The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003.

Note: The following are notes from the above book. I found the book seminal, eye-opening, life-changing. I recommend that you buy and read the entire book. Only by reading the entire book will you get the whole picture. The following quotes, I hope, will whet your appetite. --Colby Glass


" know the kind of spider-brained, commercially poisoned piece-of-crap reporting you get in America" (1).

2001 Election

"..Governor Jeb Bush's office had knowlingly blocked 40,000 legal voters from registering. Coincidentally, over 90 percent of those voters were Democrats" (3).


"The U.S. media is still peeing on your leg and telling you it's raining" (3).

Exxon Valdez

".. the Exxon Valdez.. the oil spill was no accident: Before the tanker's grounding, Exxon shut off the ship's radar to save money and a British Petroleum affiliate had faked the safety equipment reports" (6).

2001 Election

"In the months leading up to the November 2000 balloting, Florida Secretary of State Harris, in coordination with Governor Jeb Bush, ordered local elections supervisors to purge.. 57,700 from voter registries. In Harris' computers, they are named as felons who have no right to vote in Florida.

"Thomas Cooper is on the list... The Harris list says Cooper was convicted of a felony on January 30, 2007.


"At least 90.2 percent of those on this "scrub" list.. are innocent.. it is a list of democrats.

"..George W. Bush [won] by a plurality of 537 votes... Gore lost at least 22,000 votes as a result of this smart little black-box operation...

"In the USA.. the story was simply not covered. The theft of the presidential race... grabbed big television coverage.. worldwide -- everywhere, that is, but the USA" (12).

"...the number of voters wrongly barred from voting [was] over 90,000, mostly Blacks and Hispanics, and by a wide majority, Democrats" (12).


What is "laughably called America's "journalist culture".. a flock of docile sheep.. content to munch on.. then reprint a diet of press releases and canned stories provided by government and corporate public-relations operations" (14).

"No one ever lost their job writing canned statements from a press release" (15).

2001 Election

"Florida [barred] ex-criminals from voting.. [There were] court orders.. which ordered Governor Bush to stop interfering in the civil rights of ex-cons who had the right to vote... The governor knowlingly violated the law and court orders.." (34).

"Florida's own courts have repeatedly told the governor he may not take away the civil rights of Florida citizens who have committed crimes in other states, served their time and had their rights restored by those states" (36).

"Harris's office ordered counties to purge.. voters [from] Texas.. Illinois.. Ohio [who were] charged with [nothing] more than misdemeanors" (38).

"Choice Point vice president James Lee [said] the state ordered them to get it wrong.. The state, he said, "wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon"" (57).

"..the state had given DBT the truly insane directive to add to the purge list people who matched 90 percent of the last name... DBT objected, knowing this would sweep in a huge number of innocents. The state then went further and ordered DBT to shift to an 80 percent match" (58).

"And Florida used more than the voter purge in their "no count" bag of tricks... Florida simply did not count 179,855 ballots. And whether your vote counted depended a lot on your color" (62).

"The proportion of uncounted ballots to the Black population, county by county, was nearly a perfect match" (63).

"..the NAACP.. asked the state to return voting rights to those they acknowledge were wrongly named as felons... Harris['s].. office refuses to return their civil rights...

"Following the and Nation stories, an embarrassed Florida Legislature voted to bar the secretary of state from ever again hiring an outside firm like DBT to generate a purge list...

"Harris overcame the problem of the new law in a forthright manner: she broke it... she hired an outside firm.. Arthur Anderson [for the next election]" (74).

"Florida was so successful [stealing the election], the Republicans.. have been busy "floridizing" state elections procedures from sea to shining sea. The race for the White House in 2004 may already be decided for you.." (77).

"The Russians [have] voted a resolution demanding that American presidential elections, like Haiti's and Rwanda's, should be held under the auspices of the United Nations" (80).

Bush, 9/11

"If U.S. intelligence agencies did not see the attack coming it was because they were told not to look.. the Bush administration blocked key investigations into allegations that top Saudi Arabian royals and some members of the bin Laden family, not just Osama, funded and supported Al-Quaeda and other terrorist organizations" (92).

"FBI agents had wanted to check into two members of the bin Laden family.. but were told to stay away by superiors" (98).

"Khan Laboratories.. investigators had been tracking the funding for this so-called "Islamic [nuclear] Bomb" back to Saudi Arabia, under Bush.. the inquiry was stymied" (100).

"..the terrorists we are hunting today were trained and armed by the Reagan-Bush administration" (103).

