore I oppose anything that increases employment in already bloated fields, as it makes the reform problem that much harder.
Look at [Marjorie Taylor Greene's fundraising](https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/marjorie-tay...)
All functioning democracies (which the USA is not) have such a framework in place. In Canada it's famously called the Notwithstanding Clause.
Well, maybe not all. We can keep the Third Amendment as a souvenir.
If you think this sounds familiar, you're right: New Zealand is practically an ideal model of how to form a modern, practical, democratic government that reasonably respects personal freedom and public safety and security. Their example should be followed elsewhere, especially in the USA.
When I hear people around me thinking it's a good thing when a judge rules in a way that nets the outcome they want, regardless of whether or not it was done so in accordance with the law, it hurts. Somehow, people fail to realize that rule of law is the single greatest defense against tyranny that we have. Short sighted pragmatism.
This purist view ignores the fact that not all laws are good. Many laws are in fact bad, and it’s important for them to be challenged.
As an example, many here would agree that the DMCA is a bad law. It’s a law that is generally only enforceable by wealthy players.
There are many bad laws on the books. Those laws do not get equally applied to everyone in society. The fact that we have bad laws, implies that applying them will lead to bad outcomes. This is partly why having an unbiased appellate court to review the laws and throw out the bad ones is so important. Sadly much of the appellate court has also become corrupted, but at least the system is there to ideally correct bad laws and allow for blind application of justice.
Also I think if every law was strictly enforced the functioning of society would stop. This tells something about the whole system. Some fixing is required.
This happens right here on HN. It seems that nobody here wants trials for Snowden or Assange for instance.
"Three Felonies a Day"
There's probably a lot of things that are formally legal but corrosive to society.
Plus the process of corruption is slow and creeping. A generation doesn't know whats it like growing up a generation or two before, so the current state of affairs is taken for granted. At some point, the idea of a high-trust society where people don't need to lock their doors and children can just roam the neighbourhood freely becomes a faint memory and unreal utopia. Starting a family in their twenties, the prospect of home ownership, and being able to do so on a single income has already become unimaginable.
To be fair, if all politicians were always morally rooted in the center of the law, nothing would ever change. No marijuana, no gay marriage.
Or more appropriate: There’s a certain overlap of laws (and constitutional rights) that blur the edge of law (here: pursuit of happiness for the judge’s vs. corruption of justice).
Could we have a Jury, once assembled, apply those same rules tot he rest of the Court? "Your Honor have you ever held ownership in the companies involved in this case? Ever been married or intimate with any of the parties in this case?"
Perhaps some of the conspiracy theorists talking about the undermining of the prosecutor and court systems since the 90's have been onto something.
Section 16 currently applies to officers, directors, and anyone who holds 10% of the stock of a company.
These people have to disclose all of their trades, and they are not allowed to make any profitable "short-swing" trades in the stock. A trade is a short-swing trade if it occurs within 6 months of a trade in the opposite direction.
Section 16 is brilliant in how it is enforced. It allows any shareholder to sue the short-swing trader. The plaintiff does not have to have been a shareholder at the time of the trade. They only have to be a shareholder at the time of the suit.
If the plaintiff wins the trader has to return all short-swing profits to the company and pay the plaintiff's attorney fees. Because the people covered by Section 16 have to report their trades, and because there isn't really a defense for short-swing trading, it is an open and shut case.
The data is available from the SEC in electronic form, and there are lawyers who get it and do automated checks to find short-swing trades. Then it is an easy matter for them to buy a share if they don't already have one, sue the short-swing trader, trivially win the open and shut case, and collect attorney fees.
If that wasn't enough to discourage insiders from short-swing trading, Section 16 provides more discouragement by being brutal in how it defines profit from a short-swing trade. Consider this sequence of trades by a Section 16 insider:
Jan 1: buy N shares at $100/share
Feb 1: sell N shares at $90/share
Mar 1: buy N shares at $80/share
Apr 1: sell N shares at $70/share
But Section 16 doesn't look at the overall results. It just looks it individual trades and tries to match them with individual trades going the other way within 6 months (before or after) and if the sell is higher than the buy that is short-swing profit.
Section 16 sees the above trades as a short-swing profit of $10 x N from the purchase on Mar 1 and the sale on Feb 1.
The net result then for the insider who made those ill conceived trades is that they lose $20/share on the trades themselves, and they end up having to pay an additional $10/share to the company, and pay the attorney fees of whoever managed to file first to sue them.
1. That's overly restrictive. Why not let them own individual stocks in, say, a blind trust?
2. It's a free country. It's up to the voters to decide if they want to elect someone who profits from their position. What is needed is a law requiring public disclosure, not prohibition.
