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The Money Party
Let us look at the effects of money on our government. First, our representatives spend at least 30 percent of their time raising funds to be re-elected rather than reading the bills they are passing, or attending committee meetings where those bills are discussed, or meeting with constituents.
At a very minimum, the fund-raising Congress is flawed because they are so distracted.
Another effect that money has is access to government.
The principle aim of most corporate campaign contributions is to help corporate executives gain access to key members of Congress.
This system does not benefit every special interest but only those that can afford the high costs of not only organizing and making campaign contributions, but also paying professional lobbyists.
Lobbying distorts the representatives’ allocation of effort in favor of groups sufficiently resource-rich that they can finance an expensive lobbying operation. Often the representative does not hear the other-side of an issue.
For example, consider the financial reform bill. In 2009 there were more than 1,500 lobbyists representing financial institutions lobbying to affect this critical legislation – 25 times the number of lobbyists supporting consumer groups, unions, and other proponents of strong reform.
Another way lobbyists distort government business is the prevention of government action.
Notice the gap between what the people believe about an issue and what congress did about an issue.
For example, the vast majority of citizens are in favor of taxing the rich, but our representatives are not inclined to raise taxes on the wealthy.
A government that is democratic in form but is in practice only responsive to its most affluent citizens is a democracy in name only.
Ronald Marshall • TC
Australia offers more
Regarding “Australia a great place” (NE 19 Dec.): Besides good pay and health care, can boast another service: “The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World,” initiated by Robert J. Burrowes and some other Aussie resisters who launched the Charter world wide on Armistace Day, 11/11/11 at 11am.
In greater Seattle, the Charter endorsers included Veterans For Peace, #92, the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the local Nonviolent Peace Team. Launchers here included people from Seattle Occupy, a number of vets, one active Army soldier in dress unform and parents of a soldier killed in Iraq.
They gathered at the Wall of Remberance in downtown Seattle, which lists the names of area miltary killed in last five major U.S. wars.
Tom Shea • Snoqualmie, WA
Holidays great for giving
During this special holiday time of giving and receiving, the Antrim County Democratic Party would like to take time to thank all the caring citizens who help to support our area food banks by donating food, time, and/or money. Your generosity has helped our neighbors who have fallen on hard times.
A big thanks to the concerned citizens who attended the educational forums which offered the public a better understanding and discussion of the serious budget and educational problems the schools are now facing, as well as offering a view of what the future may hold.
The Antrim County Democratic Party is also thankful that with donations we could provide support for the State YMCA Youth and Government Program. This helped to send additional middle school students to Lansing, hoping they gain a better understanding of and interest in the democratic system.
Also not to be forgotten, thank you to those who take time to keep Antrim county the jewel it is by walking the roadways picking up litter.
The area Democrats have been supported by many who are not members of the party, but join in the effort to improve our community. To everyone, a huge thank you.
Kathy Peterson • Kewadin
Mike Johnson’s description of his life in Australia, a country where working people can still afford to live comfortably and still earn a living wage, is another reason to aggressively pursue dramatic campaign reform measures here.
In Australia, voting is compulsory. In this country, voting is not the easy or the automatic process it should be because registration requirements serve as impediments.
There is strong evidence that entire segments of the population, such as the elderly and people of color, are being actively disenfranchised in many states (i.e., 32 states) prior to the 2012 election. Voting needs to be more actively encouraged in this country.
Entering one’s name on the voter registration rolls should be done as part of a coming of age ceremony when our youth turn age 18 and also done automatically when immigrants are sworn in as citizens.
Campaign financing should be done strictly with public funds and severely limited private funding to close an avenue whereby wealthy individuals and corporations buy political influence and to allow more people without means to run to office.
Campaign duration should be limited to six weeks (as it is in Australia) in order to lower their cost and to limit seemingly endless and mind numbing political analysis. We can do anything in this country if we set our collective will towards it.
Let’s reform political campaigns and take our country back from the money talks system we currently have.
Kathryn Bamberg • Williamsburg
Bring all troops home
I’m delighted to hear that military operations in Iraq are coming to a conclusion but don’t allow the administration to fool you!
Military spending and US commitments in Iraq will continue into perpetuity. Just like they have in Germany, Japan, Korea and half the rest of the world.
It’s time to bring our military personnel and dollars back to the States. In Iraq we lost 4,487 American citizens and wasted $805 billion. For what?
Let’s bring those dollars home to improve our environment, infrastructure, schools and a host of other programs that benefit to our citizens and don’t sacrifice the lives of our citizens.
Let’s get 100% out of Iraq and every other ounce of earth on this planet not identified as one of our fifty states.
Substantially curtailing military spending will go a long way in solving our budget problems and improving our relations with the world.
Michael Estes • TC