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Smedley Butler On March - 15 - 2011

Why is politics so mind bogglingly complicated?

You often hear conversation  about the host of complex problems we face today and that these issues cannot be reduced to bumper sticker slogans and addressed by simplistic solutions. I say simple clear, concise ideas are powerful and the problems we face are not really all that complex.

I’d like to cover a couple of topics on this issue in a two part series first: “Why is politics so mind bogglingly complicated?”  If that’s not enough to get you to sleep in a non narcotic and habit forming way I’d like to share some thoughts on the nature of complexity itself and how it relates to political systems, governing and representation in part two of the series.

So why does politics seem so complex that most often see no real cause and effect relationship? Have you ever watched a TV talking head or politician make a lengthy response to a question then said to yourself “How the hell did that relate to anything about the question”? How about when you’re told that “people should read the bill” by various pundits so you follow their advice and find that the bill is 4278 pages of legalese in 6 point font?

The reason for this can be summed up to a bumper sticker sized phrase “Baffling you with Bullshit.” Banksters, unsavory politicians, crooks and hucksters of all stripes especially those in white collars tool of the trade is bullshit and this is how they use it.

These folks create as many layers of complexity as they deem needed to render the subject incomprehensible to the majority of victims. Often they need not fool all the people just most. They create such a Machiavellian tangle that no one aside from a small handful of insiders understands what’s really gong on.

To facilitate this confusion they have gone as far as to create special languages; Legalese, Financial-speak and Politi-speak. To understand and be fluent in these languages often requires months to years of study and frequently seems the rough equivalent of interpreting Bible passages.

They use these tools to scam people by setting themselves up as “experts” since they are the only ones who understand the intricate convolutions of the scam and speak the special language they obviously are the only ones qualified to make decisions. This is why Goldman Sach’s always has executives coming and going to from the SEC who regulate them. They’re “experts”

The financial sector is rife with needless complexity that facilitates criminal behavior. Let me give you an example of how a simplistic solution works by answering one of the most complex and technically challenging questions of today in one sentence.

Q: How do we limit and contain the damage done to our economy by the trading of complex financial instruments like derivatives?

Now this is tough as no one save a small handful of insiders seems to clearly understand the market machinations and function of derivatives and the intricacies of the derivative market but I’ll give it my best shot.

A: Roll back laws and regulations to the point just before derivatives were permitted.

I can say with pretty near 100% certainty that if this is done from that point forward you may have many problems but the havoc caused by derivative trading won’t be one of them again. If anyone cares to challenge this point feel free. I’m guessing I’m not the first to think of this perhaps you have too. How does it feel to be an economic genius?

So why don’t we just do that? It makes perfect sense;  it costs nothing, removes a lot of law and regulation and stops a huge scam dead in its tracks. What in the world could prevent such a common sense solution from happening? Bullshit does.

The bullshit here comes in the form of a two-word phrase from the politi-speak dictionary “political reality” A mass of needless complexity, described in a special dialect presented in a cryptic fashion isn’t enough and it only gets better. We get an extra reality! The regular reality isn’t vast and complex enough to contain this special knowledge. Experts of the punditry tell us we need another “Political Reality” were the laws of this more tangible and mundane reality don’t apply. Just think of it as a spare bedroom in the Twilight Zone.

How many times have you seen a good idea dismissed out of hand as “beyond political reality.” The idea’ seems  real and do-able in this reality and it makes sense in this reality but when you step through the Stargate into political reality cats chase dogs and whales speak French under the sea. But this can change.

What do paper currency, the Mormon Church, Conservapedia and Political Reality all have in common? All are based on faith; their value and existence depend on belief. The more who believe in them the more pronounced their existence and value becomes. This works the other way around as well lack of faith diminishes or destroys things of this nature. A term often used to describe a group who has ceased to believe in Political Reality is “an angry mob”.

If doing anything about the issues above seem to be impossible in Political Reality here’s what you can do in this reality without being felt up by the TSA agent at the Stargate to Political Reality.

Always explore the simplest solution first, the simplest solution is virtually always the best easiest and most efficient. This concept is universal and can and has been applied to every problem of every kind since time began.  Reject con men who tell you that the million-dollar mouse trap with over twelve hundred moving parts and radar imaging capabilities is not only the best but the only way to catch a mouse.

Demand that issues be discussed in plain language I’m not talking about reducing the conversational level to burps, farts and growls. I’m talking about speaking clearly concisely and on point using commonly understood language to explain concepts conditions, legislation and proposals instead of legal and technical jargon.

You can also help ease confusion by trying to avoid speaking in these terms as much as possible yourself. Speak as you normally do about anything else on these issues. You would not allow a gang of thieves to dictate what you say, don’t let them control how you say it either.

Lastly try to stop believing in “Political Reality” at least this one may be toughest as beliefs are often deep rooted but your belief allows it existence and influence in our reality I’m not suggesting you remove the phrase from your lexicon just change your level of acceptance to “junk mail” when it’s used to describe a place where the laws of our reality don’t apply and positive change for those outside of a small elite isn’t possible.  Reality is a Racket.


(short link: http://planetpov.com/?p=22310)

Written by Smedley Butler

I wasn't always Smedley Butler and frankly quiet surprised to discover my true identify after reading an interview with JZ Knight (Who "channels" Ramatha the spirit warrior.) and getting in touch with the "inner" Smedley. I haven't changed much over the years since the great depression and still believe it's my calling to support the causes of truth and justice by informing the public. I'm well qualified to write on almost any subject and provide documentation to this effect via virtually any Photoshop-able Diploma. Please feel to contact me with any story you have to tell, axe to grind or offer of employment in return for cash or trade*. *Discount meal coupons may be acceptable as trade depending on how hungry I am.

57 Responses so far.

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  1. ADONAI says:

    Isn’t politics needlessly complicated because it’s the invention of an incredibly stupid animal?

    • bito says:


      incredibly stupid animal?

      or incredibly complicated animal?

