Guest Post: What If We're Beyond Mere Policy Tweaks?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

What If We're Beyond Mere Policy Tweaks?

The nation's ills cannot be fixed by thousands of pages of regulation or more policy tweaks. Only a profound cultural transformation can address our problems.

The mainstream view uniting the entire political spectrum is that all our financial problems can be fixed by what amounts to top-down, centralized policy tweaks and regulation: for example, tweaking policies to "tax the rich," limit the size of "too big to fail" financial institutions, regulate credit default swaps, lower the cost of healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare), limit the abuses of student loans to pay for online diploma mills, and on and on and on.

But what if the rot is already beyond the reach of more top-down policy tweaks? Consider the recent healthcare legislation: thousands of pages of obtuse regulations that require a veritable army of regulators staffing a sprawling fiefdom with the net result of uncertain savings based on a board somewhere in the labyrinth establishing "best practices" that will magically cut costs in a system that expands by 9% a year, each and every year, a system so bloated with fraud, embezzlement and waste that the total sum squandered is incalculable, but estimated at around 40%, minimum.

Does anyone really think that the lack of another centralized Federal fiefdom and thousands of pages of additional regulation is what ails sickcare? Of course not. In effect, we as a society have completely lost the ability to honestly admit a problem exists and that the solution is not to paper it all over with more regulation and insatible, ever-rising debt-based funding, paid for by our children, grandchildren, and their children.

Consider the National Security State, busily constructing rectangular mountains of office space to house its vast, unchecked, oversight-free Empire. Does anyone actually know what tens of thousands of highly-paid people are doing in all these sprawling fiefdoms of National Security? And I don't mean the Pentagon or the NSA--the buildings sprouting all over the tonier bits of D.C. and its suburbia are the metastasizing results of the "green light" given to anything remotely connected to GWOT--the global war on terror, the war that by definition can never be declared won or even ended, the war that always requires more funding lest one "event" slip through the cracks.

If nobody in the elected chain of command actually knows where all this "black budget" money is going, what are the odds it's being spent wisely and prudently? "No meaningful oversight" inevitably leads to abuse of budget and power. If we haven't learned that, then we are well on the way to financial and political self-destruction.

Consider the Glass-Steagall Act, at 37 pages in length, and the 2,319-page monstrosity of corrupted Federal power, the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:" (Source)

Back in December, Nick Schulz helped put the size of the 2,074-page healthcare bill into some historical context by comparing its length to some previous bills that rank among the most consequential in U.S. history, like the 82-page Social Security Act of 1935 and the 74-page Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Now that Congress has passed the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” it might be a good time to compare the 2,319-page financial reform bill (245 pages longer than the healthcare bill) to the previous bills listed below (and see graph) that are considered among the most consequential legislative acts for banking and finance.


1. Federal Reserve Act (1913) – 31 pages.


2. Glass-Steagall Act (1933) – 37 pages.

Though few have delved into the ramifications of this monstrous power-grab, it seems that the Executive Branch has grabbed potentially unprecedented powers with little if any oversight by Congress--all in the supremely Orwellian pursuit of "consumer protection."

If a 37-page bill took care of the problem in 1933, why can't the same 37-page bill be re-instated? Why, indeed. The reason is that the bill impedes the flow of public funds to favored cartels and opportunities for financial looting by these cartels, and so a monster is created that nobody understands and which limits or simply overwhelms oversight by elected officials outside the Imperial Presidency.

The entire financial and political infrastructure is corrupt. Perhaps it is time to note that the most thoroughly, venally, pervasively corrupt nations on Earth all have abundant regulations against corruption.

Regulations don't stop or limit corruption, fraud and embezzlement by magic. Sickcare is beyond being "fixed" by thousands of pages of policy tweaks, limitations and regulations. The financial system is beyond being "fixed" by thousands of pages of arcane regulations that only serve to obfuscate the looting and predation while enshrining another vast Federal fiefdom that harvests the national income while accomplishing nothing of substance.

