Friday, May 4, 2012

So this is how we lose the lead

Paul Krugman's Op-Ed today drove to the heart of the malaise that envelops our economy today:
the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority.
Krugman pointed to the Republican leadership's insensitivity to facts and evidence in their persistent efforts to implement policies that have been demonstrably unsuccessful. He claimed, not implausibly, that such insensitivity was caused by the very wealthiest Americans' support of a cabal of legislators, such support insulating them from public opinion and immunizing them against compromise. I agree with Krugman. One can see the same process at work in the the now largely completed campaign for the Republican nomination. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich stayed in the race far longer than they should have because, in my opinion, they were financed by large contributors: 53.1% and 52.5%, respectively. Rick Santorum, likewise, raised over 49% of his campaign contributions from large donors; he dropped out ostensibly due to health issues with his son. Those with pockets not quite so deep included Rick Perry and Tim Pawlenty, whose big supporters forked over 96% and 99% of total contributions. Jon Huntsman put in $4.1 million of his own money; 86% of the remainder was from big supporters. "Money is speech," or so says the SCOTUS. Not true. Money isn't speech, it's the amplification of speech. I may be able to contribute, say, $150 to a candidate whose ideology matches mine. But what voice do I have against, say, the invisible contributors of Restore Our Future, who have poured $51,904,973 into Mitt Romney's campaign? Even Barack Obama's large contributions comprise 56.5% of his total campaign contributions, although, in all fairness, these contributions aren't coming from super-PAC's, by and large. We, the people, and the voice guaranteed us by the U.S. Constitution are being drowned out by the enormous amplification and mega-speakers of corporate America and the super-rich. It is their agenda to which Congress and most of our entire Government is marching. So, how do we correct this mess? I have a few ideas. First, restrict campaign contributions to registered voters. Second, establish a panel of, say, five non-partisan organizations to declare an advertising spot "issue-oriented," within 7 days of its release or half the interval between its release and the election of a candidate whose platform is supported or opposed, whichever is lesser; Third, require that the source of funds for all issue-oriented advertising identify the registered voter(s) or corporation(s) that contributed such funds. Fourth, define the use of cascading corporations for the purpose of concealing campaign contributions or issue-oriented expenditures to be money-laundering, with appropriate penalties. If I've left anything out, please advise.

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