There has been a lot of talk this election year about election reform and the undue influence of special interest groups in both the election process and the passage of legislation. John McCain, and by extension the Republican Party, have claimed to be champions of these reforms, especially in the area of lobbyist influence. But, as the quote below from the Associated Pess clearly shows, all their talk is just that – empty talk/ The GOP seems to have forgotten that actions speak louder than words. and this latest action by a member of the GOP speaks volumes.
Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.
Lest you all forget, all these government bailouts are debts that we, the American taxpayers, will have to pay. If anyone seriously thinks that the corporate beneficiaries of these government handouts will repay the money they get, I want some of whatever you have been smoking.
The government has no problem going after individual dead-beats, e.g., hard-working Americans who have trouble paying back their federally subsidized student loans or mortgages, even to the point of garnishing their wages or foreclosing on their homes or auctioning off their assets. After all, we are not able to make sizable contributions to their campaign coffers or pay $500 for a photo op with a Republican bigwig at a fundraiser.
But the corporate recipients and their CEOs certainly can afford to do and they have a long history of doing so. In return, these corporations have a great deal of influence with the elected officials who benefit from these contributions, or to use the proper name for these financial transactions, these bribes.
The net effect of this system of legalized bribery is three-gold:
The crooked politicians who accept these bribes get to stay in office, where they do not represent the will of the people who elected them, but rather the will of the interest groups that bought them.
The corporations get to continue their mismanagement, their flaunting of public trust, their refusal to make changes that would be beneficial to the American consumer but detrimental to their profits.
The average American gets screwed, paying higher taxes, higher prices and getting less for his money.
I want to cite two examples of what I am talking about:
If the automobile manufacturers really cared about the American consumer, the people who buy their cars, they would design and build cars that either used a renewable fuel source, or cars that were considerably more fuel efficient. But that would mean completely retooling their plants, probably re-training their employees and sacrificing all of those obscene profits they have made for years.Instead, they beg the government for loans so they can continue to produce their gas-guzzlers while laying off thousands of their employees, the very people who will have to foot the bill for those loans that will never be repaid.
If the tobacco companies really cared about the American consumer, the people like me who are forced to buy their products to which we are addicted, thanks to the additives the tobacco companies use in manufacturing their products and which are slowly killing us, they would quit growing tobacco, stop making tobacco products, and set up free addiction treatment centers to help us overcome our addiction. Instead of tobacco, they could grow corn, and instead of making cigarettes, they could make ethanol. a renewable fuel. But that would cost them their obscene profits they have become accustomed to. Instead, they continue to endanger our health, costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars for health care for those fighting the health consequences of smoking.
It is time to remove any and all corporate political funding. There needs to be real and enforced limits on how much a candidate can spend on a campaign. There needs to be real and enforced limits on how much any entity, individual or corporate, can contribute to a candidate or a party. All lobbying needs to be eliminated and PACs and “shadow” groups need to be outlawed.
As Barack Obama has proven in the primary races, and to a large extent in the general election campaign, it is possible to raise considerable amounts of money from small donors. Limiting campaign expenditures would make that type of fund raising more than sufficient.
Finally, eliminate the current ratepayer funding of elections. If a candidate cannot raise sufficient funds from his supporters, then that candidate obviously does not have enough support to win election to anything. Let the laws of supply and demand decide who is a viable candidate.
I do realize that in the world of realpolitik that dominates our current political system this will not happen unless the American taxpayers stand up and say enough is enough. At one time, I truly thought that things in the year 2008 would be different than they are now. Forty years ago I believed that my generation, as they got older and gained power, would be the agent for change that would help this country fulfill at least some of its tremendous potential. Unfortunately, so many of my peers have been co-opted by the system they once swore to change. I still dream of them regaining their idealism and becoming those agents of change, but, realistically, I think it will be up to the younger generations to fulfill that dream. Hopefully, they will learn a lesson from all of this.