Monday, June 11, 2012
Money can't buy me love, but maybe an election!
Since the Wisconsin recall election, we've been hearing a lot about how money 'buys' elections, but it's been an ongoing debate. This is also the topic in the 'corporations are people' supreme court ruling in citizen's united. If there is anything we all agree with, it is that we need more election campaign finance reform.. tighter rules regarding donations.. some kind of accountability with PACs, or the balancing of special interests vs the people as a whole.
1. Is 'campaign finance reform' just smoke & mirrors for keeping election finances obscure? Is it each side jockeying for position so their side has the advantage? Can there be true transparency with politicians & those who back them?
2. Will the american people buy distortions in slick media campaigns, or do they see through the bias & investigate things on their own? Do the bigger spenders always win the elections, or at least most of the time?
3. Is whining about election finances something the loser does, while the victor extols the virtues of the system?
4. Should special interest groups have the right to pool their resources & contribute larger amounts for influence? How are the interests of others provided for?
5. If campaign contributions are limited, will we only get rich guys with lots of their own money to spend running for public office? Should there be equity in campaign expenditures? ..limits on how much anyone can spend?
6. What rules should PACs have to follow? They can spend against a candidate, what is the difference in spending for them?
7. How can campaign finance rules be crafted so that special interests are not given preference, and honesty & transparency is rewarded? ..And limiting obligations to the big donors?
8. Should campaign donors be allowed to accept political appointments? Is this not like a vegas bet? If your guy wins, you get anything you contributed back in favors.. grants, appointments, loans, etc. It is a long standing practice, but it is corruption by any definition.
It seems to me our campaign finance rules are too vague, have too many loopholes, invite corruption, & favor the high bidder. Groups tweak the rules for public image & to mask shady dealings.. buyoffs, gifts to mistresses, etc. 'Conflict of interest' is the big concept in campaign finances. We need to tighten up those definitions, & recognize those conflicts anywhere they occur.
The power follows the money, & the money follows the power. But we need to have checks & balances in it so we the people are not the losers, while the politicians & their backers hit the jackpot. Public service should be motivated by 'service' and should not be a get rich quick scheme. We need to remove the 'big money' lure of public service so honest, sincere public servants will run for office more than shysters & con men.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
1. Limit contributions from any single entity.. either a pac, union, corporation, or bundler. Say no more than $10k can come from any single contributor. This would limit any obligation the candidate has to the donor.
2. Tighten up 'conflict of interest' laws. Candidates with holdings in an industry should not be making policy decisions regarding that industry. Justice should be blind, & so should regulations.. they should not pick winners & losers in industry.
3. Limit the media spending from Political Action Committees (PACs). Require a balanced view from the opposition, like is done for major addresses, like the state of the union.
4. Become a smarter electorate. It is our nation, & we need to take more of an interest in what is going on. We get caught up in our lives, yet people in politics make decisions that will affect us & our families futures. We need to be more skeptical of politicians' claims, & spend some time researching the issues.