    • Abbyrose86 says:

      I tend to think that as a WHOLE, humans beings kinda suck.

      I get a tad bit annoyed with some of the traits of our species.

    • PocketWatch says:

      ADONAI -- maybe, but I will submit this… complications arise from the “what if” questions.

      As a village, we say “Killing someone is illegal.” Ok, says the smartass in the back, but, what if I am defending myself?

      Ok, then self defense is ok. Then another smartass asks, what if someone just punches a guy in the nose, and the guy then kills the puncher? THAT can’t be right!

      Ok, then, we have to make some sort of “equal force” provision…

      And so on…

      Smart, dumb, overthink… hard to say.

      • PW, those that enjoy the “slippery slope” arguments also seem to think it is “innovative” to attach a rocket engine to the vehicle and coat the slope with frictionless lubricant.

        I say, let them build it, let them test it, then decommission it and recycle the materials for something useful.

      • ADONAI says:

        PW, The fact we kill each other at all makes us one of the stupidest animals on Earth. No matter how we reason it.

        • PocketWatch says:

          ADONAI -- I don’t know about that… I think that the gene pool needs a good vacuuming, frankly. Sociopaths are being selected FOR right now, rather than against. Not good.

          • jkkFL says:

            @PW- Just a vacuuming??

            • PocketWatch says:

              jkk -- some chlorine, disinfectant, and fungicide would probably be needed as well.

          • ADONAI says:

            PW, I hear ya. Self defense is totally justified but it’s usually against some prick who has no business trying to kill you in the first place. We kill for dumb shit. And it’s not all sociopaths and psychopaths.

            We kill to eat like other animals. We sometimes kill to defend ourselves like other animals. But most aren’t defending themselves from their own species.

            But this is dancing way off topic. I just think we’re dumb animals and we invent needlessly complex systems to hide it.

            • SequimBob2 says:

              Politics is a tool of self interest. Notice that we are not involved in stopping the genocide in Darfur. But we are engaging right-off-the-bat in Libya. Why? (Didn’t John Boehner say we were broke?)

              There are SO many issues that the President has remained silent on, but he chose to really get tough with Libya. Why?

              Find the self interest angle or follow the money and the answer will probably be revealed.

          • Abbyrose86 says:

            Hi PW…no doubt. It seems we are pandering to the worst of human beings and the worst of human traits rather than our better ones. {sigh}

            • PocketWatch says:

              Abby -- the key to human success as a species is cooperation, not the ‘rugged individualist’ that sociopaths seem to think is the ideal.

              In Paleolithic times, to be alone was to die. Quickly.

              Somehow, we have to get back to village ideals. Literally.

  2. PocketWatch says:

    I’m going to weigh in on this briefly…

    I used to be a military instructor… trained by the US Army in 6 short weeks in how to properly train people in a classroom and laboratory environment. I taught advanced electronics… Boolean algebra, basic and advanced electronics, how transistors and such work, how to troubleshoot complicated pieces of equipment, and so forth.

    One of the core pieces of training was the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)principle. Part of that principle is to avoid jargon at all costs. When confronted with jargon, most people have one of two reactions. They either nod wisely while having absolutely no idea what you are talking about, or they simply blank out. Both are bad. Maybe one in 50 will stop you and demand an explanation. Emotionally, all will look at you and start to literally hate you for trying to make them look stupid.

    That was reinforced in my first job in the ‘real world,’ as a service engineer for a computer company. Did that job for 14 years, and that company also was heavily invested in training its guys on the road. And they, too, said the same thing.

    As anyone that has read my business series can vouch for, I avoid jargon and obfuscation. That is why.

    How does that apply to the article above? Easy. Any time I see (and I advise the same for all) jargon or a mountain of words “explaining” what should be a simple problem, my bullshit detector goes off in a deafening klaxon, and fireworks start exploding all over the sky. Someone is either trying to hide something, scamming you, or has no idea what they are talking about (or all three).

    I realize that technical things like legal issues and engineering problems require precision in language and detail, but all that can and should be reduced to plain and ordinary understandable language. If someone says that is impossible, they are either intellectually lazy or are invested in keeping you confused.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      “Any time I see (and I advise the same for all) jargon or a mountain of words “explaining” what should be a simple problem, my bullshit detector goes off in a deafening klaxon, and fireworks start exploding all over the sky. Someone is either trying to hide something, scamming you, or has no idea what they are talking about (or all three).”

      I’ve often thought the same thing myself. Here’s what puzzles me.

      If the refrigerator repairman starts telling someone that their flappinator is bad and and needs to be replaced and their codwanker valve is restricting the juniper juice flow so the repair will cost $550 The Bullshit-meter swings into the red-zone.

      We know the meter works because of this. But when the same guy watches a pundit or politician on TV he nods as you describe and walks away feeling they know something he doesn’t and are right even thought he doesn’t understand what they are talking about. That’s odd in itself but it gets stranger.

      If a kid from an advocacy group knocks on the guys door and tells him the same thing using the same words the guys BS alarm rings so loud it scares the cat.

      Why does the suit, stage and the fact the politician is on TV cause the BS alerts to fail and remain silent in many instances? And why does it fail even when the viewer knows that the presenter is a paid shill as in: “I’m not a real doctor but I play one on TV”?

      • SequimBob2 says:

        SB: Guy goes into a computer store to buy a computer. He knows the RAM, the processor speed, size of the hard drive, number of USB ports, whether it is a dual core or quad core processor. For this relatively small investment, he will invest hours shopping, analyzing, studying, etc.

        Same guy hears Sarah Palin spout her nonsense about Death Panels and the guy goes all in. Tell him that Obama is not a US citizen, but rather he’s a Mau Mau from Kenya and the guy says, “Yup!” Tell him that the real problem in this country is (pick one): Unions… teachers… Democrats… spending … lazy people on welfare… or hard working illegals from Mexico, and he buys the whole package.

