Government For Sale

December 14, 2011

Uncategorized


“Money is the mother’s milk of politics” (http://nsbnews.net/content/406477-money-mothers-milk-political-corruption), Jesse Unruh, a California state Assembly speaker and treasurer, so poignantly described our political system.  Instead of spending countless hours each day focusing on solutions to health care programs, the huge deficit our country faces, and the mediocre academia rankings our country is known for, these candidates are pleading lobbyists and interest groups to donate money to their campaign.  In return for these donations, these donors expect that if these candidates are elected to office that they focus their attention on the issues that their donors are passionate about.  The problem with this is that many of America’s wealthiest people, unions, corporations, and political PAC’s have tremendous sway in Washington (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2011-07-11-SuperPACS-campaign-funds-2012-elections-donations_n.htm).  Many believe that by equally distributing money to each candidate, thus eliminating politicians incentive to fundraise, these elected officials will be forced to focus on what their constituents plead for instead of just focusing on the

desires of these organized fragments of America.  With large donations coming from the wealthiest Americans, politics changes from an institution that seeks the benefit of the entire society, to a private business run by the wealthiest individuals that pursues the interest of an extremely small percentage of the American people.

When discussing Rousseau, and his belief that all people are socially equal (or that social inequality ought to be minimal), it is imperative to examine how politicians act when they are under the heavy influence of several powerful interest groups.  These

politicians sometimes even abort the values they stood by when campaigning in order to please the small portion of individuals that

donated millions of dollars to ensure that the politician was elected. To start off with, Rousseau would argue that there should not be this big of a discrepancy in political control between these wealthy individuals and the lower class.  This large discrepancy leads to this imbalance in control over the government and thus society.

Rousseau’s social contract also has ties to the importance of implementing a finance reform system, stating that the “general will” is not writing the laws for the country, but instead an extremely small portion of the population, consisting of the wealthiest one percent, controls the laws that are established by the government.  When the “general will” is not being enforced, society is prone to be controlled by the will of a select few.  If finance reform allows for political control by the minority instead of the majority, should politicians’ ability to raise money for campaigns be ceased?  If so, should each politician be allotted a specific amount of money to advertise with? A recent study has shown that for every $1 dollar donated by small donors, $7 dollars come from the pockets of the wealthier donors (http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773857). By introducing a fair election system, political influence would slowly shift from power of the wealthy to a more equally balanced shift in power that includes all American patrons.   The ideal situation would consist of an entire nation abandoning their own interests in order to serve the general will.  However, the federalists disown this hypothetical state and believe that in spite of these inevitable factions, there is a way for the government to work for all people.

Although Rousseau’s social contract pushes for the involvement of a general will in all government decision-making, Madison’s take on factions shows why social classes are an inevitable component of society.  Therefore the wealthiest Americans are serving as a faction in this specific case, where they are brought together through common interests, even though these interests may not be supported by the general public. In the Federalist Papers, factions are made out to be a threat to a society run government.  However,
doing quite the opposite by allowing all this outsider influence on the policies created in Washington, therefore in todays terms, the federalist’s would see finance reform as a way to halt outsider influence on Washington.this is the exact reason a government was formed.  The United States government serves as a single entity separate from all factions that occur within society.  The government serves as the highest power because it is supposed to shield itself from outside influence, like powerful factions (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_51.html).  Finance reform would ensure that these factions are separated from the government, whose ultimate goal is to serve the people, not a few influential and powerful factions.  The federalists view on the importance of an influence free government would allow for checks and balances that help maximize the potential of this government. The only way complete liberty can be afforded to a nation’s patrons is for each section of the government to not only stop influence from outside factions, but to also avoid contact with the other sections of the government to ensure that these checks and balances are purely constructed by each section individually.  Finance reform guarantees that these individual sections remain separate from each other and the rest of society.  The federalists believed the “union” government’s main purpose was to “break and control the violation of factions” (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_10.html, first line).  The current federal government is

By implementing a system like finance reform, politicians would be serving the voters first instead of the donors. Political focus would drift away from the problems that the wealthiest and most influential Americans face, and would shift towards the problems that America faces as a whole.  Politicians would not simply disregard the needs of the wealthy, but instead balance the focus amongst all voters and Americans.  Therefore the wealthy would be served along with the rest of the people that, according to the constitution, are supposed to have an equal amount of power within the government (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-11-15/opinion/opinion_gergen-zuckerman-politics-money_1_politics-dependence-congress/2?_s=PM:OPINION).

        When discussing finance reform within politics, antagonists would argue that through the trickle-down effect, helping the wealthy actually benefits all Americans (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/1014/Can-Occupy-Wall-Street-really-get-money-out-of-politics). However, when looking at actual statistics on wealth growth and decline for each socio-economic class, the individuals that refute finance reform lose all logos because according to a recently posted video on The Guardian, it is clear that during an economic boom, the wealthiest Americans benefit the most, and during an economic trough, the wealthiest people withstand a smaller blow to their pocket books as compared to the percent that the lowest socio-economic families lose.  During George W. Bush’s term as president, average incomes increased by three percent.  However, sixty-five percent of this increase directly correlated to the gains of the wealthiest one percent of Americans.  Also, when the economy plummeted, the wealthier Americans experience was less severe.  In 2010, the 24 million least wealthy households in America watched their incomes plunge ten percent, whereas the wealthiest Americans only experienced a decrease of two percent in their incomes (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/video/2011/nov/16/99-v-1-occupy-data-animation).

Here’s a little comical twist to finance reform:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-23-2008/indecision-2008—finance-reform

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