Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What the "Get Money Out of Politics" Crowd Refuses to Comprehend

By, Chris Rossini
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You hear the complaints all the time:

  • "There's just too much money influencing Washington."
  • "Big business has a big advantage over the little guy."
  • "We must remove money from the political process."

Here's a very recent example of this type of hot air:

Until they're stopped?

Who is Reich trying to kid?

If he really wanted to stop them, his entire state-worshiping career would be thrown into a tailspin.

The only way to stop the buying and selling of politicians, is to reduce their "value". And their value is calculated by the amount of power that they wield. Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million because the amount of power that he would be able to influence, and use to his advantage, was worth that much to him.

Put a powerless politician in front of Adelson, and the politician will be quickly escorted to the door. Ron Paul wouldn't even make it past Adelson's secretary.

However, put a politician in front of Adelson that can give him subsidies, provide monopoly privileges, and the ability to erect all types of barriers against his competitors, and now you have something "worth" spending the big bucks on.

By now, even a person with average intelligence should be able to get it. We're not talking about a ridiculous mathematical equation here:

But alas, the Robert Reich's don't get it. For them, the problem is the money. It needs to be stopped.

What Reich, and many others like him, are missing is the purpose that the money is serving: Influence.

Money is just one way to influence. It's surely not the only way, but it is quite popular.

Let's do a mental exercise and say that a law is passed. No more paying off politicians.

We should note that government can't even keep drugs out of its prisons, so the idea of keeping money out of politics is almost too laughable to even discuss. But let's talk hypotheticals here. A law is on the books.

Ok....What are the options now for an Adelson?

  • First, he may just flat out break the law and pay the politician off anyway.
  • He can strike a deal with a politician: "You take care of me now, and there's a Swiss bank account filled with X amount of dollars waiting for you when you leave office."
  • He can offer the politician a cushy job after he leaves office...$1 million salary to start.
  • If Adelson wants to be even more discreet, he can have one of his buddies offer the politician a cushy job after he leaves office.

The possibilities are limited only by the imagination. In other words, the number of ways to influence a politicians is endless.

So merely removing money (again, something that could never happen anyway) solves nothing. The root of the problem has not been addressed. Politicians have power that they should not possess. But since they do, the Adelson's and Buffett's of the world are going to want to influence them.

On the other hand, if you were to remove the power, you'd also remove the problem.

Explain this to a person like Robert Reich and it just doesn't compute. For him, removing power from politicians is equivalent to stopping the rotation of the Earth.

Reich would much rather circle behind the President and watch him sign another law...I'm sure he gets a charge out of it....maybe a little misty-eyed too.

But the truth is, the President can sign laws until his royal pen runs out of royal ink.

Politicians that wield power will always (in one way or another) be bought and sold by the highest bidder.


  1. True, it is impossible to remove the money from politics. Yes, the power of each politician must be reduced to a point where is is pointless to buy off each near-insignificant lawmaker. But how?

    Apply the law of supply and demand.

    There is a finite amount of legitimate political power out there. That power is divided among about 500 politicians, to differing degrees, and one president. Why 500? Why that arbitrary number, regardless of population growth?

    Why not base the number of representatives (the house) on the population? Perhaps 1 representative for every 100,000 people?

    That would mean about 3,500 House Reps... Near impossible for lobbyist to buy, near impossible for party bosses to control, and would move the reps so much closer to their constituents.

    Then the problem of the senate... States need to nullify the 17th Amendment. They need to simply declare the 17th unconstitutional, and nominate their own representatives. This would return the intended power to the state legislatures, as well as establish a constitutionality check at the individual state level.

    Pipe dreams, I know.

    1. I understand your concern for republicanism, but what would keep state politicians from corrupting the senate selection? You're making the assumption that state politicians aren't corrupt already (See Illinois).

    2. Years ago I read a column by Walter Williams in which he made exactly this point. I believe he posited that if the House was returned to the same ratio of constituents per representatives, there would be on the order of 7,000 reps. This would likely be unworkable. Which is exactly the reason it is desirable.

