An observation made by paleocons in the last century was that the political system had been purchased by the financial system. By that they did not mean bankers were handing bags of cash to specific politicians. That has been going on since both money and politics have existed. What they meant was that the financial system had started to overwhelm the political system. More specifically, the ethics of the emerging new financial system had overwhelmed the political system.
In the money game, every rule is seen as an obstacle to be circumvented, rather than a limit on activity. The only thing that matters is profit. No one in the world of finance has ever considered if their trade is ethical, outside of some areas where there are agreed upon rules or the state imposes rules. In these exceptional cases, it is not ethics that restrains the activity, but force. Banking has always been a Darwinian game where the strong eat the weak. Morality has no role.
Government, on the other hand, has to be a game of morality, in which the boundary between right and wrong is policed. That is the point of government. The starting place of every human organization is answering the question, “Who are we?” What flows from that is a set of rules to define the answer. Government is either granted the power to enforce the rules or the elites seize power in order to enforce the rules, depending upon your philosophical outlook. That is the point of the state.
What some of the paleos observed in the 1980’s is that the ethics of the financial class had overtaken the ethics of the government. Politicians were now thinking the same way a banker thinks when he sees a rule. The first and only thought is how can I get around this in order to profit? Of course, those who are good at solving the puzzle are rewarded, while those who are bad at it or refused to abide by the new ethics of government, are eliminated.
If you look at a graph of the Dow Jones from the start of the last century to the present, what you notice is a sharp tick up in the 1980’s. From WW2 into the early 80’s the graph is a smooth upward trend, reflecting the post-war expansion. Then all of a sudden, when the post-war expansion was clearly over, the graph turns sharply upward and has climbed to heights thought impossible. It also corresponds with the collapse in political ethics that started in the 1980’s.
Cynics will say this all sounds naïve as politicians have always been crooked, but that confuses the personal with the systemic. Men are not angels and every system, no matter how ethical, will have some unethical people in it. The reason we know politicians are crooks is we used to regularly arrest crooked politicians for taking bribes or running schemes. In other words, they fell afoul of the rules. Note that we no longer arrest politicians for financial corruption.
Those old enough to remember the before times know that the corruption surrounding the Biden family would have been disqualifying a generation ago. Taking any money from a foreign source was going to be a problem. Today, it is rare to find a pol in either party who is not paid by foreigners. One member of the House intelligence committee was sleeping with a Chinese spy. The normalization of bribery over the last generation is well outside the norms of traditional politics.
This is what those paleos were talking about in the 1980’s. Here is a good example of this from Pedro Gonzales in Chronicles. He got access to a Telegram channel where a payola scheme was openly discussed. There was a time within living memory when this would have been devastating. Careers would have been ruined. Today everyone inside the political system shrugs, because everyone is on the take. Pens for hire are so common that no one thinks it is odd.
This is why National Review, for example, created the National Review Institute, a not-for-profit that operates National Review. The not-for-profit does not have to disclose its donors, so no one knows who is calling the tune. That money is used to pay for content, often supplied by allies of the donor as guest content. There are shops all over now that hire writers to produce white box content for interest groups, who then sell it to these sites for the benefit of their donors.
This is not an accident. Just about every mainstream media outlet aligned with the two parties sits around thinking about how to do this. They know it would not sit well with the public, which is why they setup the not-for-profit entity. Like the bankers who hide their grifts in mountains of regulation, the political press hides their corruption in the tax code, fund raisers and phony book deals. Like the bankers, they look at the rubes on Main Street as suckers to be played.
Of course, if you want a career as a pundit, you better figure out quickly that the game is to make the donors happy. Since those donors are in one way or another aligned with finance or technology, the issues are simple. The reason National Review will never have a discouraging word to say about tech censorship is they rely on tech money to keep themselves in the lifestyle they believe they deserve. Whether they believe it or not, everyone involved is a pen for hire now.
Again, this is not about some people being corrupt. This is a about a revolution in the ethics of the vast political system itself. Forty years ago, people across the political spectrum operated from the assumption that the goal of public policy was good government, which they defined in utilitarian terms. Good government was the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. No one talks like this now, because no one thinks like this anymore. Everyone thinks like a banker.
The irony here is that the last forty years have been a great test of the libertarian claims about the nature of man and society. America has been transformed into a pirate’s cove where the only limit on your profit is your conscience. The one thing everyone agrees upon is that this system is horrible. Soon the other thing everyone will agree upon is that we need a strong hand to reimpose order. Right now, the left-authoritarians have the advantage, but the right-authoritarians have the numbers.
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