Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Rot, the Stench and the Filth of Campaign Finance & How to Fix It.




Political activists of every ideological stripe have one thing in common:  they all bitterly complain about campaign finance.  They have a legitimate gripe.  In fact, American elections are not only a disgraceful fraud, they constitute a moral affront to our election system at all levels - federal, state and local.  It is indeed a most tragic consequence that the Republicans and Democrats have a lock on nearly 100% of all political money that fuels endless wars, corporatism, Banksters Gone Wild and the wholesale destruction of the prosperity of the people.

There is no way that America can ever achieve transparency in governance without transparency in the political money that drives the Republican and Democrat money machines.  Effectively, both the RNC and DNC are really nothing more than wholly owned subsidiaries and money laundering operations of the banksters, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex and the fascist rent seeking crony capitalists.  On a more repugnant level, a ton of political money raised in the US is undisclosed and comes from political action committees (PAC's), bundling and other legal avenues that provide the legal framework for special interests and corporations to control and massively consolidate all money and power.

Americans vote and participate in the election scam to varying degrees based on the flawed presumption that We the People are in charge and make the decisions.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  The stark reality is that America's primary and election systems are rigged for the exclusive benefit of special interests.  We the People simply don't have the money to compete the with big special interest money, bankster money, defense contractor money, corporate money, PAC money and bundler money.

If We the People are ever going to control the government by asserting our We the People power, fund raising must be changed, it must be open and it must be transparent.

The first step is to outlaw all direct and indirect corporate contributions, all PAC's, all bundling, all RNC and DNC funding raising powers and all state and county Republican and Democrat party fundraising.

What will be left?  Only We the People can contribute to a candidate and we can only contribute directly to the campaign of the candidate running for office.  Precisely because the RNC, the DNC, state parties and PAC's/bundlers are bought and paid for by special interests, they should never have the power to raise money.

Moreover, all contributions to a candidate must be disclosed on the candidate's website and have ZERO limitations on the amount contributed.

Political money is only reported quarterly and most of the dirty money isn't disclosed until the January after the November election.

If a candidate can get the check to the bank, he/she can and must report it on its campaign website in real time.  Furthermore, every website of every candidate running for public office should be required to have a financial disclosure link not only in real time but also from the highest contribution amount to the lowest.

Do I care if George Soros gives a billion to Obama or a Democrat candidate?  Hell NO, so long as it's disclosed in real time.  Do I care if the Koch Brothers gives a billion to Romney?  Hell NO, so long as it's disclosed in real time.  Even folks with gobs of money absolutely have the right to fund the candidate of their choice.

If voters can actually see in real time the source of a candidate's political money, will that affect how they vote?  Damn right it will.

In the 2008 election cycle, the top 10 corporate PAC contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, were as follows:

Obama: Goldman Sachs $739,521, UBS AG $419,550, Lehman Brothers $391,774, Citigroup Inc $492,548, Morgan Stanley $341,380, Latham & Watkins $328,879, Google Inc $487,355 JPMorgan Chase & Co $475,112, Sidley Austin LLP $370,916, Skadden, Arps et al $360,409 

McCain: Merrill Lynch $349,170, Citigroup Inc $287,801, Morgan Stanley $249,377 Wachovia Corp $147,456, Goldman Sachs $220,045, Lehman Brothers $115,707, Bear Stearns $108,000, JPMorgan Chase & Co $206,392, Bank of America $133,975, Credit Suisse Group $175,503.

If the voters knew and understood the vast influence and power the banksters have in the rigged election game, would that swing their voting habits? Since attacking Wall Street for the crime syndicate that it is has become a hot issue, politicians would be running away from bankster money and not toward it if political candidates were forced to pay a ballot box price for accepting bankster money, as well as other special interest money.

There is also the issue lobbying and its monetary influence far exceeds campaign contribution influence. Opensecrets.org reports the top spenders on lobbying for 2008 were:

US Chamber of Commerce $91,725,000
Exxon Mobil $29,000,000
AARP $27,900,000
PG&E Corp $27,250,000
Northrop Grumman $20,743,252
American Medical Assn $20,555,000
Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $20,220,000
Koch Industries $20,023,000
General Electric $19,379,000
American Hospital Assn $18,902,684
Verizon Communications $18,020,000
Boeing Co $17,540,000
National Assn of Realtors $17,340,000
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $16,220,165
Lockheed Martin $15,981,506
AT&T Inc $15,076,675
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $14,500,000
Southern Co $14,080,000
Altria Group $13,840,000
General Motors $13,351,000

They don’t sprinkle that kind of dough around the District of Crime without getting big paybacks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is so powerful that it outspent the #2 biggest spender on lobbying by a margin of over 3:1 with a whopping $92 million. What the Chamber of Commerce gets for its $92 million investment is the ability to load up America with cheap third world labor that drives American wages down while shifting the social costs of impoverished “slave” wage earners to the unemployed, broke and suffering American taxpayers. Basically, it's the systematic wipe out of the American middle class.

The Banksters are always lavishly rewarded for their campaign contributions. Barry Ritholtz, a financial author and pundit, who runs the website Ritholtz.com, put out quite an enlightening article after the 2008 election that calculated TARP money (Bankster Bailout Bucks) as a return on lobbyist dollars spent and campaign contributions. The Ritholtz list (prints to 7 pages) listed the banks that received TARP money and included political contributions and lobbying expenditures to arrive at a return on investment.