        The part of the brain that makes this guy a smart consumer appears to completely disengage when he’s ‘buying’ political arguments. Why is this?

      • PocketWatch says:

        Smed (if I may call you that… LOL) -- It’s simple conditioning. Use big and unfamiliar words, and you, too, can be an ‘expert.’ And people will hate you, but will somehow believe that you probably know what you are doing/saying. Doctors, lawyers, IT people, they all trade on this.

        Doctors are my favorite.. all the Latin or pseudoLatinate names for things we all know about… contusions, abrasions, lesions, you name it… all to make themselves a club or mystical somehow, and we all fall for it.

        I used to have to test security systems for secret installations. You know how I got in almost every single time? Wore a white hard hat and carried a clipboard and a briefcase, and looked like I was supposed to be there, was busy, and important. I got into one installation using Marine guards using that ploy and a fake ID card that had a KoolAid package front with Bugs Bunny on it. The reason? It was the exact same color lime green as the passes they were using.

        People see and hear what they want to hear and what makes them most comfortable.

        • Smedley Butler says:

          I agree concerning conditioning.

          Most people bristle at the thought that they have been conditioned or indoctrinated. I accept that I have been because I believe that helps mitigate it’s effects.

          BTW, You can call me Smed or you can call me Fred. You can call me Eddy or you can call me Teddy. Just don’tcha call me Johnson! :)

        • Abbyrose86 says:

          PW, you do make a good point about conditioning and how people perceive others.

          A friend of mine asked me once, how I managed to move up the ladder as I had, and I told her…”typecasting”.

          The way people look, act, dress and present themselves is very often MORE important than what they actually KNOW. IF a person actually KNOWS quite a bit and CAN present themselves appropriately for that position, that person has a huge advantage.

    • foodchain says:

      Hi PW. You had me at hello back in the HP days (when they weren’t recruiting trolls)

      • PocketWatch says:

        Hi foodchain…

        Glad to have you aboard. While I don’t quite share the hostility that some here have towards HP {spit!} since I always EXPECT to get screwed over by corporatists, I do have an extreme appreciation for a site like PPOV that actually allows any member to write articles and express views unabashedly.

        It can be fun and intimidating, all at the same time, since if you are factually incorrect or cannot support your stance, there will be someone here that will surely challenge your assumptions. I like that. Reminds me of our dinner table when I was growing up!

        • foodchain says:

          I’m going slow for just that reason; families forgive and I’m not the most “quantitative” person. 😉

          • PocketWatch says:

            foodchain -- the good news is, if you are sincere, people will treat you well here. Might get a little beaten up, but politely and with equal sincerity, and that’s all we can ask, isn’t it?

            Don’t be shy. All voices NEED to be heard. Everyone has something to offer.

    • Truth says:

      PW, where are you hiding those days? I miss your wise words! And did you see how nicely the poll that you left us with got turned around, the last time I checked it was something like 55 anti-Walker!

  3. whatsthatsound says:

    How Mousetraps Get Built -- courtesy Thom Hartmann

    • Smedley Butler says:

      This is an excellent and true explanation and example of how a small negative change evolved over time to create huge unwanted consequences for the country and perhaps the world.

      Have you ever read Connections by James Burke or seen the Connections series? If not I highly recommend either of both. Burke shows how small changes and individual ideas can have often global consequences in an enlightening and entertaining manner.

      Here’s a link to a documentary film site that has the whole series collected so you can watch them all and other interesting documentary’s online for free.


  4. choicelady says:

    LOL!!! If you want to discuss messaging, read George Lakoff. He utterly agrees with you Smedley. GOP -- “death panels!” Dems -- 44 page position papers with footnotes.

    Most issues CAN be reduced to value statements and catchy slogans. “Cut from the Top, not Mom and Pop” is spot on. Says it all.

    However, you have established a straw man. You posit that saying to you, as I have, that you should READ the bills you pillory or like, is an exercise in futility shows -- you’ve never read a bill in your life.

    Go to thomas.loc.gov. Put in some bill number or key word. You will find all bills in PDF have about 200 words per page, are triple spaced for “mark up” and are fairly easy to comprehend.

    Don’t get it still? Find a variety of sources maintained by people who HAVE read the bill and compare issues. If you go only to web sites of like minded people who also have not read the bill, well you will confirm your prejudices, but you won’t learn a damned thing. The Center for Budget & Policy Priorities. Families USA. CA Budget Project. Center for America Progress. Progressive States Newtwork. The Urban Institute. On and on and on. The only “test” you need is that someone there HAS READ THE BILL.

    Sure there are bills deliberately meant to obfuscate. Most don’t. Sure there are complexities. I totally agree with you that if you want to end deriviatives, you go back BEFORE they were legal -- assuming, of course, that is even an issue. Maybe no one DID authorize them, they just grew. But let’s say there was enabling legislation -- you end it. Fine. Now what do you do with the people, the firms, and YOUR money that is tied up worldwide in that instrument of exchange and investment? Outlaw it and they will leave? Oh? And go where? What have you controlled for and what have you overlooked. Do you even know what derivatives ARE? Is there something WORSE someone can direct all our pension funds and savings money into? Sure there is. CAn you find it before we have another problem? You might want to know that before you “help” us all out here.

    The problem with politics is that you CAN have clear messages -- but that is a far cry from simplistic answers. It takes a very open mind and a heap of reading and conversation to make good policies. What we take as “best practices” may or may not answer real needs. Depends on to whom you’ve spoken. It often behooves us to listen to “the other side” to take in where their values are, what their desires are, what their goals are, and what they freaking CONTROL. Just so we know who’s got what and what the impacts of change will be.

    Once upon a time I rushed to help a fellow student who had been arrested in Mississippi doing civil rights work. I organized the entire campus of my school to send telegrams to the sheriff demanding his release. Fine and dandy. Except -- the sheriff was fixing to take the kid out an lynch him because of my work. So we called back the telegrams as fast as we could.

