This blog was originally posted in November of 2007, re-printed this date.
Government is not so complicated. It’s just corrupt
One only has to monitor the illegal immigration fiasco to realize the extent of debauchery that prevails in the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Beyond that, the war in Iraq, the global war on terror, issues with environment, crime, gun control, pharmaceuticals, taxes and social security, energy, pork spending, and on and on.
Keeping it simple, but not stupid, the problems can be boiled down to a common denominator: Political fund raising.
We can talk about soft money and hard money, lobbyists and all the loopholes, but it all equates to this: When an individual, corporation or special interest group donates huge amounts of money to a political campaign, it’s for one purpose: To buy influence. The more the contribution, the more the influence. Anyone who thinks that such influence is intended to improve conditions for American citizens is living on the planet Mars. It’s to promote one’s business. For politicians, it’s to gain and retain power.
The tobacco industry didn’t pour zillions into Washington over sixty years because of political idealism, it was to lower their taxes, up their sales, secure subsidies and profits. Senators, congressmen and presidents who sanctioned such depravity knew that would necessitate a lot of smokers. By enticing the nicotine habit into multi-millions of Americans, the medical profession and pharmaceutical industries have benefitted as well, with hundreds of millions more suffering from cancer, heart disease, and emphysema.
Illegal immigration? Agriculture is a major lobby, as is the restaurant and hotel industry. So is construction. They have poured millions into political funding for a single purpose: to secure favors from Washington in order to inflate profits. Their greatest ally has been this administration and as a result, we have a worsened situation six years after September 11th, 2001.
The problem was summed up by Chicago Times columnist John O’Sullivan who wrote, “In the years 1995 to 1997, there were 10,000 to 18,000 work-site arrests of illegals, while 1,000 employers were served notice of fines for employing them. In 2004, under the Bush administration, work site arrests dropped to 159, and only three employers were served notice of intent to fine.”
Politicians can babble on about humanitarianism and welcoming the huddled masses, but the bottom line is clear as fresh greenback dollars. Hotels, motels, restaurants, and other service industries make huge profits by hiring lower wage employees. When employers are given defacto immunity for violating the law, out-of-control illegal immigration is the result.
Today, we hear an accented voice from East India when we call customer service about a problem with our credit card? Those companies made handsome profits before, but now that they’ve secured the favor of Washington and hire foreign employees for sweat-shop wages, their profits can double and triple. American jobs are outsourced while consumer service declines.
This president did not veto one spending bill in his first six years in office despite billions in unnecessary earmarks tacked on for special interests. Senator McCain calls that “pork barrel” add-ons. It is nothing other than corruption disguised as government, as senators, congressmen and the president pay back favors to those who helped them get into office.
I cringe every time I hear a politician say they are voting in the best interest of all Americans.
President Dwight Eisenhower had warned us back in 1959, to beware of the military industrial complex because the rationality for future wars may depend on political influence and mega profits within the industry of war materials. When we see that over $450 billion has been expended thus far, and private companies such as Halliburton have reaped the spoils, one wonders what the true reasons were behind the unprovoked invasion. The cost to mainstream America? 3,800 lives and 13,000 maimed for life. That’s without mentioning a hundred thousand of Iraqi dead, and two million displaced.
When a local cop accepts five hundred dollars a month to look the other way from a neighborhood crack house, that’s illegal. When a politician accepts money/and or favors to support laws to allow the outsourcing of jobs for lower wages, that’s legal. Call it anything you want, the moral equivalent remains. It both translates to bribery.
The difference is that the lawmakers can pass legislation that allows them to do anything they wish, most of which falls under the umbrella of “lobbying” or “support.” It still translates to the taking of money and favors in exchange for special consideration.
Lawmakers and lobbyists justify all this by hiding behind the protection of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. That’s nothing more than convoluting semantics for personal gain.
I seriously doubt this what Jefferson and Madison had in mind for honest government.
The solution? Well, if I could wave the magic wand and fix it all in one clean swoop, here’s what I would do.
All contributions and fund raising on the federal level should be deemed illegal. No money, no favors, no pleasure trips by lobbyists, no fancy dinners, no free tickets to sporting events and no party times. Not one politician should owe one business enterprise or special interest group a favor. If a candidate wants to pay out-of-pocket, that’s fine.
According the IRS estimates, there were 135 million tax returns submitted in 2006. If every taxpayer paid twenty dollars into a pool for political campaign funds, divided equitably among all major candidates in all federal elections, that would yield $2.70 billion, far more than enough to divvy up between the 468 congressional elections each year, and a presidential race every four years. That twenty bucks is a worthwhile investment for Americans to keep our government honest. That twenty bucks will keep our House members working on behalf of Americans during their two-year terms, instead of attending fund raisers day after day. That twenty bucks will put the lobbyists in the public eye instead of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. That twenty bucks will force politicians to act in our behalf, not in behalf of the almighty dollar.
I challenge anyone to say it’s not doable.
Will it happen? That would require the Washington establishment to legislate their own honesty. (ahem)
Twenty bucks a year — for honest, representative government. That’s a family trip to McDonalds or a date at the movies.
So easy, yet so complicated.