Mud-slinging, Bush, 9/11

"Congresswoman McKinney.. cited our [BBC and Guardian stories about Bush protecting the Saudis] on the floor of Congress, calling for an investigation... She was labeled a traitor, a freak, a conspiracy nut and "a looney" -- the latter by her state's Democratic Senator, who led the mob in the political lynching of the uppity Black woman... She.. suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known in advance about the September 11 attacks but had done nothing so his supporters could make money in war... Dan Rather had warned her, shut up.. She didn't and it cost her her seat in Congress.

"McKinney's electoral corpse in the road silenced politicians [and] the media" (105-106).


"When tested for the coveted Air Guard get-out, young George W. tested at twenty-five out of one hundred, one point above "too-dumb-to-fly" status, yet leaped ahead of hundreds of applicants to get the Guard slot... Texas's toy army.. a favorite club for warmongers a bit squeamish about actual combat" (107).

"..Ben Barnes--then lieutenanct governor of the Lone Star State--quietly suggested to Air Guard chief Brig. Gen. James Rose that he find a safe spot in the Guard for Congressman George Bush's son... Bush's draft-dodging [was tied] to GTech's exclusive deal with the state" (108).


"The fact that a truly free market didn't exist and cannot possibly work did not stop Britain's.. Margaret Thatcher from adopting it.. pushed the British government to sell off every power plant in the nation... meant that, for the first time in any nation, an electricity plant owner, namely Enron, could charge whatever the market could bear.." (122).

"Electricity prices jumped.. by 300 percent and 400 percent virtually overnight... five times the profit allowed by U.S. regulators" (125).

Tort Reform

"..tort law, the unique right of Americans to sue the bastards who rip us off... [Ken] Lay founded Texans for Lawsuit Reform.. Bush's first big move as governor was to call an emergency session of the legislature to act on TLR's agenda. Tort reform [was] new restrictions on the right of stockholders, workers, and pensioners to sue rogue executives" (128).


".. some well-aimed campaign contributions will do the trick.. In 1996.. the California legislature tossed out a regulatory system which had provided reasonably cheap, clean, reliable energy to the state...

"Instead of the 20 percent savings promised by the law [pushers], in the first year of full deregulation, their energy charges rose 379 percent" (129).

"What happened [the blackouts and price explosion] was predictable.. but the political push was on, despite foreknowledge of disaster... They could name their price for electricity and they did -- 30,000 percent above the old regulated price" (130).

"Markets for electricity don't work and can't work. Electricity is not a bagel -- unlike your morning muffin, you can't do without it when it gets too pricey...

"..electricity sellers can extract a limitless ransom. When the weather would not create a shortage, a monkey wrench could. Repairs were scheduled at peak times... deliberate sabotage.. simply threw away spare parts needed to keep the pants running" (131).

"Merely by holding back power from a single generator, the power merchants could make the electricity from their other plants worth more than gold... California power companies used "physical withholding" and "economic withholding" to create false shortages in California. 98 percent of the time -- between May and November 2000... Add in "false congestion," "false scheduling," and "megawatt laundering," and the overcharges add up, conservatively, to $6.2 billion in a single year.

"..the three big California power companies.. spent.. $34.8 million that year on lobbying and campaign contributions" (132).


"Enron.. purchase[d] the water system of Buenas Aires... Workers were fired en masse, allowing Enron to pocket their pay... left the water contaminated" (134-135).

"Brazil's government privatized Rio Light, selling it... Reliant, the Houston company.. promised improved service for Rio -- then axed 40 percent of the company's workforce... Nearly every day, a new neighborhood went dark" (135).

"The windfall from reduced wages and price increases allowed the foreign owners to hike dividends [profits] by 1,000 percent" (136).


" Southern California, the wholesale price of electricity there jumped 1,000 percent... Shortage? Nope...

"It turns out the Texas merchant who controlled the biggest pipeline into California, El Paso Corporation, simply blocked access to part of the tube.. California didn't run out of energy, it ran out of government" (140).


"The Golden Straitjacket... cut government, cut the budgets and bureaucracies and the rules they make [to protect the people]; privatize just about everything; deregulate currency and capital markets, free the banks to speculate in currency.. Open every nation's industry to foreign trade, eliminate those stodgy old tariffs and welcome foreign ownership without limit; wipe away national border barriers to commerce; let the market set prices on everything... cut public pensions, cut welfare, cut subsidies; let politics shrink and let the marketplace [chaos] guide us" (144).

