Monday, May 28, 2007

A Reason For Hope?

Pundit Predicts Mass Exodus of Corrupt Members

Here's some good news for a change. Ethics Legislation Easily Passes House (Washington Post)
Prodded by Democratic leaders and by freshmen elected partly on promises to clean up Washington, the House approved new ethics legislation yesterday that would penalize lawmakers who receive a wide range of favors from special interests, and would require lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they collect and deliver to lawmakers.

Party leaders and new lawmakers worked until the day before the vote to sway some longtime members who had balked at the proposals. It took weeks of persuasion by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other key lawmakers to convince recalcitrant Democrats -- among them some members of the speaker's inner circle.
Now that last little bit about the recalcitrant Democrats is of course not good news. Not at all. It points out what many of us have been saying all along - that some (not all, and probably not even most, but a significant number) Democrats are in fact DINOs, or as I prefer to think of them, stealth Republicans operating under a false flag. In short, politicians whose loyalty is not to the country or its people, but to the deep pockets of corporate campaign donors.

My thinking on this follows that of Michael Moore as expressed in his book Stupid White Men - in which he reminds us that if a Republican runs against another Republican in an election, a Republican will prevail. The fact that one of the Republicans runs with a D in front of his name doesn't change that. Or as the Rude Pundit expressed it,
"Now, as we well know, we're a Lieberman or two away from the kind of one-party rule that would have made Stalin say, 'Goddamn, wish I'd thought of that.' "
I personally think this practice should constitute treason, since it robs the voter of any significant choice. But I digress. Back to the good news aspect of this story.
From Think Progress:
Today, on The Chris Matthews Show, CBS News’ national political correspondent Gloria Borger claimed that the new ethical standards could cause a mass exodus of corrupt lawmakers from the House. “Watch for mass resignations from House members who are now saying they can’t afford to live here unless they’re bought and paid for by lobbyists,” said Borger. “They’re going to leave.”
Great! Don't let the door slam into your bloated double-wide ass on the way out. Now let's take it a step further and outlaw lobbying altogether. Hell, let's go all the way and do whatever it takes to remove big money from the equation for good. After all, as I see it the problem with having the best government that money can buy is that the worst possible government is one that can be bought.

So what I think the country needs is called publicly financed campaign funding. This puts people into government that actually want to serve their country, rather than be serviced by hookers, as quite a few corrupt politicians have been caught doing as part of their lucrative 'second career' in influence peddling. Are you worried you can't afford it? I think you can't afford to keep going the way you are.

Consider this. The 2008 presidential elections are expected to reach a dubious milestone, with each candidate spending a BILLION dollars or more. Let's assume that the taxpayer was burdened with this cost. In a nation of 300,000,000, that would be a little over $6.60 per person, for both candidates. Of course if there were public financing, the cost could be a small fraction of this. The only reason that each candidate is spending so much is that they fear being outspent by their opponent. Add in the much lower campaign costs associated with Congress-critters and Senators, and the bill would still be well under $50.00 per taxpayer.

Contrast that with the fact that, due largely to deficit spending and tax cuts for the wealthy, every man, woman and child is burdened with a collective public debt of $30,000. This is money that will eventually have to be paid back with interest, money that was spent on subsidies to huge multinational corporations, or on unjust wars, or on massive pork projects like Alaska's infamous 'bridge to nowhere.' Money that could have been spent better on something that would have had more value to the average American, like hospitals, public schools, roadways, water treatment systems, and all those other infrastructure items a country needs to sustain prosperity and well-being for its citizens.

So long as money rather than common sense drives policy in America, policy will continue to drive America off a cliff. I think it's time to apply the brakes.

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