Regulation only functions if the culture and the society have a value system and a will to enforce it. The American people have lost those values and the will. Complicity reigns supreme. Instead we support going through the motions of adding layers of bureaucratic bloat, and listening to Soaring Rhetoric (TM) from bloviated politicos who promise us "prosperity," "recovery" and all the rest without any sacrifice or engagement.

Going through the motions never solved anything. 2,000-page regulatory thickets are one thing, and one thing only: purposeful obfuscation via complexity. ( America Is Just Going Through the Motions (November 19, 2010):

A profound realization hit me last night: America is just going through the motions now--of reform, of healthcare, of everything. America's leadership--both its elected and appointed officials, and its "shadow" Financial Power Elite leadership (the corporatocracy of crony Capitalist cartels and rentier/speculative parasites) are just going through the motions of financial reform. And the American public is resigned to just going through the motions of accepting the travesty of a mockery of a sham that is called "reform," too, even as they understand in their bones that nothing has been fixed and the next financial crisis has already been cooked into their future.


One of our few reliable voice of reason in the world of finance, Simon Johnson, has already laid bare how the the next financial crisis and inevitable bailout of the banking parasites will unfold. His article in The New Republic Way Too Big To Fail reveals how the "too big to fail" banks have shredded the wet paper bag of "reform" Congress went through the motions of conjuring up: they are quickly expanding globally, beyond the reach of any mere nation-state's grasp.


Let's be honest, shall we? There never was any fire for real reform of the financial sector. It was all rote, a foul, stupid play-act, a passionless pantomime of "caring" and fake-"progressiveness" displayed for propaganda purposes.


Real reform occurs when the political class of toadies, sycophants, leeches and cowards is forced by a near-universal public outrage to pass simple, powerful legislation and the budgetary resources to enforce that legislation. For example, the landmark environmental laws of the 1970s. Rivers in America used to catch fire before this Federal legislation; now they don't. There was a true passion and desire in the nation to clean up the industrial pollution that was destroying the nation's commons.


There was no real fire for financial reform in the politico class. All they had to do was wait out the public's outrage over TARP and then get down to the business of collecting contributions from financial players and their armies of toady-lobbyists.


So Washington went through the motions of "reform" and the regulatory agencies went through the motions of "enforcing" existing regulations. But nobody was indicted, no RICO suits filed on behalf of the defrauded, no billion-dollar penalties slapped on those who carted off tens of billions in embezzled, ill-gotten gains, and no perps forced into bankruptcy.


In other words, nothing got done except another layer of useless, overpaid bureaucracy was added to the bloated, overstuffed Federal payroll.


The exact same dynamic is visible in the "healthcare" (a.k.a. sickcare) "reform." 2,000 pages of mind-numbing slicing and dicing of the vast flood of national treasure that flows to the sickcare cartels, and nary a single word on the actual health of the American public, which continues to deteriorate on multiple fronts.


The "reform" is to add multiple layers of bureaucracy and additional costs on a bloated, out-of-control system in which 50% of the money is already wasted on fraud, needless procedures/meds and paper shuffling.


It was all about going through the motions of reforming a system everyone knows is beyond dysfunctional.

The painful truth is that we are far beyond the point where policy/legalist regulatory tweaks will actually fix what's wrong with America. The rot isn't just financial or political; those are real enough, but they are mere reflections of a profound social, cultural, yes, spiritual rot.

This is the great illusion: that our financial and political crises can be resolved with top-down, centralized financial reforms of one ideological flavor or another. It is abundantly clear that our crises extend far beyond a lack of regulation or policy tweaks. We cling to this illusion because it is easy and comforting; the problems can all be solved without any work or sacrifice on our part.