    Later that night the “leaders” of the campus called a campus meeting to denounce their “fascist” tactics.The entire campus got whipped up and insisted on sending the telegrams -- nobody was going to stop THEM for exercising their rights!!! When I asked the ringleader what if something DID happen to the kid in jail, he told me, it did not matter. It was MORE important that we, the safe, on-campus students, kept our free speech rights and not let the fascist administration tell us what to do.

    Except the administration had NOT done that. I had. In concern for the student in jail which, to this day, seems the greater good.

    So I’ve kind of learned to listen carefully to who says what, who has a motive NOT to be honorable, and who has a motive TO be. Even my allies sometimes have motives not so transparent. Not so honorable. Judgment is always a crap shoot, but your values? Those should be pretty solid. And once you know WHY you do or do not want to achieve something, and then you’ve done your due diligence on getting information, well, then you’re on pretty firm ground. Then it’s NOT confusing at all.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      Gee Gollegers you got me! I never did read on one o them thar “Bill” things.

      But one time when me and the fellers were on break at the hog renderin plant I seen this cartoon where a turtle in a stove pipe hat had this big old square block of paper that looked sorta like a book that said “BILL” in one hand and another one that said “CONSTIPATION PROCREATION” I’m not to sure really but that’s close enough.

      Anyhow that turtle sure was a tricky one. This crazy squirrel in a Confederate cap and no pants kept tryin to shoot that turtle with a shot gun every time he stepped over this Mason Dixon line. Even I’m smart enuff to know that what their talking about was a pencil line drawn by a bricklayer cause he’s what ya,ll call a Mason and my Pencils all says Dixon.

      Well to get along now, one time that tricky turtle hid out in a holler tree then whomped that no pants rebel Squirrle with the BILL! Hee Hee You shoulda seen them fireworks and stars fly outer that squirrels head then little birdie’s flew round it. Hang on. That there turtle was so funny I’m squirtin Budweiser out my nose on ma new wife beater.

      OK I’m better now. I figure from the way that nutty squirrels head shot out them colored stars and them birdies where a twirlin that that Bill thing had to be at least as big as the Sears Catalog.. Lot’s of other folks said they seen them BILL things was real big too sometimes they even stack em up like bibles after church. Elma from the laundry mat said sometimes they roll em on carts. But I don’t believe that any dam fool knows a wheelbarrow is better and everybody knows Elma’s a little “touched”.

      Now that makes me think the BILL was pretty big but I got proof their confusin too. See some of the guys down at the renderin plant are moonlighting as pundits and analyzers to make a few extra bucks for the tractor pull. (Lester and I got in a little scuffle when I called him an Anal-eyesore, but that’s done with now).

      These guys are real smart. Jeb built a keg cooler out of a trashcan and an air conditioner that fits in the trunk of his Oldsmobile. There’s a beer tap right under the radio so you can talk on the phone, eat a sausage McMuffin, drink a beer and listen to Conway Twitty on the way to work…The guys a genius

      These guys rake the dough in a do-in that. They all got new outboards and the sky’s the limit. I figured there was lot’s of guys working at that reading and figurin out stuff. But Jeb says that it don’t matter if there’s lot’s and lot’s of pundits and analysts they still take days weeks and sometimes months to figure out these BIll things so there’ll never be a shortage of work like there is at the lard plant since hippies invented salads.

      So that’s what I based my entire opinion on, A cartoon and the collective wisdom of lard ladler’s. How’d you figure that out after readin one sentence Karnak?

      • choicelady says:


        I apologize if I appeared to be belittling you when I was sympathizing with your over the top comment about bills. But if that’s your reductio ad aburdum, then, well, to quote Gilda Radner -- never mind.

        • Smedley Butler says:

          I should have made that longer so I’ll fix that here No apology is needed but it’s cool that you offer one. I’m sure your as strong in your convictions I am in mine.

          Maybe we should work together to try and find the places where we have common ground so we can go there and share a cool drink with a tiny umbrella when clawing in the mud over things we don’t tires us both out.

          I can be very combative and have a short fuse at times. I know this and work at changing it, sometimes I fall down but I’m always willing to get back on the horse and ride until it throws me again.

          Don’t take a lot of offense at sarcasm from me. Everyone’s style is different and I understand I can be a little “different’. I also like to tease at times.

          BTW Did I mention that Jeb asked me to tell you he’s a free man now that he divorced his cousin and that he has a complete Elvis on Velvet collection in his trailer? :)

          I beleive we are both trying to navigate towards the same clearing in the woods and that we just differ on which path to take. But let’s walk together for a while where we can.

          Ty for writing that CL.

          • choicelady says:

            We already have common ground, but because of our work, different approaches. My job for my members is to clarify the issues. I do believe people who advocate for something need to find how to do that. So I’m used to providing the short cuts and reliable resources so that we’re not advocating for the wrong things. When people say boycott all Koch products, it’s important to know their employees are part of the Steelworkers who really do NOT want that to happen -- it give the Kochs justification to call the sales reduction a reason to bust the union or at least lay off people. So -- helping people cut through the simple message to the background is what I try to do.

            And I do know how to read bills. And I do insist that advocacy around a bill be reflective of what’s IN it rather than what one presupposes is in it. Otherwise we’re like detective who incarcerate the wrong person -- the real culprits run free. Hate it if you like, but for the policy, not the phantom. Otherwise we’re fighting among ourselves rather than unifying to get the REAL culprits rounded up and hog tied.

            That’s all.

            • Smedley Butler says:

              I am 100% in agreement.

              I’m guessing you work for an umbrella advocacy group like Common Cause.

              You’re spot on about the need to for volunteers to present issues in a factual manner.

              If even a single one misrepresents the issue even though well intentioned or ill informed it leaves teh possibility wide open that they will be O’Keefed” and not only damage support for the issue but destroy the credibility of the entire organization.

              I think one of the biggest challenges for your or any similar organization is it’s difficult to explain exactly how an issue will effect them not because you fail to explain it accurately but because an astounding number of people don’t understand the basic way government works at the fundamental level.