Campaign Contributions: $37.4 million
Lobbying Expenses: $76.6 million
TARP Payment: $305.2 billion
Return on Investment: 267,208%

There are a gazillion other special interest groups that are also engaged in the “pay to play” game at the DC Wheel of Fortune. With a $3.7 trillion pie, those seeking a slice or a crumb descend upon the pie like hoards of hungry cockroaches.

Wall Street and the banksters are far from the only larcenous and felonious gang of plunderers at the taxpayers gate nor are they the only financiers of political campaigns and lobbying. Defense contractors and rent seeking corporations demanding subsidies, loan guarantees, protectionism and monopoly rank quite high and are extremely powerful influences. Entire industries like Big Agriculture and Big Pharm are major power brokers in the Pay to Play Game that reigns supreme in the District of Crime and within our own state legislative bodies and city councils.

Most Congress Critters and politicians spend their taxpayer funded time hanging out with special interest lobbyists and favor seeking campaign contributors although most voters don't know it. We the People have become We the Sheeple and we are laughed at and mocked by those in power, except on election day when the lying politicians pledge their undying love to the downtrodden and suffering people.

There are other things that must also be accomplished to facilitate transparency and accountability of public officials. Since public officials are presently beholden to those will fill their campaign coffers, and never the voters, I consider it absolutely imperative that public officials at all levels (federal, state, city and county) be required by appropriate federal or state laws to publish their calendars on their websites. We the People elect these turkeys and we absolutely have the right to know who they are hanging out with while on the taxpayers payroll. We might be shocked at how fast the political class starts running from lobbyists, banksters, defense contractors and corporations.

Another huge problem that massively contributes to political corruption is the assignment of committee members.  Studies have proven that the longer a Congress Critter or other elected official sits on a committee, the greater the probability of corruption.  Special interests are notorious for active participation in committee assignments.

It's not unusual for a newly elected Congress Critter to march off to the District of Crime with conviction that they will make a difference.  That never happens because 1.  the newly elected are almost always bought and paid for and/or 2. the corrupt system favors reliable team plays who can consistently deliver the demands of special interests.

The solution to committee longevity and cronyism is to abolish the 'good old boy' system of patronage and seniority and replace it with a simple random drawing for committee assignments as well as a 2 year limit on any committee.  This will serve to weaken iron clad command and control party rule that so devastates our political system and will refresh the practice of independent thinking.

When Congress was created, it wasn't created with the mandate that seniority rules.  All congress critters are supposed to be EQUAL in power.  But that's not how the system works; the system works for the exclusive benefit of the power obsessed corrupt relics who have been there the longest.

Finally, OpenSecrets.org reported that the cost of the 2012 presidential election was $2.3 billion, with the Obama campaign spending $1.1 billion and the Romney campaign spending $1.2 billion, here.  Astoundingly, it's been reported that the entire 2012 election cycle cost $6 billion.  The only difference between the 2008 figures and special interest contributions and the 2012 figures is that the big money players remained the same while the monetary numbers increased.

For Americans who fret over political corruption and corrupt political money, nothing will ever change until the big money is legally vanquished from the system and transparency on steroids restores power to We the People.  So long as banksters, defense contractors and special interests control the political money, there really isn't even a reason to vote unless a vote is cast for a 3rd party candidate.

2 comments:

  1. The first thing to understand is money given to or extorted by political campaigns is not primarily to influence people to vote for one candidate over all others. The primary function of election spending is to sustain the notion that people are governed by their own consent. They are not. Arcane and arbitrary election laws foreclose any possibility of free choice through a ballot.
    The American "election" system would function just as it has for more than a century if only the names of the screened and preened candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties were put in a hat and a name was drawn to "elect" the officeholder. In other words, campaign money really makes no difference in the overall make up and fealty of officeholders. Campaign spending could be zero and the same aggregate interests would still be in control of the State.
    My conclusion is that all restrictions on campaign finance should be abolished. Let the elites spend all they want on propaganda touting "democracy" and "consent."
    The path to undermining this authoritarian system is opening up the ballot to all adults. Let a thousand candidates bloom. But that is no enough either.
    There are too few officeholders lording it over to many adults. For example, why should 700,000 people have just one "representative" in the Congress. That's the same as no representative at all. Reduce the ratio to like one "representative" per 30,000 adults.If the count is honest, then at least a plurality of those people would have some kind of influence for a couple of years in Congress.
    But that is not enough either. When, where and how ballots are counted needs to be local, open and transparent to the world. For every precinct of 1,000 adults, the count should be done in the precinct by the people of the precinct and the process streamed via live video to the world.
    There are other issues but that is sufficient in this context.
    My point is that even those changes are not enough to subdue the overlords. The right of a body of some number of adults to secede from any government must be accepted as the essence of government by consent. Could a precinct of 1,000 adults secede and form their own republic? Why not? Why not a confederation of micro-republics with that same right of secession?
    My appraisal of campaign finance prohibitions is that its only purpose is to entrench the system of oligarchy American like to fantasize is a constitutional republic.

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  2. Your response is confusing and advocates for more of the same - big special interest money controlling politics. If we need change to achieve transparency in political money then something has got to change.

    I'm in no way suggesting the the idiot voters will ever vote for liberty, even if the influence of special interest money is reduced.

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