Saturday, November 15, 2008

Money in Politics

Money in Politics
By Jerome Grossman

"Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with".
Will Rogers, 1931

"Nothing but money
Is sweeter then honey"
Benjamin Franklin, 1735

"Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce"
President James A. Garfield, 1880

"Knowledge - Zzzzp! Money-Zzzzp! - Power! That’s the cycle democracy is built on!
Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie", 1945

How important is money in politics? The Federal Election Commission has recently released the following information:

In 2006 the top spenders won 94% of US House of Representative races:

and 73% of the U.S. Senate races

In 2004 the top spenders won 78% of US House of Representative races

and 88% of the U.S. Senate races

Figures for 2008 election are not yet available but we know that at least $5 billion was spent on Presidential, House, Senate races and that President-elect Barack Obama outspent GOP nominee John McCain by an estimated margin of at least three to one, giving Obama a great advantage in advertising, paid workers, organization.

Clearly, well meant initiatives like the McCain- Feingold election law controlling political spending in elections has failed. However, we cannot cease efforts to make the electoral process fair to candidates with fewer resources. Our national goals of equality and democracy demand continued searches for the right formula.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The War on Recession

The War on Recession
By Jerome Grossman

The success of the Obama administration will be measured primarily by its performance in reviving the United States economy, now sliding toward widespread unemployment, corporate bankruptcy, with a desperate middle-class that has lost its life savings.

The Bush administration, with the assent of the Democratically-controlled Congress, has initiated fiscal policies that point the way for the Obama administration: give federal government money to banks and other corporate entities considered “Too big to fail”; accept in return partial ownership and a measure of control over the subsidized companies. To this menu, subsidies for the citizens must be added. Everybody should be on the gravy train.

This degree of government intervention would have been unthinkable only a few months ago, especially with a conservative Republican president. President Obama will build on the Congressional and Bush precedents by vastly increasing the already sanctified programs, extending them to include many more economic entities under financial pressure, relaxing the qualifications to save or help those with lesser clout. George W. Bush has given Barack Obama political cover.

Opposition to this dramatic and expensive program will be minimal. Some will decry expansion of government power and they will be correct. Others will cite waste and fraud as thousands of companies and millions of individuals get in line for federal dollars and they will be right. In justification of its extension of Bush policy, President Obama needs only to declare a “War on Recession”, the battle to save the American economy from defeat, from deflation, from massive unemployment, from the collapse of US world financial hegemony, from the diminution of Social Security and Medicare, from the possibility that other nations might take advantage of our plight, even challenging us militarily.

The people of America will respond positively to the call to war as they have so many times in the past: the war on terror, the war to save democracy, the war to end war, the Cold War, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, etc., etc. The amount that will be spent on this war will be many times the $700 billion already appropriated but only a fraction of the losses sustained by corporations and private investors. The safety of the nation is at stake. The price is not the decisive factor. We will spend any amount to insure economic stability and to guard against social disruption. All we need is a slogan, The War on Recession to rally public support and achieve focus. The rest is history and it begins on January 20, in President Obama’s inauguration address.


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