              Without the framework of knowledge to hang your presentation on it’s a little lie trying to explain Non Euclidean Geometry to someone who lacks an understanding of division and multiplication.

              It can be done but it takes much more time and effort than it should reducing your effectiveness.

              I blame a lot of that on the lack of civics education K-12 and think it’s an important issue as it relates to about all other issues.

            • audadvnc says:

              Looks like
              we’re kinda
              being squeezed
              out in this
              column --
              can’t hardly

        • Smedley Butler says:

          You know I’m a delicate flower :)

  5. foxisms says:

    I have to question what sort of incentives there may be for the legislators, speculators in the derivatives market, CEOs of the world’s largest banks…and well, in general every heartless person who has warped our system in order to have it serve them to the growing exclusion of all other things domestic as opposed to them serving the system?
    Legislators and politicians of either party still win elections and re-election whether or not they have had a part in the scams eroding the economy (in fact or otherwise)…the CEOs and international banking still make huge profits due in large part to the erosion of the economy(in fact or otherwise) and asking any of these people to refrain from lining their pockets at the expense of the American people hasn’t worked at all or there would have been marked improvement in our economy and treasury without the occasional military intervention every 10-20 years to keep us afloat.
    Please don’t misread my comment. I’m not raising an argument against anything in your article. Anyone who has spent the time to outline their well thought observations on a subject as large as this should be commended for their contribution to the discussion taking place on the ongoing blight of our times and our country…And I thank you for doing so.
    I just can’t see the incentives for the people causing our dilemma or profiting from it, to have a change of conscience or alter from the course they’ve taken so long (nearly 100 years) to make successful for themselves.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      I advocate the carrot and stick approach, whack them with the stick. If that fails to work beat the hell out of them with the carrot.

      I don’t think greedy folks at the top at least not as a general rule. They will only back down under threat of prosecution. And the threat must be enforced with penalty when the rules are broken.

      Threat of consequence under the law is part of what makes society livable.To do this in the case of corporate criminals today requires the same basic steps that most problem solving does.

      Identify problems and solutions, stratagize implementation then make needed changes. These broad steps are broken into smaller sub steps as far as they need be to be practicable. It’s fairly important not to skip steps, often this makes things go South, If it does back up to where it went bad and step from there.

      The folks we are talking about are a very tiny parasitic minority they can be brought in check. Most of their power derives from our perception of their authority when that changes from “powerful, awe inspiring, invincible authority” to “guy like the rest of us that’s a crook” things can and do change. That dynamic drives events in Wisconsin, Egypt, Libya and worldwide today.

      • foxisms says:

        I agree with pretty much most of that, Smedley.
        The problem however doesn’t exist in the logic, the ideals or the intent, however. It historically presents itself in ongoing practices.
        Given that the very same people who benefit from the current state of affairs are either funding those who would or would not advocate prosecution…or are active members on the committees, panels and boards who need to move that action forward, I don’t see what would provide the incentive for any of them to do anything other than what they have shown us to be, their particular brand of ‘business as usual’.
        While I applaud the ideals, I can’t fathom what would change the current rules the game is being played under.

        • jkkFL says:

          fox- ditto! Until Someone is willing to stand up and say No More- it’s not going to end- SCOTUS has screwed us, DC is for sale for one more term- and GOP governors are gutting state treasuries, setting up little fiefdoms and nobody seems to care except the people whose heads are getting stomped on..
          WHO has the power- and when will they use it???

  6. Abbyrose86 says:

    On the one hand, I agree with your premise that the messages CAN and should be made simpler. I think I mentioned that the other day. The left doesn’t do a good job of selling their ideas and more often than not, makes the message TOO complex.

    SO where messaging and marketing is concerned, thhe messages or the ideas behind the message SHOULD be simplified for the masses and the voters. I think less is more and the KISS principle SHOULD be employed.

    However, I disagree that politics isn’t a complicated business, with many different components and nuances. I think the actual BUSINESS of politics and governing is very complex and DOES require complex thought and the ability to see the ‘BIG PICTURE’ as well as the understanding how various ideas intertwine and effect other components.

    Sometimes, what appears to be a common sense concept or solution, isn’t really that simple. SOME counter intuitive concepts actually WORK, while the intuitive idea doesn’t.
    This is especially true in MACRO Economic theories (which often DO not follow the same rules and goals as micro theories do) and in human behavioral concepts.

    What many may BELIEVE to be a good idea based on intuitive or gut instinct, is NOT necessarily backed up by REAL data and analysis of how PEOPLE really behave or respond to stimuli…as a result so called ‘common sense’ solutions aren’t always reliable or appropriate. THE really wise person knows when to question their gut.

    Sadly, most people can’t understand ALL the complexities and don’t have either the appropriate acumen or education TO understand all the various components, involved. Hence why experts are needed in those various components and the advice of experts SHOULD be heeded.

    For example, policy regarding foreign countries or scientific concepts such as global warming should NOT be left to laymen who have no formal or practical experience in those areas. Experts ARE needed to formulate effective policies in those disciplines. I would suggest the same with policies and regulations that govern the food supply or building codes or even educational necessities, as well as medical issues.

    Laymen should NOT be giving advice on such issues.

    There is always a consequence for any action OR inaction. In politics and with governing, one must REALLY consider ALL variables and the reaction of different people to different concepts. I think that is what many mean, by the term ‘political reality’, at least I know that IS what I mean when I use that term.

    • Smedley Butler says:

      “However, I disagree that politics isn’t a complicated business, with many different components and nuances. I think the actual BUSINESS of politics and governing is very complex and DOES require complex thought and the ability to see the ‘BIG PICTURE’ as well as the understanding how various ideas intertwine and effect other components. ”

      I’ll discuss much of what you say here in part two were I’ll explain why governing is not as complex as it seems and seeing the “Big Picture” doesn’t necessarily mean looking at every tree to see the forest.

