matt stoller

matt stoller

intro’d to Matt via aaron swartz – internet’s own boy


found in naked capitalism via being curious about Matt:

Aaron Swartz’s Politics

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Matt Stoller

Aaron Swartz was my friend, and I will always miss him. I think it’s important that, as we remember him, we remember that Aaron had a much broader agenda than the information freedom fights for which he had become known. Most people have focused on Aaron’s work as an advocate for more open information systems, because that’s what the Feds went after him for, and because he’s well-understood as a technologist who founded Reddit and invented RSS. But I knew a different side of him. I knew Aaron as a political activist interested in health care, financial corruption, and the drug war (we were working on a project on that just before he died).

a qr – deep enough, simple enough, open enough

He was a great technologist, for sure, but when we were working together that was not all I saw.

In 2009, I was working in Rep. Alan Grayson’s office as a policy advisor. We were engaged in fights around the health care bill that eventually became Obamacare, as well as a much narrower but significant fight on auditing the Federal Reserve that eventually became a provision in Dodd-Frank. Aaron came into our office to intern for a few weeks to learn about Congress and how bills were put together. He worked with me on organizing the campaign within the Financial Services Committee to pass the amendment sponsored by Ron Paul and Alan Grayson on transparency at the Fed. He helped with the website, a site dedicated to publicizing the 44,000 Americans that die every year because they don’t have health insurance. Aaron learned about Congress by just spending time there, which seems like an obvious thing to do. Many activists prefer to keep their distance from policymakers, because they are afraid of the complexity of the system and believe that it is inherently corrupting. Aaron, as with much of his endeavors, simply let his curiosity, which he saw as synonymous with brilliance, drive him.  [in link: words of advice: 

Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.


Aaron suffered from depression, but that is not why he died. Aaron is dead because the institutions that govern our society have decided that it is more important to target geniuses like Aaron than nurture them, because the values he sought – openness, justice, curiosity – are values these institutions now oppose. In previous generations, people like Aaron would have been treasured and recognized as the remarkable gifts they are. We do not live in a world like that today. And Aaron would be the first to point out, if he could observe the discussion happening now, that the pressure he felt from the an oppressive government is felt by millions of people, every year. I’m glad his family have not let the justice system off the hook, and have not allowed this suicide to be medicalized, or the fault of one prosecutor. What happened to Aaron is not isolated to Aaron, but is the flip side of the corruption he hated.

As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako – who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.

He was a profoundly kind man, and I will now never be able to repay him for the love and kindness he showed me.

unless you/we can…

via cure city ness – curiosity as cure.


.. a call for a different world, not just protecting our ability to access web sites.

 a people experiment – re\wire


naked capitalism site:


Naked Capitalism is not for the fainthearted.

Over time, I’ve come to conceive of Naked Capitalism as an effort to promote critical thinking through the medium of a finance and economics blog. In December 2006, I started writing because there was an obvious underreporting in the US of the severity and extent of the underpricing of risk in all credit instruments. It didn’t take any great insight to recognize that. It’s hard to state emphatically enough how obvious it was to someone with reasonable financial markets experience who simply read the Financial Times and Bloomberg that the official narrative was a crock.


sept 2014:

I wrote a piece on how classification systems are screwing up our policy vis-a-vis ISIS.

Original Tweet:


oct 2014 via Russel Brand:

Matt’s ideas to change things up:

no more security

no more titles

labels ness


nov 2014:

Excellent post-election analysis by @matthewstoller on the real reasons the Democrats got crushed

Original Tweet:

organize. around ideas..


from Russell‘s revolution:

ch 10 – ich bin ein monarch

p 90 – prof slingerland  – “..capitalist consumer culture inures us to unfairness.”

my belief is that all conflicts, though, are about resources or territory and the theological rhetoric merely a garnish to make it more palatable.


i first met matt in zuccotti par, manhattan, in the middle of the occupy wall street protest in 2011.

dang. at occupy.

.. at the time he worked for the govt… he told me the establishment was afraid of occupy. they were afraid because, typically, protests are backed by nonprofit organizations, themselves accountable to foundation who have boards who have members who can be harassed and intimidated. occupy doesn’t work like that. it is a spontaneous, leaderless co-operative, and that makes it harder to squash.

p 92 – i asked mark for ideas that would aid revolution; … “no more private security for the wealthy and the powerful, …. one economist argued in 2005 that roughly one in four americans is employed to guard in various forms the wealth of the rich. so if you want to get rid of rich and poor get rid of guard labor… the definition of being rich means having more stuff than other people. in order to have more stuff, you need to protect that stuff  with surveillance systems, guards, police, court systems, and so forth…..america employs more private security guards than high school teachers. …when there’s inequality, there’s got to be someone making sure, with force, that it stays that way.”

