Class Warfare Blog

November 25, 2011

Can You Spell Corruption, Boys and Girls?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:18 am
Tags: , ,

Mr. Rogers (of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) could really spell things out with great clarity and simplicity. I envy the skills required to do so. But the attempt must be made: the topic for today is political corruption.

Imagine going to a hair parlor for a haircut and after you describe what you want, you doze in the chair only to wake at the end with a haircut completely different from what you asked for. Angrily, you ask what the heck is going on and your stylist tells you glibly that your spouse had offered her a generous tip to cut your hair the way she wanted, not the way you wanted.

How do you feel?

Imagine sitting down with your lawyer to open a nonprofit corporation to do some work you had in mind only to find out that the lawyer actually went ahead with forming a for-profit corporation instead. Bewildered as to how he could have made such a mistake, you find out that your business partner paid the lawyer to do what he wanted instead of what you wanted.

How do you feel?

Imagine going to a doctor for some minor plastic surgery only to see at the unveiling that something quite different from what you requested was performed. Shocked, you inquire to find out that your parents doubled the surgeon’s fee to fix some things about you that had always bothered them.

How do you feel?

The above may seem silly, but if the three scenarios had actually happened, I imagine a divorce, law suit and possible disbarment, and parental divorce/disownment to follow shortly. The behaviors of the three service providers are serious breaches of ethics and the law and could have serious consequences. So, why do we allow our politicians to accept money from people, people they do not represent, and then let them vote on issues that affect those self-same people? This is political corruption and it is built into our current system of politics.

The founders of the Constitution, if James Madison and Thomas Jefferson are to be believed, were seriously concerned with the corrupting influence of money on the legislative process. Currently there is no serious effort to do anything about it. And the efforts that are being made are efforts to secure transparency, that is the find out whose money is being given to whom. Most of these efforts are probably misguided and certainly ineffective.

As I have stated before, there are only two things that need to be done to fix the majority of the corruption by money in politics:
1) Require politicians who have received political contributions from corporations which have a substantive interest in a piece of legislation to recuse themselves from the vote, and
2) Limit direct fundraising by candidates to the boundaries of their political districts (same for issues legislation). Anyone or anything located outside of those boundaries, wanting to speak using money in a political campaign must clearly mark their materials (brochures, TV ads, whatever) with “Paid for by Outsiders” in big, block letters.

Too often interest groups collect money (and often launder it by transferring it to another political action group), call themselves something innocuous like “Mothers Against Crime” or “Moms for Apple Pie,” and then flood a campaign with money. The forms identifying the source of the money show the innocuous name, a post office box address and, really, nothing more. This is how Americans for Prosperity has raised 95% of its millions it pumps into political campaigns from three anonymous billionaires, who remain anonymous.

Efforts to identify the people behind these organizations has been hampered by laws bought through a politically corrupt process. So, just tell me whether the funds come from within my political district or from without, please. The money coming from without is likely to be a form of influence peddling, so I can evaluate those messages differently from the ones paid for by my friends and neighbors.

More on this in subsequent posts.

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