      I’ll try to post the next part ASAP. You were already part of the inspiration for this article and I’ll try not to hold up answers. Please be patient, my wrist is already sore from writing even though I’ve been viewing 30 minutes of internet porn a day as physical therapy for it. :)

      Intuition, common sense vs factual reasoning as well as size and scope are not dependent on a degree of complexity. Often what are considered to be common sense solutions can indeed be very much more complex than insinuative solutions and visa verse. Things large in size and scope can be very simple, small things like a wrist watch can be very complex.

      Who to trust laymen or experts? What is the criteria for being an expert? This is where I have and probably many others have the hardest time. Credentials are not a good indicator of expertise. The Corporate machine produces hundreds of “experts” who are credentialed global warming deniers. You are likely not a global warming denier based on your research you may not have credentials but I believe your position to be more credible than the “experts”.

      The son of the wealthy alumni who builds a library gets a diploma. GW was credentialed and he was a dismal leader. Lincoln was largely self educated and relatively un-credentialed and a spectacular success.

      I think the criteria for expertise is knowledge. You can access this by winnowing what you consider to be credible sources from unreliable then then further cross checking these sources. Generally new credible sources can be gleaned from teh citations and recommendations of folks you already believe to be honest and factual.

      Please allow me to say I’m not seeking to annoy you with contrariness Abbyrose and that I agree with much of what you say above. The points where we diverge are fun and interesting to discuss and explore.

      • jkkFL says:

        “The son of the wealthy alumni who builds a library gets a diploma. GW was credentialed and he was a dismal leader.”
        GW got his credentials at KMart- his dad must have paid dearly for his Ignorant sons “education”.
        If you added George’s IQ to Jeb’s, you would be lucky to get double digits.

      • Abbyrose86 says:

        I don’t find this annoying in the least. I actually love the conversation and the debating of specific concepts. I live for this type of stuff!

        I do agree it is hard to determine who is the appropriate ‘expert’ and many of the ways we as a society make those determinations are fraught with errors and assumptions. As you mentioned, there are those who can effectively ‘buy’ a credential based on legacy admission to an ‘exclusive school’ or who are able to gain access to certain careers through effective networks of those in positions of power or influence. Sadly, his situation makes it hard to determine who can be trusted and who’s opinion has merit. IF we really did have a meritocracy rather than a convoluted plutocracy, it would be easier to ascertain who REALLY was a good source!

        Governing is more complex today and in recent times, than it was in times past. WHILE it is interesting and can be very helpful to study the past, putting the past history of human development and thus the development of nations and civilizations, as well as governance, in to proper context when comparing issues from the past, and how they may or may not relate to today is important.

        Today we have the benefit of hindsight AND access to way more information than they had at different times in history. Humans are forever discovering things and creating new ideas, most of the time the ideas are from ideas discovered or created BEFORE but NEW ideas and concepts have been ADDED, thus creating new outcomes or new consequences to the new outcomes.

        For example, let’s look at medical science and the strides researchers have made over the years. Many diseases that once were incurable are now curable. HOWEVER, new side effects and other issues have come up with those discoveries.

        OR technology, that too is rife with new potential externalities or consequences, once unleashed. While the abilities it provides to man can be great, so can the consequences and new situations they create.

        My point is, that politics and governance can have consequences and unintended outcomes, too. If a person with limited ability to understand long term and short term consequences or who can’t see potential dangers in their policy initiatives, they can pose serious dangers for society as a whole.

        Human beings come in many shapes, sizes, abilities and perspectives. WE are all different, even though we may share certain commonalities, we still all process information differently and may have different talents or abilities. Human beings are not that homogenized, no matter how we try and pretend we are or try and create policies that treat us as such. Since human beings and human behavior are rather complex and have many different components; emotion, experience, upbringing, motivational factors, thought processes, genetic factors, biases, etc, etc, etc. Governing of the masses IS complex.

        Especially when you add the other complex concepts that a federal government in today’s day and age is faced with…Economics, Foreign relations, War and Peace, business concepts, tax policies, social issues, religion, wealth disparity, cultural differences, geographic issues, scientific research and it’s effects on the planet and people, medical concepts, etc, etc. etc.

        Once an idea or a concept is taken out of the box, it can’t be put back in. IT’s out there and thus it creates new issues that need to be addressed and considered.

        WE have a very diverse culture in the United States today, people have various levels of education, various cultural identities, various experience levels, as well as other differences that relate to their region and geography, and class.

        It’s not as easy as it looks.

        • Smedley Butler says:

          I believe that people are not really as diverse as they appear to be. It just looks that way not because of the differences because of the similarities. I know reading this many will say “What the hell is this guy talking about? It goes aagainst everything I hear and see” I think this is just a matter of perspective.

          Imagine you have a five gallon bucket of black marbles spread out on a big tray. Their similarity is obvious. you toss in a small handful of colored marbles, in the mass of black marbles these colored one stand out. The difference between the black and colored marbles seems glaring and pronounced.

          Is this because the colored marbles are so different from the black marbles? Not really, it’s because the black marbles that surround them look so much alike that the difference is what you see.

          If you randomly fill the bucket with marbles of all colors what you see is a rich complex diversity of marbles of all colors but are the differences really as complex as they appear? All the complexity you perceive is based on a single factor color.

          In every other way the marbles are identical size, shape, and weight and indeed every other thing aside from color is the same. Although they are the same in 99% of the things that define them, they appear different and complex based on the 1% difference.

          This example applies to people as well as marbles. You can apply this type of logic to describe racial differences and all the social behaviors they have produced. All the myriad of what looks like a wide and complex range of social behaviors based on race can be attributed to a genetic difference that is so small as to be almost negligible.

          Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, the Tea Party, Slavery both physical and economic as well as a host of other political policy’s are or where all promoted by understanding that the difference not the commonality is what people tend to see.