"The purpose of the new capitalism is to shoot the wounded" (Andy Grove, Chairman of Intel Corporation).

"China, whose output grows at 5 percent per year by studiously following the reverse of IMF policies" (150).

"The IMF and World Bank have effectively controlled Tanzania's economy since 1985... Tanzania's GDP dropped from $309 to $210 per capita, literally fell, and the rate of abject poverty jumped to 51 percent of the population" (150).

"Before 1980, virtually every nation in [the] Third World.. was either socialist or welfare statist [and their] per capita income grew 73 percent in Latin America and 34 percent in Africa... [but] since 1980 [after adopting] the Reagan/Thatcher model, [there has been] growth of less than 6 percent over twenty years -- and African incomes decline[d] by 23 percent.

"From 1950 to 1980, socialist and welfare statist policies added more than a decade of life expectancy to virtually every nation on the planet. From 1980 to today, life under structural assistance has gotten brutish and decidedly shorter" (151).

"..the IMF concedes, "[this is] one of the greatest economic failures of the 20th Century"" (152).

"Did any nation avoid this fate? Yes... Botswana. Their trick? "They told the IMF to go packing"" (157).

".. Anibol Veron, a thirty-seven-year-old father of five, lost his job as a bus driver [due to IMF policies] from a company that owed him nine months' pay. Veron joined angry unemployed Argentines.. who block roads in protest.. The nation's military police killed him with a bullet to the head.

"Globalization boosters portray resistance to the New World Order as a lark of pampered, naive Western youths" (166).

Tort Reform, Bush

"George W. Bush has fought to tear apart the one remaining effective control over corporate miscreants: the right of victims to sue corporations and executives that poison workers, kill consumers and cook their books. As Governor, Bush guided such so-called tort reform into Texas law in 1999, a faor to.. Enron's then CEO Ken Lay... [It was] a campaign against victims' rights" (171).

Water, Privatization, Commons

"One of the key aims of the GATS treaty is to turn publicly owned water services over to private enterprise...

"Public water was first sold off to corporate operators in England. Prices jumped 250 percent and watering English gardens has, at times, been criminalized...

"..the water privateers marched on Egypts, Indonesia, and Argentina. But when they reached Cochabamba, Bolivia.. the thirsty poor resisted...

"Six died in Bolivia. Another 175 were injured... after the military fired gas and bullets at demonstrators. The victims were opposing the 35 percent hike in water prices.." (177).

"To quell the spreading demonstrations, President Banzer announced cancellation of the water privatization on April 5, 2000...

"World Bank director Wolfensohn has a solution to the lack of water: raise its price" (180).

"..nearly one thousand executives and bureaucrats gathered in The Hague in March 2000 to review and refine a program to privatize the world's water systems.

"..these private operators.. can only turn a profit if prices rise radically and rapidly.." (181).

Chavez, Good Governments, PR as news

"..on April 12 and 13, 2002, every major paper in the USA -- with no exception -- announced that Chavez had resigned his presidency. He was "unpopular," he was "dictatorial"... every one of these factoids was dead wrong... almost all papers used identical words... which I traced back to a U.S. State Department briefing.

"In fact, President Chavez had been kidnapped" (192).

"In Caracas, Chavez minister Miguel Bustamante Madriz explained it to me. "America can't let us stay in power. We are the exception to the new globalization order. If we succeed, we are an example to all the Americas"...

"..Bush had played footsy with the coup plotters... Bush's White House is quoted as saying that Chavez's election by "a majority of voters" did not confer "legitimacy" on his government. (How appropriate from the victors of Florida)" (194).

"Chavez's crimes go beyond giving milk and housing to the poor. His real sin was to pass two laws... the new land law that promised to give unused land to the landless.. [and] the petroleum law that doubled the royalty taxes paid by Exxon/Mobil.." (195).

"..the World Bank's.. strategy.. [was] cutting works programs, smashing union rules and lsicing real wages. Contrast that with Chavez's first act after defeating the coup: announcing a 20 percent increase in the minimum wage...

"Chavez moved to renationalize oil and rejected the sale of Venezuela's water systems" (198).

"Chavez is an old-style social democratic reformer..." (199).

Globalization, Corporate Crimes

"The coup d'etats of the twenty-first century will follow the Argentine model, in which the international banks seize the financial lifeblood of a nation, making the official presidential title holder merely inconsequential except as a factotum of the corporate agenda" (199).

Venequela represented a threatening example that could not be allowed to succeed" (199).