.. all are encompassed by this system (rich and poor) and none of us are free while it endures.

his next idea: get rid of all the titles.. “these are all titles that capitalism relies on to justify treating some people better than other people…. if they aren’t allowed to be dominant, to be shown as being dominant, then the system cannot long be sustained.”


find/follow Matt:

link twitter

his site:

About Matt Stoller

Matt Stoller has a background in financial journalism. From 2011-2012, he was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and an editor of the financial site Naked Capitalism. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson.


money ness



To put it a different way, this is why our gov’t and cultural institutions are having increasing trouble ‘thinking’.…

On the one hand, money is required to assemble the data and narratives necessary to present policy options. On the other hand, money can also, in and of itself, corrupt those ideas.

let’s try this.. short bp..


All think tanks, public or private, claim independence of judgment, just as politicians assert that their judgment is independent of financial considerations. Still, financial influence is pervasive, especially in complex areas requiring detailed study.


The problem isn’t the Fed’s financing of research into monetary policy, or Google’s financing of privacy research. The problem is a lack of diversity in the financing sources in these topics. And this, as well as influence peddling, is the problem. Increasingly, the development of policy ideas in any specific field is monopolized by a small number of funders. Researchers have fewer potential options for financing, so there’s less interesting work done. Entire better pathways of innovation and policy making are choked off before they ever really have a chance to develop. The ultimate result is that all research quality, even that with financial support, suffers, and policy options narrow in a way that threatens democracy.


There will always be instances of corruption, but the system will work if we ensure that no concentration of power becomes overwhelming. There should be multiple public streams, from different agencies and branches of government. And we should strive to keep corporations *small and competitive to ensure a diversity of perspectives within the private space. The development of good policy demands the reduction of specific conflicts of interest and the maintenance of so much diversity of financing that the public interest **emerges. As revolutionary era weaver-turned-politician William Findley put it, “Wealth in ***many hands operates as many checks.” It also produces good ideas.

*ginorm small.. and not competitive..

on need to allow for **emergence..

let’s go for ***all the hands..


via fb share by April

“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can’t have both.” – SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis

One of the most powerful, insightful and instructive pieces I’ve read.Why isn’t this included in US History & Civics classes today? We can start (re)learning today. The answers are in our hands… if we only ask and look.

The story of Patman’s ousting is part of the larger story of how the Democratic Party helped to create today’s shockingly disillusioned and sullen public, a large chunk of whom is now marching for Donald Trump.


Packaged together, these measures epitomized the idea that citizens must be able to govern themselves through their own community structures, or as Walt Whitman put it: “train communities through all their grades, beginning with individuals and ending there again, to rule themselves.” Patman’s ideals represented a deep understanding that sovereign citizens governing sovereign communities were the only protection against demagoguery.

snowden private in public law


As 1960s activists became 1970s politicians, they had to develop a political-economic framework to deal with inflation and corporate failures. And this is where the young Democrats’ intellectual journey took a turn. While an older, increasingly feeble generation was arguing that the problem lay in monopoly and banking power, several leading thinkers on both the right and the left provided a new explanation.

perhaps real problem.. that we kept assuming money as os


Ending the threat of authoritarianism is not a left-wing or right-wing problem, and the solution does not reside in building a bigger or a smaller government. Restoring political stability means *structuring society’s public and corporate institutions so they can be governed by human beings and communities. It means protecting the **property rights of citizens and not confusing property with arbitrary tollbooths erected by tech billionaires. And it means understanding that ***protecting competitive markets and preventing concentrations of power are essential components of democracy.

*ie: host-life-bits – a nother way

perhaps.. **property rights and ***competition are also part of what’s getting in the way.. let go.. and go deeper


glenn and jaron and matt and vint

There is a great deal of wisdom here. Depression is clearly up in many countries as part of the internet age, and while correlation isn’t causation, it seems clear part of it is causation. The internet promised greater connectedness but in many key ways it produced the opposite:

Original Tweet:

@ggreenwald I would distinguish between the internet and social media

Original Tweet:

begs we give ourselves a do over.. and use internet as it could be..

ie: 2 convos.. as infra

cc @vgcerf