  2. More Rossini please. Thank you.

  3. This is a really excellent analysis. Its ironic that progressives (dem and rep) can't grasp the fact that its their idea of government that creates exactly what they are opposed to. So long as the government feels that it needs to protect workers and drive employment, it will be beholden to the corporate elite.

    Even if you disallowed all big money financing of politicians, all one has to do is tell their senator is something like "if you pass that, I will lay off 2000 people in your district" and 10000 across the country. After that, I own the guy.

    You can't protect the workers, without protecting their employer. The industrialists that pushed progressive government knew this very well and felt the trade off of higher labor costs was well worth it. Reich doesn't understand that he's a tool of the system just as elite academia were in the days when the industrialists pushed for progressive government.

  4. The government is put precisely there to serve their patrons. How more laws are going to change that misunderstands the nature of government which is one group living at the expense of another group. Reich plays the blue team vs red team game to get people to focus on trivial matters and not the root of the problem.

  5. So politicians can't help but be corrupted by the money thrown at them by influence seekers. I certainly agree with the analysis provided. I'll add, however, that the "get the money out" crowd never assigns the same attributes to themeselves. Somehow the those at the receiving end of government largess are never corrupted by the money thrown at them by the vote seekers.

  6. Finally, an article by Rossini that doesn't contain any steaming turd.

    This was a fantastic article.

    1. Nice Article.Rossini always brings it. As for you Goff, your backhanded compliment is weak. I've read better comments on a bathroom wall...while making a turd.

  7. I think you're way off. Make it high treason to accept bribes, money, and kick backs while in office. Sure a few brazen ones will try. But after a few executions the problem will not persist like it does now.

    1. And who's going to be the judge and the executioner? Do you have delusions that it will be you or anybody like you?

      If anything, this will make corruption even more entrenched and widespread since now friends and pals of the executioners will be safe and protected from any criticism.

    2. That leaves the promise of high paying jobs AFTER leaving office, moron. All they have to do is give family members jobs, or find any of a million ways to "pay them off".

      The only way to stop it is to REDUCE THEIR POWER!

    3. @ Anonymous

      You seem to be forgetting that the legislators are on the side of the powerful and corrupt, and so are most of the courts. Remember that constitution? It's treated like toilet paper on a daily basis without any repercussions.

      Like i keep saying, politics...will...not...solve...the...problem.

  8. FROM JP: I think there are some issues you misinterpret.

    1) We have decided awhile ago (1776) to create a government where people can theoretically protect their individual rights AND select people to run their Federal government (the united states).
    2) If we didn't have the ability to vote for someone, the alternative is simply the rule by force. Most of human history is done this way - dictatorships, kings, tribal leaders...all of them can punish people with force. Our democracy uses force as well...we have police. We have the military for people not in our country. However, we can select who controls the use of force and set laws for when the force can be applied. Voting is the mechanism...if people choose to use it.
    3)Without money, politicians still wield power...they can still write and pass laws that affect our social and economic choices.
    4) THE BIGGER POINT: Getting "money out", by eliminating personal contributions and PACs,is just a part of the problem. The real problem is politicians need money to give to private companies (media - TV, Broadcast, Radio) to get their names and messages (sometimes 'lies') to influence a largely uninterested and uneducated populace, overall. The media doesn't go away, and they choose who to cover in their "news" reports or opinion programming. I would venture to say most people didn't know that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were presidential candidates - maybe they missed them during the so-called debates. Quite frankly, there is no viable alternative to the current 100 year plus duopoly of Democrat and Republican parties.
    This is no different from economic theory on capitalism which shows that any industry will evolve to just a few dominant companies (barring regulations that distort competition, etc.).
    The only problem here is that there is anti-competitive behaviour that goes unchecked in politics, and the media companies control that behaviour.
    5) I should add we need a government of some sort, otherwise we would have some sociopathic strongman arise. Our lives would be much shorter and brutish without societal cooperation. I am not debating that less government is better, just that we need government of some sort.
    6) The reason I am totally against PUBLIC FINANCING is that it simply subsidizes the duopolies who get the lion's share of any public financing scheme I have seen to date. The only true public financing is to limit public funds to be equal among all qualified candidates with no other funds allowed...(but limiting funds violates the 1st amendment...Citizens vs United was about the right to assemble and promote your free speech via collecting group money, not that money is free speech. If it had been decided the other way, the media company's right to free press would have been fighting the same amendment's right to assemble). Long story short, public financing benefits the anti-competitive incumbents and subsidizes the big media companies.