"An lastly, there is the all-important propaganda war aimed at U.S. citizens to ensure that Americans remain ignorant and quiescent when a democratically elected president is assassinated, overthrown or houded from office" (200).

Pinochet, Anti-Globalization Successes

Globalization rules were destroying Chile's economy. "Riots and strikes by a population too hungry and desperate to fear bullets forced Pinochet to reverse course. He boote his beloved Chicago experimentalists.

"Reluctantly, the general restored the minimum wage and unions' collective bargaining rights... authorized a program to create 500,000 [new] jobs... CHile was pulled from depression by dull old Keynesian remedies -- all Franklin Roosevelt, zero Ronald Reagan. The junta even instituted what remains today as South America's only law restricting the flow of foreign capital...

"Pinochet nationalized banks and industry on a scale unimagined by the socialist Allende" (203).

Sen, Anti-Globalization Successes

"The southern Indian state of Kerala is the laboratory for the humane development theories of Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for economics (Articles on Sen, 1998 Nobel Prize, Development As Freedom, Atlantic Interview). Committed to income redistribution and universal social services, Kerala built an economy on intensive public education. As the world's most literate state, it earns its hard currency from the export of technical assistance to Gulf nations.

"If you've heard little or nothing of Sen and Kerala, maybe it is because they pose an annoying challenge to the free market consensus" (204).


"..the media is "biased".. their real affiliation is to Hezb'Shekel -- the party of money... scribbling songs of puppy love to the miraculous work of the new breed of get-it-while-you-can CEO centi-millionaires" (207).


"Wal-Mart is the most patriotic flag-waving company in America... until you look under the flags... only 17 percent made-in-the-USA items" (208).

"Wal-Mart.. used incarcerated gangs in Guandong to stitch t-shirts, breaking U.S. law... China is a prison economy... prison factories pay an effective wage of zero.. " (209).

"..the courts rejected Walton's plea for exemption from the U.S. minimum wage...

"When employee Kathleen Baker handed her store manager a petition from eighty workers hoping for a little raise.. she was fired on the spot for theft of the use of the company typewriter...

"In 1994, Linda Regalado was threatened with loss of her job if she continued to talk to fellow "associates" about their right to join a union. She persevered and Wal-Mart made good on its illegal threat...

"..the Fear Factor had become so widespread that the union had no choice but to abandon all hope...

"Wal-Mart [is] fulfilling my nastiest human desire for Cheap and Plenty...

"...Pine Barrens, the last scrap of woodland left on Long Island... Wal-Mart, despite a thousand urban alternatives, insisted on cutting up for its parking lots" (212).

Think Tanks

"Leading the charge against the [Kroto Protocol] treaty is Citizens for a Sound Economy, an ultra-right pressure group" (218).

"The NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council] represents the new wave of environmental organizations enchanted with the use of market mechanisms...

"..NRDC stood with business lobbyists to push both the trade in "pollution credits" and promote deregulation of electricity in California, though the group did a quick flip on deregulation when it flopped" (224).

Corporate Crimes, Deregulation

"America regulates industry like no other nation on Earth -- and for good reason. America tried it the other way, hoping the marketplace would reward enlightened producers and drive out the rogues. Not a chance...

"Andrew Jackson ran for president on the platform of outlawing that dangerous new concoction called the "corporations"" (227).

"Jackson and his ally, Thomas Jefferson, feared this faceless, heartless creature made of stock certificates. Before the advent of the stockholder corporation, business owners had names and faces. They could be held personally accountable for their evils before courts or mobs... But, ran Jackson's manifest, "Corporations have neither bodies to kick nor souls to damn." President Jackson could not stop the corporate dreadnought. Instead... Jackson established government regulation as the means by which the democracy would impose a sense of morality upon these amoral entities" (228).

Tort Reform, Corporate Crimes

"Victims' rights are under attack. Waving the banner of "Tort Reform," corporate America has funded an ad campaign portraying enterpreneurs held hostage by frivolous lawsuits. But proposed remedies stink of special exemptions from justice...

"The tort reformers' line is that fee-hungry lawyers are hawking bogus fears, poisoning Americans' faith in the basic decency of the business community..." (235).

"...the massive increase in litigation has a single cause: a corporate civil crime wave" (233).

Pat Robertson

"..just another Southern-fried Elmer Gantry bigot with a slick line of Lordy-Jesus hoodoo who could hypnotize a couple of million American goobers into turning over their bank accounts..." (238).

"The Wall Street Journal.. described [him as] "a paranoid pinhead with a deep distrust of democracy"...

