When did we as a society decide that business people and lobbyists were the best people to govern us? When did the idea of legislating and governing get confused with making profit? Why does it seem that our government and culture in general is being molded and crafted by focus groups and corporations? Is there any way to stop this spiral into inevitable destruction?
Politics and politicians being corrupted by money is an idea about as old as humanity itself. I’m sure back in the day… ohhhhh… circa 100,000 B.C…. Ogg had turned to Gogg and offered him first choice of his daughters if he simply let his family forage on his land more often than their neighbor Trog (by the way… Trog is a bit of a jerk… don’t feel bad for him). But lately it seems a bit out of hand. I half expect to see Nascar like sponser decals on our senators and representatives.
Let me make the distinction between state and federal in this argument… I will probably be thinking more about federal, however, being in California… this is probably a greater problem. More on this later.
The recent Supreme Court decision on Citizen’s United (the recent law stating that corporations are viewed as individual persons in they eyes of the law, therefore they are allowed to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns) overturned over a century of precedent in lifting all controls put in place to tether corporations so that they could not have undo influence on elections. Now, we could have one candidate who brings in $2 million to campaign with… to run ads on TV, to put door hangers on doors, radio spots, etc. He may be the environmentalist who is trying to rein in the oil refineries in his district. Well… another candidate who brings in $1 million in campaign funds says “I like big oil… I won’t create any new regulations… I’ll help business by untying your hands from that evil government (of which I wish to be a part of)”. That oil company no longer has to put out it’s own ads saying “we support candidate 2 because he kisses ass the bestest” and have to put “paid for by big oil people” scrawling at the bottom of the ad. Now they simply have to say, “here you go… have $15 million for your campaign”. And now the oil candidate can plaster the district with his ads… and the environmentalist can’t. That’s a very rudimentary way of looking at the problem. (You may be thinking I’m being unfair, since money has corrupted people on the left as well as the right… and you would be correct…. but as far as large corporate donations are concerned, I would guess this will lean very heavily into the more conservative, big business crowd… I don’t imagine a corporation like Patagonia spreading lies about how clean coal is)
So now we get politicians completely, and legally, paid and bought by corporate interests. And somehow or another… and I’m amazed at how these guys do it… they start complaining about job loss… and extending Bush tax cuts because we need to help small business… and how bad any form of welfare is… and the amazing part is that they manage to convince good, hard working, poor American’s to go along with this rhetoric. Get them to agree that we need to stop those Democrats from making business hard in the US by putting in place regulations to save the environment, or safety… to stop them from over taxing the small businesses. The fact that those regulations save lives as evidenced by the mine disasters and the Deepwater Horizon (again… concession that some regulations can be over the top and these should be eliminated, but overall I’m very pro regulation) and the fact that most small businesses do not make over $250K a year, thus not qualifying them for Bush tax cuts. These tax cuts are for the very wealthy… not for most people… and not for small businesses. Why are the poor sticking up for the very rich?? How does this happen. I’m not saying the rich are bad. But I don’t think they are so special as to deserve all the loopholes they are given… given, mind you… not earned! Do people realize that under Eisenhower the highest tax bracket for the very rich was taxed at 91%… today we whine and cry “Obama is Hitler” because he wants that highest bracket to pay 39% as opposed to 35%. All that bluster about capital gains taxes…. 15%. Thats it. So why are the poorest and least educated of us screaming horrible things and weeping tears over having those with so much give back a bit… not for social justice… not for economic justice… simply because they can. For all of those people in the world who would if they could… there are some who can and simply won’t. Then turn around and call themselves “good Christians”..
And why in California (and elsewhere of course) have we completely lost are marbles and keep turning to business people?? Whatever happened to people in government who were educated in history and law… in political sciences… people who were invested in community and education? Now we have a former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina who shipped 30,000 jobs overseas and almost ran HP into the ground wanting to be our junior US Senator. We have Meg Whitman… former CEO of Ebay. I think I heard correctly that Ebay had a party when she was canned…. perhaps that was Carly. Either way… two business people who did horribly in their positions… now wanting to “save” California. Save it from what? Tons of abuse, corruption, partisanship, special interests and sadly… worst of all… the people of California. I am not really a fan of our proposition method of direct governance. It could work…. but people need to be better informed. And sadly, when given the choice to either better our situation or help everyone else… we think about ourselves. Prop 8 being the more recent and egregious failure on the part of the “majority” here in California… Prop 13 being the other. Yes, I said it… I don’t like Prop 13! I believe it had a very good and nobel cause… but like most things, it is now abused and is simply draining California’s coffers… and destroying public education in the state.
And what else did we the people do? Well… we spent millions to recall Gray Davis because of a $300 licensing fee on new cars, so we could get Arnold. Nice try Arnie, but you are an actor. And we (meaning other people.. not me dammit) bought into your gimmick… hook, line and sinker. Why did people vote for him? He’s a good business man!! They will balance budgets… they will be fiscally responsible… they will… they will… they will…. bankrupt us financially and morally!! We will turn a blind eye to the needy… we will shun those that come here looking for a better way of life… we will turn on our very values at the drop of a hat if we can cling to our hateful beliefs…. we will do everything we can to make ourselves the worst we can be… then turn an accusatory finger towards someone else and blame them… or them… or her.. or him. Never yourself… never ourselves. It’s shameful.
So what can be done? Money is ingrained in everything. It’s become part of our system. So what can be done? Perhaps we need to change the system. Perhaps we need to change the very grain of the wood it is ingrained in…. Perhaps the United States 2.0. A constitution that reflects the best of what is found in that great document… the best in what we’ve learned over the past 230+ years… and the best of where we want to go. I do not believe our founding fathers were directed by the hand of God… I do not believe in a God… but I do believe they were extremely intelligent men who understood the importance of compromise and self awareness. How could you regulate and self regulate without self awareness… and perhaps this is the trait we seem to have the least of these days… We don’t seem to know when we are acting against our own interests. We seem a bit too easily swayed. Too many people who think they are better than others because they don’t read the news, or follow what’s going on in government… or others who will only look at one side of an argument. You don’t have to agree… just look at it.
Well… enough of that rant.. I’m sure more will come as this election season approaches….
Throwing your money in the trash…
Cornelius J. Blahg