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Letter to the Editor: Public should finance political campaigns


Times are hard!   While a hundred dollar bill won't buy what it used to, most of us would gladly put the gift of one in our otherwise empty pockets.

Even at this early date, major news sources are already predicting that campaign spending in the upcoming election will exceed $2 billion dollars. Consider this: A $2 billion dollar stack of crisp $100 bills is 8,000 feet in height (800,000, if ones). Now that's a mountain of money that could be better used!

It wasn't too long ago when the reported cost of presidential campaigns was only tens of millions of dollars - then hundreds of millions - and now billions. When and where will it all end?

From whence does all this money come and for what unholy purpose? The only ones that have these kinds of big bucks are big business, and it can safely be said that their contributions aren't gratis - these donors expect something in return and they usually get it.

Even this early, most of us are already sick of ingesting a belly full of negative ads - described charitably as gross distortions of the truth. We need to be purged of this pollution before it kills us, our nation and our democracy.

The only way to do this is to get special Interest money out of politics via public financing of campaigns. "Ah!" but it's said, "Such monies shouldn't come out of taxpayer's purse!" Think again! Out of whose pockets does the present money come? The campaign donations by big business/special interests congressionally buys 10 times over, favorable tax and other policies that you and I end up funding through higher prices, lost benefits and other means.

The buying power and opportunities of the hard working middleclass have been drastically eroded over the last three decades. At the same time, the wealth of the 1 percent super rich, by way of favorable tax rates and other benefits, has disproportionately increased beyond all just considerations.

If these two problems aren't soon solved, our democracy will surely be lost and we'll become a troubled, second-rate nation.

Thomas Machir Harrison, Front Royal


Thanks for your letter. You say,,,"If these two problems aren't soon solved, our democracy will surely be lost and we'll become a troubled, second-rate nation."
I would submit that we already are a second-rate nation by most major indexes. And, we're on track to become a third-rate nation. I recently read that it is, in effect, now easier to achieve the "American Dream" in large parts of Europe than in the US. On education, healthcare, innovation, personal liberty, etc, we score way down the list, and on many more.
The truth is we reside in a oligarchical society driven by unmitigated greed. Our government is profoundly dysfunctional and no amount of hand-wringing by the dying middle class will wrest control of our "democracy" back from the Plutocrats. I'm afraid that, like a severe drug abuser, this nation is being pushed over a cliff and only widespread calamity and hitting rock-bottom will make the vast majority of us wake up. And at that point it could be too late.

Sadly both entries are spot on. Remember when you moved into a new community and the American Chamber of Commerce (ACC) knocked on your door, welcoming you to the community with an informational package of local businesses available to you to include local numbers, i.e., fire, police, hospitals, etc. (I am dating myself, aren't I?) In the last election, the ACC spent $50 million; so far for this election cycle they have spent $3.4 million with the CEO's promise that they will exceed the $50 million spent in the previous election.

"Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the powerful business lobby, on Tuesday said the Chamber planned to get involved in 11 or 12 Senate races and 35 to 37 races for the House of Representatives. 'We are planning on having a good year,' Donohue told hundreds of members of the U.S. small business community at a meeting in Washington.....In 2010, when Republicans took control of the House, the Chamber reported spending $32 million on races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics data....(The ACC historically stays away from the presidential race but hits hard on congressional elections as well as state attorneys general and elected judges races.) The group, whose donors are kept secret....,(Reuters May 22, 2012)

Small business community? What? Where? Remember our little Ben Franklin store in Woodstock that went out of business after 75 years and acknowledged publicly that their closing was due in part to Walmart?

"Wal-Mart*, the giant retailer now under fire over allegations of foreign bribery in Mexico, has participated in an aggressive and high-priced lobbying campaign to amend the long-standing U.S. anti-bribery law that the company might have violated. The push to revisit how federal authorities enforce the statute has been centered at a little-known but well-funded arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where a top executive of Wal-Mart has sat on the board of directors for nearly a decade." (WP/Bloomberg)

*And the winners are...
Wal-Mart rules the Fortune 500 for the second year in a row -- beating Exxon Mobil decisively.

Wal-Mart Stores
Exxon Mobil
Fannie Mae

General Electric
Berkshire Hathaway
General Motors
Bank of America
Ford Motor

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