Transcript

Back in the first Gilded Age following the Civil War, with its huge concentration of wealth at the top and abject misery at the bottom, Boies Penrose was a United States Senator from Pennsylvania bought and paid for by the railroad tycoons and oil barons.

They could count on him to deliver the goods. “I believe in the division of labor,” he told his wealthy paymasters. “You send us to Congress; we pass laws under which you make money…and out of your profits you further contribute to our campaign fund to send us back again to pass more laws to enable you to make more money.”

Boies Penrose would be right at home in politics today. Crony capitalism – using government to deliver favors to your pals in the business world — is alive and well. The rest of us pay for it. We pay for it at the grocery store because of sweetheart deals in Congress for the dairy industry and sugar lobby. We pay for it at drug store because politicians rented by giant pharmaceutical firms block competition. We pay for it in lowered returns on pension plans bailed out banks speculate with taxpayer money. We pay with the loss of jobs because of trade deals bought and paid for by multinational companies. We pay in tax rates higher than those of the billionaires who fund the SuperPacs. And we pay in the loss of political equality, because one person, one vote means very little when those we elect do the bidding of donors instead of voters.

We’re deep now into what will be the most expensive election in our history, much of it funded by crony capitalists. So let’s hear from two people who have closely watched how cozy ties between Wall Street and Washington are perverting capitalism and subverting democracy. First, David Stockman.

In the 1970s, he was a young Republican congressman from Michigan and an early proponent of supply-side economics — some call it trickle down.

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