    I always argue the get-money-out-of-politics crowd misses the fact about the media controlling the message. Blogs like this one, no matter how good, or groups arising from blogs like this, ultimately have proven not to be effective in taking on the mainstream parties. The Tea Party was likely the best effort to date, but it was still funded by old guard Republican insiders and co-opted by the Republican party.

    1. Fallacy upon a fallacy, I don't even know where to start...

      1) "We" didn't decide anything in 1776. It was decided by a group of conspirators for their own benefit. "We" weren't asked.

      2) Do you really have a delusion that you can elect somebody representing you? Sorry, the choice between two murderous sociopaths selected by the establishment is not a choice at all. And if there's a slightest threat that somebody unapproved can get through the barrier, the establishment resorts to all kinds of dirty tricks to keep the maverick out - as anybody not living in a cave during the 2012 republican primaries could observe.

      3) Without money to pay the hired thugs the laws are nothing more than waste of paper. Without money to pay for the propaganda the population stops being docile and then no savageness of thugs can help the rulers safe. Power is always alliance between moneybags, bullshitters, and thugs, with moneybags running the show except the brief periods of butchery when thugs get the blood coming to their heads (it doesn't last, because massive bloodbaths require massive resources, which forces the thugs to go back to the moneybags).

      4) The article talked not about political contributions - it is impossible to suppress them in one form or another, but about ability of politicians to control enormous amounts of money.

      5) Government *is* a bunch of sociopathic strongmen surrounded by deluded sheep and lower-caliber sociopaths.

      6) The right reason for being against "public financing" is that it is nothing more than distribution of loot. Why being surprised that it always goes to the friends of the looters? How could it be otherwise? There's no way to fix that, that's the nature of the looting.

      As for the effectiveness of the blogs... let's wait and see. So far they were remarkably effective in getting the formerly fringe ideas into the mainstream. Merely 22 years ago USSR was thought to be forever, with no opposition to challenge the power of the Communist Party. Until the ideas long confined to the tiny circle of dissidents suddenly burst out and took hold of the minds of the society.

    2. Blogs, and sites like LRC have changed the game. Ten years? The MSM will be marginalized, while and the like will be mainstream. We are #winning!

    3. Averros is right. There are so many fallacies here its hard to know where to begin. I'm not even going to try address all of them. Just one...

      "I should add we need a government of some sort, otherwise we would have some sociopathic strongman arise."

      Government IS a group of sociopathic strongmen. They just know that keeping people docile and pretending their vote means something will stop uprisings and maybe even brainwash people into believing they are nice people. That is the whole point of democracy.

      Furthermore, let's say government is not a collection of sociopaths. Why don't you PROVE that without government, a sociopathic strongman would arise who would have the funds and conviction to convince enough people to work as his thugs against an entire nation.

      "Our lives would be much shorter and brutish without societal cooperation."

      You are equating government with societal cooperation. Nonsense. The government only uses force. Societal cooperation doesn't need the government. As a matter of fact, there is no "cooperation" if it needs government. There is only blackmail: do what we say or else.

      Furthermore, you have made yet another arbitrary assumption without backing it up with solid logic or evidence, that without government life would be "shorter and brutish".

      Tell me, pretty please, if society without government is so full of egomaniacal thugs that life would be shorter and brutish, what makes you think only the best of the human race flocks to government, or that these egomaniacal thugs would not use democracy to elect those like them into government?
      Rules are not invented by government and neither is decency and cooperation. You attribute qualities to government as if it's some kind of entity consisting of divinity.

    4. Precisely what academic theory advocates that every industry will evolve into a few behemoth companies? That is so demonstrably false in the real world I have no idea why anyone would ever subscribe to such a theory.