          You seem to have a good grasp of the power of advertising and have given a lot of thought as to how and why it works. Presenting things from a perspective that makes a small difference seem to have much more significance than it does is is a tool used by both advertisers and the Oligarchy.

          Advertisers say “Don’t be the last one on your block to have a widget. Everyone else has one you should to.” People seeking to assert control of political systems do the same. They say “Get on the Bandwagon, everybody’s doing this”

          This works because they understand the basic similarity the way people perceive others to be the “white marble” based on tiny differences. They magnify these small differences to look much larger than they are then use peoples common behavior a a social animal to “fit in” with the group to further their ends.

          They make these small differences the only thing many see to achieve control by promoting the idea that “free thinkers” are dangerous radical provocateurs who are alien to the average person.

          They need not make every single person think this way or do it all at once. A small group conforms to these notions based on what are really small differences. After this point it requires much less effort as the members function the same way based on common traits and do the work for them.

          they employ two basic things, exclusion and iteration. Authoritarian control is based on exclusion Democratic control is based on inclusion. The authoritarian method uses exclusion to brand policy’s that are not in line with theirs as radically different and dangerous. The authoritarian viewpoint is repeated again and again by it’s supporters and seems larger than it is only because of the group suppressing all other viewpoints.

          They grow the group this way by engulfing more and more people until all are on the inside looking out. No one wants to be an outsider.

          Authoritarian come into and retain power even though they are a tiny minority or even single person because they understand how this works. They have generations of knowledge and experimentation since the beginning of man as a guide. And they are very, very good at it.

          Ever hear someone mouth the common platitude “You can change the world”? People say it but they really don’t believe it. They have bought into looking at things from a perspective that tells them this is impossible. To do so requires them to be radically different from the common man because those in power are somehow radically different from them.

          Most folks think effecting change is impossible without a huge and elaborate machine and host of other tools available only to the Oligarchy. It’s not. they’re just like the powerful in almost every way.

          Most peoples gut reaction to saying things like “You can change the world” is to immediately begin formulation rationals why they can’t change the world. Many go like this; The Koch brothers are wealthy trust fund babies with mountains of resources a single person cannot possibly have a hope of success. To make this work you have to overlook that single people can and have made huge changes in politics an society over and again throughout history. Denial impedes progress.

          Every person who makes these large changes is not a trust fund baby, some are from quite humble beginnings. The is dependent on the individual only. Some born to wealth and power squander their fortunes and influence some don’t. Some begin with nothing and gain everything.

          The Wealthy who retain influence and expand it and the poor individual who rise to prominence are different from anyone else in only one significant way. They understand how to promote their ideas with very minimal effort by introducing them at the right place so it is repeated over and over and becomes powerful. They are masters of the Butterfly Effect.

          People are indoctrinated from birth to believe an individual has no power. They never try to look for ways they can make huge positive changes because they are dogmatically convinced they cannot.

          You can see the negative effect of this in groups and movements also based on the idea their individual power is insignificant. “One more person in the group won’t make a difference either way.” It’s not about the contribution the group can make, it’s about the feeling that they can’t make a meaningful contribution.

          Now my personal favorite part of any post where I talk about ME, ME, ME!

          I have been am and and will continue to work on my message skills to make them as clear and understandable as I can. I will continue to learn how to iterate these messages. By dong this I have a chance of using the Oligarchy’s own tools to defeat them.

          I reject the notion alone I am powerless and focus on the proven truth that one man can make a difference by using the methods employed by other individuals who have. I reject the notion that because they are somehow wildly different authoritarians are impossible to challenge.

          I understand that clear ideas properly repeated can be powerful, and that the repetition has a purpose beyond creating a slogan. It’s to increase the chance that the tiny nudge will be made in the right small place by nudging in as many places as possible.

          I accept that what I say often falls outside of the mainstream view and and this is often enough to provoke attacks so fervent that they sometimes make me feel like I’m a guy giving away copies of “On the Origin of Species” at a tent revival. This does not deter me.

          I understand and truly believe that “Yes I can and so can you!” Is a fundamental and integral part of “Yes We Can!” That’s what keeps me going.

          • Abbyrose86 says:

            Alas, Smedley, IT does appear we ran out of room on this discussion!

            I’m thinning out fast! :)

          • Abbyrose86 says:

            While in principle and on a very basic level, I agree people are the same REGARDLESS of culture, color or what have you….As in we all need food to eat, water to drink, air to breath, and WE all need to expel waste from our bodies,etc.

            ON the basic,primal level, ALL people ARE the same. HOWEVER, beyond the basic level there are GREAT differences in how people THINK and react based on age,sex, culture, experience, ability, intellect, perspective, personality, etc.

            THESE differences are why it is illogical to paint all people with a broad brush or assume that ALL people think the same or will react to the same stimuli in the same way.

            In sales, not to be confused with marketing, a sales person takes into account the customer’s personality type, and asks questions to determine HOW to sell to that individual. A good salesperson does NOT use the same technique across the board with ALL perspective customers. IF they did they would lose a lot of sales.

            Marketing on the other hand ATTEMPTS to determine the TARGET audience and demographic and THEN design an advertising campaign TO appeal to THE target demographic.

            Marketing and mass marketing, does not ATTEMPT to reach everyone or to appeal to everyone, as it is REALIZED that there are differences in psychology of the various DIFFERENT demographic groups.

            Demographic groups ARE ALWAYS taken into account in ALL advertising campaigns. THUS no one is EVER trying to appeal to EVERYONE all the time.

            Now in politics, the same concepts apply. It’s a numbers game. Any particular political group REALIZES they are NEVER going to appeal to ALL the people ALL the time. THUS, they try to appeal to their target demographic or in political speak, their base. AFTER they have won the support of that particular group THEN they can broaden their appeal to gain support from another group and THUS gain a larger share of the votes.

            In politics, ALL they need to WIN over is a majority of those who VOTE. SO if only 40% of eligible voters vote, and their base accounts for 15% of that 40%, they ONLY need to get the support of another 6% to WIN an election and thus WIN the power to achieve their agenda.

