Bill Bonner

The defining characteristic of a zombified system is the way it hands out its rewards. In an honest economy, people do their best. They work hard. They take their chances. Some prevail because they are productive. Others are just lucky. The chips fall where they may.

But as the system is taken over by zombies, the chips fall where they are told to fall. Rather than to honest and efficient producers, the rewards go to those who curry favors.

Elizabeth Fowler knows how it works. She labored at the left hand of senator Max Baucus, drafting the collection of crimes and punishments that came to be known as ‘Obamacare.’ Senator Baucus admitted that he had better things to do than actually read it. But he didn’t have to. His chief health policy counsel, the aforementioned Madam Fowler, knew what was in it. As a former top lobbyist for Wellpoint, America’s largest health insurance provider, she had made sure the chips went where she wanted.

“If you drew an organization chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations,” wrote Politico at the time, “Fowler would be chief operating officer.”

Fowler had already been through the revolving door more than once or twice. She worked for Baucus before joining Wellpoint…and after. When she came back to Baucus she replaced Michelle Easton, another Wellpoint lobbyist, who helped guide the senator on health policy while Ms. Fowler was on the Wellpoint payroll.

Then, after the legislation was passed, the White House turned to the clever lobbyist to implement it. After all, the sugar spot in the legislation was the provision requiring people to buy products from companies such as Wellpoint, whether they wanted to or not. As America’s new Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council, her job was to make sure Wellpoint got a good return on its investment.

And then, in December 2012, whoosh…she went back through the revolving door. Type in “Elizabeth Fowler” and “revolving door” and you will get the whole story. The ‘architect of Obamacare,’ say the papers, left the White House to go to the honeypot at Johnson & Johnson.

What will she do there? Will she test the adult diapers? Will she take out the trash or write advertising jingoes? No, she is up to her old tricks, in a ‘senior position’ at their ‘government affairs and policy group.’

You go girl!

(This is not the first time this sort of special privilege has been granted in the USA. The ethanol industry got it coming and going. Tax credits subsidized farmers for growing corn and then federal mandates required fuel companies to buy it. )

Wellpoint was not the only winner in the health care sector last year. The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON — Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.

The special favor was buried in Section 632. It involved a kidney dialysis drug — Sensipar — that was spared from cost-cutting restrictions for an additional two years. This was the fruit of efforts by 74 Amgen lobbyists. It is expected to cost the Medicare system up to $500 million.

That’s how a zombie system works. Congressional staff members slip favors to private sector companies. Then, the companies return the favors, giving staff members cushy jobs. One of the chief Amgen lobbyists, for example, had been an employee of Senator Max Baucus, head of the Senate Finance Committee. Jeff Forbes was the senator’s chief of staff. Amgen has given the politicians $5 million since 2007, with $68,000 to Baucus.

But poor Elekta AB. The Swedish maker of radiation tools got stabbed in the back by the same last-minute legislation. That’s the way zombieism works too; the rewards go to people who are best able to pervert the political process. Elekta was at a disadvantage. A foreign company, it couldn’t give money to the politicians. Varian, its competitor, could. Plus, Varian put 18 lobbyists on the case and managed to get Elekta’s payments cut in half.

More to come…

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America's most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind The Daily ReckoningDice Have No Memory: Big Bets & Bad Economics from Paris to the Pampas, the newest book from Bill Bonner, is the definitive compendium of Bill's daily reckonings from more than a decade: 1999-2010. 

  • karry on

    das is eine swinish propaganda…

  • Wags

    What a corrupt system we have.

  • 1c2s16% tax

    in hk fist start with chrlatrinity to open door for
    as usual
    g…y c chow
    c…a as a l…r of w…d e…y
    2010.

  • shawnallen

    More to come… I should hope so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.horace.5 David Horace

    There are two things you never want to see being made: Hot dogs and Laws.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.horace.5 David Horace

    This was supposed to be the most “transparent” administration ever. Right.

  • Rusty Fish

    The day after tomorrow, if a zombie king mimicking human king, stands aloft the Red Square or the Tian An Men Square or the Medicine Square proclaiming their supremacy, it would be too late to regret then. Checkmating using zombies among the superpowers would only present disastrous outcome to everyone, big or small. An early ban on the use zombies
    in all human conflict would benefit world citizens.

  • Rusty Fish

    To locate the hideout of the zombies is extremely difficult, rendering rectification job
    even harder. Zombies stealthy attribute presents radar evasive effect. It was rumoured
    that high altitude pilot sometime met strange encounters, their radar screen could not
    capture the zombie. The next thing they found out was zombies sitting next to them in the
    absence of the co-pilot. Or, zombies may sneak in through the exhaust pipe into the cockpit
    without their knowledge. Or, their missile targeted on a zombie failed to explode. Untold stories.

  • Rusty Fish

    In western democracy, votes that decide power. What happens to the
    ordinaries, the grass-root, the commoners. And, almost 100% are
    literate, intelectuals who are not naive enough to simply cast their
    votes. No one vote for a curruptive one, certainly. What has given
    rise to the corrupted system.??? As world power, it is packed with
    power that would incidentally influence or dictate life style of citizens
    of other nations especially the weaker countries. For heaven sake,
    the basic voters, please vote conscientiously. It would not only
    affect your very own nation but also other nationalities as well.
    but it traverses the entire
    When zombies bloat, the disastrous effect does not limit to your
    territory planet.

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