Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security
a book by Janine R. Wedel
(our site's book review)
Janine Wedel is the author of Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market. Wedel has written for the New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, The Nation, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Politico, and Salon, among others. She is a professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and has been a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation.
Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security is a groundbreaking book that challenges U.S. citizens to wake up and sound the alarm about how a new and more sophisticated style of corruption and private interests have infiltrated every level of society.
Democracy in the USA is degenerating rapidly, but perhaps the shock of books like Wedel's will be the wake-up call we need to see that new and more sophisticated styles of corruption and private interests have infiltrated every level of society. See Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market to learn how neocons undermine the USA.
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged. A new and more sophisticated style of corruption and private interests have infiltrated every level of society.
Letting neocons run the decisions in Washington is like letting a fox guard a henhouse
From the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, however divergent their political views, these groups seem united by one thing: outrage over a system of power and influence that they feel has stolen their livelihoods and liberties. Increasingly, protesters on both ends of the political spectrum and the media are using the word “corrupt” to describe an elusory system of power that has shed any accountability to those it was meant to help and govern. There is little reason to believe that the protests impacted the perpetrators of this democracy-killing de facto coup d'état, who, instead of being wracked with guilt, were wracked with laughter.
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
"You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters"
But what does corruption and unaccountability mean in today’s world? It is far more toxic and deeply rooted than bribery. Advisors, strategists and other private contractors, which make up an ever-increasing share of the government, act in the best interests of their company, versus the best interests of the taxpayer, immediately prompting one to ask the question: "so if that is so, who IS minding the store?"
The mainstream press mostly just prints administration press releases; the actual investigative journalism going on died in the 1980s as the shadow government insisted on the press conforming to the party line
Foreign governments with a history of human rights violations, military coups, and more, hire American public relation firms to suppress reports and search results for their crimes. Investigative journalism has been replaced by "truthiness." From Super PACs pouring secret money into our election system, to companies buying better ratings from Standard & Poors, or the extreme influence of lobbyists in Congress, all embody a “new corruption” and none hold themselves accountable to our society’s supposed watchdogs, which sit idly by alongside the same groups that have the government, business and much of the military in their pockets.
The game is rigged—companies buy better ratings from Standard & Poors
Stephen Colbert tells us that 'Truthiness is a word I pulled right out of my keister'; happily the bulk of his material doesn't originate there, or his shows—recently The Late Show—would be pretty crappy
A reviewer has this to say: “Of huge value. Wedel has reinvented the study of public administration for an era of blurred roles and secret networks. A must-read for the age of flexians and truthiness.”—James K. Galbraith, author of The Predator State
What do government workers do? Party! —this drunken party of greed gone mad is NOT the plan our founders envisioned!
Our think tanks are now organizations for pushing private agendas—or shadow government's neocon agendas
Wedel advises us to be sceptical of pundits and always check "where the money comes from"—see who's behind the opinion. Exercise critical thinking. Happily, there are experts on talk shows that know their stuff and are honestly trying to teach the viewers things of importance, even if they do—wisely—put in plugs for their books during the show. It's called capitalism. Sometimes corruption is simply not in the picture. Unhappily, however, it often is in the picture.
Many issues in both the 20th and 21st centuries have been usurped by special interests—in other words, to find the answer, follow the money
If we take advantage of our corrupt government system's vulnerabilities to exploit the system, it becomes a lousy system of government that exacerbates wealth inequality and the canyon between rich and poor
It is depressing to read about the large amount of influential "players" who effectively game the system to the advantage of their high-paying clients, thereby undermining fragile democratic institutions. Democracy is delicate. If we take advantage of its vulnerabilities to exploit it, it becomes a lousy system of government that exacerbates wealth inequality and the canyon between rich and poor. Players' behavior is typically legal, making it next to impossible to hold them to account for their actions and shadow actions. Her book offers a real-world look at how the system is routinely manipulated and how the public pays the price.
Wedel advises us to be sceptical of pundits and always check 'where the money comes from'
Wedel asks us "How can we know whom to trust, when 'experts' besiege the Internet and airways, pronouncing on crucial public-policy issues and presenting themselves as impartial and objective, all the while concealing that they actually have a dog in the fight? In short, how can we have any modicum of trust in public institutions that seem to be so accountability-challenged? . . . Today I am not surprised that people are outraged. Privacy virtually everywhere is under siege, whether by faceless spymasters at the U.S. National Security Agency, through the likes of Google and Facebook, or by government and corporations in concert. Outrage at government and public institutions on nearly every continent, especially since the global financial crisis of 2008, reflects the public’s frustration." (Source: They won, we lost: How corruption became America’s national pastime, Salon, Janine Wedel)
Neocon nutjobs tell us that dumping our Bill of Rights and our Constitution was a prerequisite for our safety, which no intelligent citizen could possibly buy
Privacy virtually everywhere is under siege, whether by faceless spymasters at the U.S. National Security Agency or through the likes of Google and Facebook
Once they create the technology, can the thought police be far behind NSA's outrage of spying on us decent citizens?
Wedel says that people no longer trust the institutions of our society. And when they don’t trust formal institutions, they look to private ones, like friends or family. So we end up on Facebook hearing about things from friends we think we can trust, since they have no hidden profit agenda, while pundits on talk shows are not giving us the straight truth. They are giving us truthiness. Ideas they want to be right or that come from gut feelings. It's a word for something that seems like truth—the truth we want to exist. Listening to these "experts" is not how we get informed or learn things. It's how we get dumbed down into believing all the propaganda coming our way from agenda-pushing know-it-alls, and believing that the conventional wisdom is actually wisdom, of all things. It's how we get conditioned into becoming "consumer suckers." It's how we end up supporting the status quo against our own interests.
A-list public relations firms are slanting opinions via dirty tricks. One firm employs “all sorts of dark arts”—their words—on the Internet. They indulge in editing Wikipedia entries deemed damaging. They set up third-party blogs that also appear independent. They practice gaming search results to ensure that positive content outweighs negative content. Such efforts sway public perceptions and mold policies and yet they are virtually invisible even to a trained observer.
A-list public relations firms are slanting opinions via dirty tricks. One firm employs “all sorts of dark arts”—their words—on the Internet, practicing the dark art of gaming search results
Wedel contends that the “think-tank-industry-government-media nexus” in the United States has become so complex and non-transparent that ensuring accountability for non-ethical behavior has now become almost impossible. This is an important development which poses a grave threat to public trust, a key ingredient both for implementing needed public policies and for the sustenance of democracy itself.
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