Our complicity in the corruption is never mentioned: our votes for kleptocractic politico toadies who promise us that our share of Federal swag will not be sacrificed, our interest payments to the banking cartel/oligarchy, our acceptance of bogus statistics, bogus "reforms" and ceaseless propaganda as legitimate, and lastly, our silence in the face of destructive deficits, lest our share of the swag be cut.

This is how once-great Empires end: toothless regulations are passed by bought-and-paid-for legislatures for the purposes of perception management, and a populace addled by constant entertainments and staged combats in the Coliseum listlessly pursues their "right" to bread and circuses of distraction.

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trav7777's picture

You mean, what IF oil really HAS peaked and all this financial shit amounts to a hill of crap?


Ahmeexnal's picture

Riiiiight....the universe will collapse because of "peak oil".   Just as it collapsed with "peak whale oil" and "peak coal".

That's the problem with idiots with no grasp whatsoever on science.  They always believe what the TV tells them on the evening news.

Let me guess: you have a portrait of Al Sore on your desk.

knukles's picture

But it's a rhetorical question, isn't it?

Don Birnam's picture

To this piece, I offer a quote from Tacitus, with the accompanying admonition that those who rule shall stand in opposition to reform of any kind and to any degree, and will engage any attempts at same with every power at their disposal...

In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous.


Manthong's picture

James Grant notes our move "from central banking to central planning".

Transformer's picture


Worldwide martial law is coming, but it will fail, just as it failed in Jamaica."


I went to the link.  It didn't read like the martial law failed, to me.  In fact hundreds and hundreds of blacks were slaughtered, hundreds flogged, and in general got the shit beat out of them.  White deaths were under 20.  that kinda seems like the Martial Law was pretty successful, at putting down the masses.

Are you kidding's picture

Maybe he means after...later...ever been to Jamaica? I've been there ONCE...never again. It's a shithole, apparently martial law didn't work out too well.

Michael's picture

Lying to the public about the economy deja vu Hungary style;

We Lied to Win, Says Hungary PM

"Hungary's prime minister has admitted saying that his party lied to the public to win April's general election.

Ferenc Gyurcsany's admission came after Hungarian radio played a tape of a meeting he had with his Socialist MPs a few weeks after the election.

On it he says the party had lied to the public and his "boneheaded" government failed to introduce any real policies.

About 3,000 people gathered outside parliament on Sunday calling for him to resign but Mr Gyurcsany has refused.

Economic reforms

The meeting concerned was on 26 May, about a month after the governing coalition had won 210 of the 386 parliamentary seats.

A brief excerpt was played on Hungarian state radio and others appeared on web sites. It is not clear how they were leaked.

If we have to give account to the country about what we did for four years, then what do we say Ferenc Gyurcsany Send us your views

In the excerpts, Mr Gyurcsany says harsh economic reforms are needed.

"There is not much choice. There is not, because we screwed up. Not a little, a lot. No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have.

"Evidently, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years. It was totally clear that what we are saying is not true.

"You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink. Nothing. If we have to give account to the country about what we did for four years, then what do we say?"

Mr Gyurcsany thanks "divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy and hundreds of tricks" for keeping the economy above board.

In a speech sprinkled with obscenities, he says: "We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening."

Some analysts suggest the leak may be with the prime minister's permission as he posted a full transcript on his own web blog.

Mr Gyurcsany may be trying to emphasise the need for tough reforms, they say. Local elections are set for 1 October.

Mr Gyurcsany went on television on Sunday amid the row and said the "lies" he referred to were those politicians told citizens, who now believed they could have "happiness as a gift".

"We have to stop the deluge of lies which have covered the country for many years," he said."

JW n FL's picture



Eat the Rich!

The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.


They have been eating You! and Yours!! for GENERATIONS!!!


Article I, Section 8, Clause 5, of the United States Constitution says

"Congress shall have the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof and of any foreign coins".

But that is not the case.

The United States government has no power to issue money, control the flow of money, or to even distribute it - that belongs to a private corporation registered in the State of Delaware - the Federal Reserve Bank.