3. If you force people to divest their portfolios before taking public office you will reduce the pool of people willing to serve.
This is not to say that I disagree with the policy position, only that it's not the slam-dunk you seem to think it is.
3. You would reduce the pool of people who have corrupt intent. Owning individual stocks isn't more profitable than owning ETFs.
If this were broadly adopted, companies would be forced to switch to all-cash offers, to create long-term incentive plans that don’t use something the legislation defines as shares, or just be content to exclude politically active people from being employees. Some might be happy with that last outcome.
Many publicly elected or appointed roles are part-time (school board/committee, city council, etc.) Even MA state legislators make only $70.5K/yr and MA is one of the highest-paying states for that job. Many of them maintain another full-time job.
* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28966192 (edit window is 2 hours)
2. Again, how is a normal person - say, a retail employee - ever going to find out about this? Even with public disclosure, all folks need to do to hide their doings is to make the language in the disclosure full of technical jargon instead of everyday language.
3. That's a bonus, not a feature. Maybe it'll encourage normal folks to take office more often - but of course, we'd have to do other changes to make that happen.
Dissuading the wealthy from seeking office sounds like a feature, not a bug to me.
Around 55% of Americans own stock.
If you aren't one of that "wealthiest 10%" it would not be difficult to divest your stock holdings in exchange for an index fund.
They are not blanket total bans in most cases, but single name stuff is often very restricted, broad market less so. Also does come with transparency requirements.
1. Too bad. There are plenty of other good investments out there.
2. Too bad. The removal of incentives to do slimy things like the ones that are subject of this article is the greater good here.
3. Too bad. Maybe those people who choose to serve will be those who aren't in it to fleece the system of every dollar they can.
I'm not sure you'd find my "counterarguments" any more persuasive than I find yours. I'm more interested in what the systemic consequences of such a policy would be, and, it seems to me that they tip in a direction that removes incentives to be corrupt, which sounds pretty darn good to me. I care a lot less about the effects on people who are currently in the position to exploit the system.
Better yet, it was because her husband success that she worked for 20 years for free for the party.
Something her husband did before she was speaker and he already had much success before.
He likes bank way more. .
The very basis of self government (citizens being in charge) is allowing people to run for office who are every day people. This idea would require anyone who is even a part owner af a tiny business to divest in order to run. Additionally, a lot of common small businesses have no real value if the owner doesn't come with the business (a solo law practice is an example)... oh, and trusts are corporations... so this idea sounds wonderful but is very exclusionary.
Insiders at companies have limited windows to trade. Makes more sense.
Arguing against that is easy.
The elite have so many better ways to profit from their positions that outlawing stock ownership is laughably naïve. Trading stocks against knowledge you obtained from your government position is an easy way to get busted, so you may assume the people caught up in this represent merely the profoundly stupid; the smart elites don't get nabbed in such simple minded schemes. Yes, there are very stupid federal judges; their appointments are a product a political haymaking that has their actual competence way down the list of priorities.
So the best reason I can think of to oppose your plan is simply that it's a futile waste of time. If you're serious about meaningful efforts to hinder corruption think in terms of transparency. Give the electorate the means to know who is bought and paid for by whom. Without that you're wasting your time.
Time is a pretty small consideration here.
One can and should apply many means to lessen corruption. Transparency is certainly important, but no means is going to cover all cases or be 100% effective. Reduce the possibility of conflict of interest and increase transparency.
The problem with transparency, if you're relying on democracy to do the rest, is that any sufficiently clever corruption scheme is simply not going to be understood by the public you're relying on to oppose it. If you give them an explanation in detail they mostly see simply that it's detailed. It looks no different from a conspiracy theory to most people, who will barely be following the issue anyway. Most voters are low information voters. The information they need is which party backs which position. They in effect vote as they're told, not because they're stupid but because none of this interests them.
I imagine this is already illegal? But isn't it harder to prove if done right?
Blind trusts seem to be quite a bit too permissive to me.
Offer them the performance of a stock index fund on their stock holdings, for the duration of their public mandate.
I don’t want my local Google employees to be prohibited from running for city council or school committee.
How does security fraud apply to this? Or is that why it happens? You can't point to a "shareholder loss" and all other stakeholders in the company, the legal system and society don't get enforcement when they are the victims of this kind of crime? The company can't be held responsible if a corrupt judge acts corruptly (or impersonates someone who is corrupt displaying a stupidity that should bar them from any position of responsibility), if that judge did not involve the company directly in that corruption.