(NaturalNews) For years now, Americans have sensed that something is wrong with their political system but couldn't quite put their finger on what it is.
Granted, most know about the things that make the news - the NSA spying scandal, the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation, the IRS targeting of Tea Party organizations during the 2012 election cycle and so on.
But it's the stuff that doesn't get reported - the political underbelly, so to speak - that really has Americans concerned. They know something deeper is amiss, but what, exactly?
A new book by Peter Schweizer explains what has heretofore yet to be explained to the body politic.
The book, titled "Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets," is currently #8 on The New York Times bestseller list. Here is a summary of accounts about the book, what it explains, what it identifies and, most importantly, what it all means for us, the hapless electorate.
-- New York Times: In his own words, Schweizer writes:
We have long assumed that the infestation of special interest money in Washington is at the root of so much that ails our politics. But what if we've had it wrong? What if instead of being bribed by wealthy interests, politicians are engaged in a form of legal extortion designed to extract campaign contributions?
Consider this: of the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year, only roughly 5 percent become law. Why do legislators bother proposing so many bills? What if many of those bills are written not to be passed but to pressure people into forking over cash?
This is exactly what is happening. Politicians have developed a dizzying array of legislative tactics to bring in money.
-- Forbes: Writes Alejandro Chafuen:
The explosive growth in government regulations impose huge costs on productive activities. The arbitrary way in which they are enforced causes more insidious damage. It corrodes the rule of law and creates serious distrust on the merits of winners and losers in the market place. In addition, this "arbitrary" enforcement does not take place randomly. It is not the product of chance. It is the result of political machines that have perfected the art of extortion.
During the last few years we have seen a rise in the concern for cronyism. It is the sole focus of the group Against Crony Capitalism. Cronyism can be defined as "legal" corruption. Schweizer writes that, "in Washington today corruption is driven more by extortion than by bribery." Extortion, unless done by the government, is usually criminal. Cronyism, giving favors to friends, is not criminal. It becomes a policy, rather than a private matter, when the favors are granted by government.
-- National Journal: Writes Billy House:
Schweizer advances a novel argument: Rather than special-interest money in Washington being funneled to politicians in order to gain access and favor, politicians run government in ways designed to extract special-interest money from various constituencies. He also says that the notion that Washington dysfunction is a product of partisanship and ideological entrenchment can be looked at in a different light: that gridlock, legislative threats, and fear of uncertainty help prime the donation pump.
"It's one of the oldest and most effective forms of extortion: the protection racket," he writes in one chapter. "Pay me money and I will promise not to make your life miserable. Fail to pay and bad things will happen to you."
Schweizer writes that that has been the "bread and butter" of organized crime for centuries, but that "the Permanent Political Class in Washington plays the protection racket, too. Failure to pay will not get you killed - but it could kill your business."