"..described by one civil liberties organization as "the most dangerous man in America"" (239).

Robertson has "a hidden history of mixing God, gain and Republican campaign.. self-dealing and worse...

" the Operation Blessing funds were used in Africa...

"Through an emotional fundraising drive on his TV station, Robertson raised several million dollars for the tax-free charitable trust. Operation Blessing purchased planes to shuttle medical supplies in and out of the refugee camp in.. Zaire. However... except for one medical flight, the planes were used to haul heavy equipment for something called African Development Corporation, a diamond-mining operation.. owned by Pat Robertson" (240).

"..there is evidence Robertson used Christian Coalition mailing list [illegally] to help political candidates, especially one name Bush... Unprecedented and illegal, said the Federal Elections Commission...

"..staged 1992 "interview" with Bush broadcast on the 700 Club.. a prohibited campaign commercial" (244).

"Christian Coalition president Reed personally destroyed documents subpoenaed by the government... Obstruction of Justice...

"When Liebert complained to Robertson about financial shinanigans at the Coalition, "Pat told me I was unsophisticated"" (245).

"..his palling around with Zhu Rongji, the communist dictator who gleefully jails Christian ministers...

".. associations with deceased Congo strongman Mobutu.." (247).

Exxon Valdez

"On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez broke open and covered twelve hundred miles of Alaska's shoreline with oily sludge.

"The official story remains "Drunken Skipper Hits Reef." Don't believe it.

"Captain Joe Hazelwood was nowhere near the wheel, but belowdecks, sleeping off his bender. The man left at the helm, the third mate, would never have hit Bligh Reef had he simply looked at his Raycas radar. The complex Raycas system costs a lot to operate, so frugal Exxon management left it broken and useless for the entire year before the grounding..." (263).

"...if a ship does smack a reef, all that's needed is to surround the ship with a big rubber curtain ("boom") and suck up the corralled oil. In signed letters to the state government and Coast Guard, BP, ExxonMobil and partners promised that no oil would move unless the equipment was set on the tanker route and the oil-sucker ship ("containment barge") was close by...

"The oil majors fulfilled their promise the cheapest way: They lied. When the Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef, the spill equipment, which could have prevented the catastrophe, wasn't there... And.. the emergency spill-response barge was sitting in a dry dock.." (265).

"Everyone's heard of the big jury verdict against Exxon: a $5 billion award. What you haven't heard is that ExxonMobil hasn't paid a dime of it... It's the number-two lifetime donor to George W. Bush's career (after Enron)" (266).

Think Tanks

NEXUS - neoconservative, British - "LLM ["hottest "inside" lobby group in town"] operates a captive think tank, Nexus, to give their views (or their clients' views) the imprimatur of academic legitimacy" (282).

SOCIALIST ENVIRONMENTAL FOUNDATION - Neoconservative, British - "lefty-sounding.. a purchased front for retailers" (282).


"..Citigroup operations systematically overcharge and underfund poor and minority communities" (338).

Info. Evaluation

To Do: Read the alternative news -- "Internet outlets that don't treat you like a fool" (342)... like the following:


The Utility Reform Network
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network

Globalization Watchdogs

Greg Palast
Citizen's Network On Essential Services
Center For Economic and Policy Research
Global Trade Watch "promotes democracy by challenging corporate globalization"
Resource Center of the Americas Latin American issues
International Forum on Globalization "concern that the world's corporate and political leadership is undertaking a restructuring of global politics and economics that may prove as historically significant as any event since the Industrial Revolution. This restructuring is happening at tremendous speed, with little public disclosure of the profound consequences affecting democracy, human welfare, local economies, and the natural world"

Corporate Crimes

Center for Justice & Democracy "Fighting to protect the right to trial by jury and an independent judiciary for all Americans."
Class Action Law Firm latest news on class action litigation
Prison Privatization Report

Separation of Church and State, Pat Robertson

Americans United For Separation of Church and State

Environmental Disasters

Alaska Forum For Environmental Responsibility "dedicated to holding industry and government accountable"

Fake Science

Center For Science In the Public Interest "to address the corporate and political manipulation of science and scientists to influence public opinion and public policy"

Wal-Mart, McDonald's

Sprawl-Busters "Home town America fights back!!"

Government Accountability Government Accountability Project "promoting government and corporate accountability through advancing occupational free speech and ethical conduct, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists"

Big Banks

National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions "mission is to strengthen the credit unions that serve low-income communities"

Colby Glass, MLIS