            THAT is what is meant as well, by political reality.

            A person who TRULY believes in the ideals of the conservative agenda, WILL not change their ingrained beliefs and ideas easily OR without a fight.

            On the same token, a person WHO truly believes in Liberal ideals isn’t going to just cow tow to one who holds an opposing viewpoint without a fight.

            AND if the two sides WILL not budge, you have a stalemate. NOW add in another 98 people ALL who hold closely to their own BELIEFS and ideals and it is DIFFICULT to gain consensus or even compromise.

            THIS, too is a political reality and NOT just a political reality, but a human reality.

            Whether it be in business, relationships, families, or in governance, no individual will ALWAYS be able to get their own way ALL the time or even some of the time. AND when in groups, no one group will ALWAYS get their way ALL the time.

            Regardless of whether one person believes they are right or have right on their side, there are always OTHERS who believe differently and who think THEY are right and have right on THEIR side.

            Again, these are ‘Realities of life’ and are also political realities.

            THERE are always people who are NOT going to like decisions made by their leadership. THERE will ALWAYS be opposing sides and those who think and believe that those in power are doing the wrong thing. IT is impossible to EVER get 100% consensus. It is hard to get even a 50% consensus within a group of people.

            I read a study once, about a year ago, in an organizational behavior course I took, that in groups over 8, it is very difficult to get REAL consensus. Very often in groups over 8 people, group think will tend to take over and people will chose sides and align with the strongest leaders of opinions and ideas that present themselves in the group.

            SOME individuals CAN make a difference…because they have the ability to KNOW how to influence others. OTHERS are followers and will simply go along with the group or the strongest in the group. HOWEVER groups will often break off and segregate into various competing factions.

            Getting the various factions to get along, let alone agree, even AFTER commonalities are found, can be VERY difficult because it doesn’t take much to make that ONE thing they don’t have common ties to, to be the breaking point that keeps them apart.

            • Smedley Butler says:

              I have two concerns the first is that our comments are becoming thinner and will soon waste away.

              The second is that what I’m approaching now is the most challenging thought to transmit in a non-technical manner that is clear and doesn’t give one the impression that I’m wearing my tinfoil hat to tight.

              It looks like we are having a point counter point debate (the good healthy kind) However I believe I am right, yet agree virtually completely with everything you say. How is this apparent contradiction true?

              Let me use the concept of fractal geometry to explain this you likely have seen beautiful complex images created by fractal geometry they are created by repeating the same basic shape in the same basic way over and over again.

              Digital landscapes are produced with this technique and you and I are both looking at a rich and diverse mountain panorama, both you and I know this is a mountain panorama and describe its appearance the same way. But the way we reach consensus on this is by viewing this from two very different perspectives.

              You are giving an accurate description based on your gestalt view of the image I am giving my accurate description from a different perspective I’m zoomed in on the picture so far all I can see is a few triangles. But by knowing what basic shape is repeated how and how often. I give the same description as you because that’s how the scene HAS to look.

              Although not fully mature this is used to describe virtually everything in the universe the shape of galaxy’s, clouds, mountains, trees, even you and I. This concept can and is used to predict the behaviors of complex adaptive systems also like political and social systems. It’s widely used in the financial sector to create computerized trading programs to buy and sell stocks and commodities.

              Commodity traders acknowledge that commodity prices are largely based on perception. These algorithms predict how people will feel tomorrow and they do it with a high enough degree of accuracy so as to be widely embraced.

              Let me show you a place where I appear to disagree but don’t; sales. Using car salesmen as an example. I’ll leave out exceptions because by nature they are not easily reproducible thus exceptional. How they are described by this concept is another 5k words.

              You say car salesmen are a diverse group using a wide variety of methods and techniques I say they are all much the same and we are both right.

              Virtually all car salesmen use the same simple formula meet and greet, qualify, and question. Create an ordered list based on the questions show the mostly likely car to the customer then the next asking each time “do you like it?” in one of a variety of ways. Taking them on a test drive, if the questions indicated handling is top priority they drive down the twisty beach road, if the customer mentions he’d like coffee they drive by Starbucks. They return and close the deal.

              Although the greetings questions actions and interactions of each salesman seem very different it’s produced from a few different basic rules that apply t all. If you chart out these sales interactions and where they lead it looks like a tree, as do many social interactions in politics and government. The resemblance to a tree isn’t totally coincidental it’s a visual representation of how fractal rules apply to social systems as they govern the shape of trees.

              Knowing this empowers the individual by changing the way they look at things. Instead of seeing a mountain of bullshit they can’t possibly shovel away in ten lifetimes they see one small cow pie and understand the simple change of adding a seed at the right time transforms this into a mountain of flowers as they grow, go to seed and the process is repeated without much further effort.

              It gives people a sense of personal responsibility when they understand how repeating an undesirable behavior can increase it being adopted by the public in a geometric fashion. And it gives them an incentive to join groups and movements as well because they understand that they can have a large voice in these by making minute initial changes to a very simple part.

              I’m under no illusion that everyone will ever look at things this way, not ever a majority or likely a large minority. But that doesn’t matter. I believe only a tiny progressive minority need see things this way to effect major social change because of the nature of nature. A tiny authoritarian minority applies these principals to ruin us a tiny progressive minority can apply these principals to enrich us.

  7. Artist50 says:

    Love this! Only because my CPA son was stuck in the car with for three hours would he even answer the question, what is a derivitive? He hates it when I ask him stuff like this ( eye roll ) because I have no economic background and it’s like speaking Russian to me.

  8. Darn it. Now I can’t do my overly-complicated series of articles totally obfuscating the real issues!

    Hope this is not seen by the neo-cons, you might get burned at the stake.

  9. jkkFL says:

    Ditto- and of course it makes sense, which automatically renders it Politically

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  10. Caru says:

    This is an excellent and informative article. Well done.

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