JW n FL's picture


News Release
The race to zero - Speech by Andrew Haldane


The cause of dislocations in price may be the disappearance of liquidity in situations of stress. Andrew Haldane argues that the advent of HFT and fragmentation may have made this more likely, with HFT firms more inclined to withdraw liquidity. Meanwhile, longer-term investors may be either unable or unwilling to fill the liquidity gap because HFT activity makes this unprofitable or risky. The result is a potential double liquidity void and a greater dislocation of prices at times of stress. Many of these features were evident during the so called "Flash Crash" of 6 May 2010 with HFT ".adding liquidity during a monsoon and absorbing it during a drought".

A Rothschild Speaks on the idea of Developing One International Currency


Struan's picture

Austerity measure were taken in 2010. People didnt protest then, they protest now because they`re fed up with the corruption of the government and robot talk of the PM, which is just a remote control of the president. And now the president appointed an external SECRET SERVICE boss to be a PM. He will go through vote in parlament but the guvernemnt coallition has the majority so he will get trough.




Spastica Rex's picture

In way of response: hmm... I'm not so sure...

Matt's picture

When was Peak Coal again? What's that, Oil replaced Coal before the peak? What's that, Oil peaked in 2005 and we are NOT in the process of transitioning to an alternative?

Are you "All In" on LENR? Or what other alternative do you see replacing Oil in the very near future?

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

We need to find the magical den of unicorns and all will be fine.  To the Realm of Marmagon, where our elven brothers can help us!

Spastica Rex's picture

God planned for everything. No limits to growth; not how God rolls. Soon, plain water will be used to power everything. Somebody actually said that once, IIRC. Anyway, the Invisible Hand Saves, all praise be to It. I mean Him. It is a Him, isn't it?

Jumbotron's picture

MsCreant might disagree.  In fact He may be HER !

knukles's picture

Fucking Awesome.

Just When Plain Water Has Disappeared.  Except that bio-engineered by Monsanto. 
Solution is to start Chemtrailing Xanax and Ativan.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Whale oil peaked?!  Ooooh no, now we can't drive cars anymore!

Ahmeexnal's picture

Riiiiiiight.....mankind has always had cars.  What are you, a valley girl?

Jumbotron's picture

Ahmeexnal ignorantly puked.....

"Riiiiight....the universe will collapse because of "peak oil".   Just as it collapsed with "peak whale oil" and "peak coal". name the next big thing in energy.  Please Bill Nigh the Science Guy.....what exactly is out there that has a better ERORI than oil which was the case when oil replaced whale oil and coal which replaced wood which replaced dung.....


Oh....while you're at it propellerhead.....let us know what is out there that NOT ONLY has a better EROEI than oil  but can be ramped up for long enough to keep the perpetual growth machine going?


Now that I think about it.....what COMBINATION of things which have a LOWER ERORI can ALL be brought to bear to replace oil in time before the wheels of the perpetual growth machine fall off thus starving these supplies of cornucopian oil replacements much less fuel further exploration, discovery and extraction of ever more expensive to find and refine oil ?


And by the way....Al Gore is all about Global Warming not Peak Cheap Energy.  He may be a Greenie.....but that's irrelevent.  Thanks for the Straw Man anyway. 

Now answer the fucking questions.  First place to look is         Lot's of info from people in the industry.  They've even kicked out folks who are too fringe.  They now  concentrate even more on data and facts.  Do the same.

Peak Oil is not about RUNNING OUT OF OIL !   It's about running out of ENOUGH CHEAP OIL to continue to fuel the perpetual growth machine called Global Capitalism.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Nice office you have there....on BP tower.  How's Tony Hayward doing?

I'm pretty sure someone unable to correctly spell IRRELEVANT would no doubt be unable to conceive of a better energy alternative than the one currently in use.  If it were for your kind,  we'd still be stuck on the flat earth model.


Jumbotron's picture

"Nice office you have there....on BP tower.  How's Tony Hayward doing?

I'm pretty sure someone unable to correctly spell IRRELEVANT would no doubt be unable to conceive of a better energy alternative than the one currently in use.  If it were for your kind,  we'd still be stuck on the flat earth model."


ot taking the time to spell check irrelevant is just that.  Not sure what you mean by nice office on BP tower.....put down the wine glass, you've had enough for the night.....


Now, enough bullshit.....answer the fucking questions.

Transformer's picture

I don't suppose anyone wants to talk about abiotic oil, hmmm?  It's just another one of them fringe theories, where a small, backward country comes up with a science project that eventually makes them the world's number one oil producer.  Ooops, not allowed to talk about on the Oildrum, where free speech reigns supreme.  I guess we shouldn't talk about it here either.

mtomato2's picture

Ahm, you're embarrassing yourself. Just stop.  Please...

Hulk's picture

No need to worry, I have a company that is installing a shit load of tesla coils on the 33rd parallel.

Infinite energy for all, straight hair becomes curly, curly hair becomes straight, all our ills cured...

Struan's picture

Thats the peak oil of cheap oil. It will soon be over. There is plenty of expensive oil but it takes a lot of oil to get that oil.

Ahmeexnal's picture

The guy who invented the internet, global warming, and the pregnant chads.

Problem Is's picture

"Al Sore was born Silver Spoon in hand,
Lord don't he help himself.

It ain't me, it ain't me,
I ain't no Senator's Son."

easypoints's picture

EROEI is science, and comparing the respective global dependency of coal and whale oil to crude is ludicrous. I don't know what T.V. you watch, but the media isn't shouting Peak Oil on the news, in print, or anywhere else. In fact they do about all they can to say the opposite. That's usually a contrarian indicator these days.

Jumbotron's picture

Is that Christian Bale? :)

Just fuckin with you.....I agree.....even defended you down below.


Edit...oops....up there  ^


Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Oh shit, the dark lord is the dark knight? 

Go figure.

vast-dom's picture



"I LOVE YOU" says the whore.

"TRUST ME" says the politician.


"HOPE AND CHANGE" says the shyster.

And you want to work and sacrifice for them?

I prefer not to. 


delacroix's picture

you bastard, she did love me, she said it several times.

Problem Is's picture

"HOPE AND CHANGE" says the Teleprompter...

And the Useful Idiot reading from it...

Hive Raid's picture

If we were still a country of Americans, we could solve any economic problem. But, we have been invaded by a Mexican army of some 50 million, including the millions of little Mexican soldiers born every year on US soil, whose only loyalty is to La Raza. That adds to the army of over 30 million Africans which have been turning American cities into African cities for many years now. And we cannot forget the few million Jews who are responsible for the 3rd world invasion--who pushed through the 1965 immigration act as a form of genocide against Americans, and to this day enforce the cult of political correctness with their media dominance, to the same end.

No, there is no political solution. That much is certain. The parasites will suck the lifeblood of Americans for as long as it takes to bankrupt and overrun us, and then the natural breakdown and Balkanization will draw new lines over North America.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Are you another graduate from Trav's Trailertrash University?

achmachat's picture

I take you are a native American?

Hive Raid's picture

Indeed. My people built this civilization out of the wilderness. And now it's being destroyed, and many of us don't support that. Those of you who do support it are traitors, unequivocally.

You are likely a Jew, no? There is a question as to whether a Jew can be considered an American traitor, as--loyal to Judea--they are never really Americans in the first place.

economics1996's picture

The happiest neighborhoods are the most homogenous.  We the people have a right to language, borders, and culture.  Otherwise why even have a “country.”

As for the Yids, just Google US spies and see how many are Yids.

Spastica Rex's picture

Nah, same is boring. My favorite neighborhood was smack dab in the middle of urban Seattle. Then I moved to Pendleton, Oregon. Fucking homogenous, much like Twin Peaks.