Lots of news lately involving money and politics dropping this week. First, there was the whistleblower story about Facebook and algorithm manipulation which was followed up by a complete network outage for most of the next day. Then, there was the story about the Pandora Papers which exposed how the wealthy have been hiding money all over the world. Finally, there’s the AT&T story about how they pretty much funded OAN Network and keep it afloat with user fees.
The common theme in all these stories is massive wealth accumulation and that wealth being used to manipulate society in harmful ways. I’ve never been jealous or envious of wealthy people, and I’m not about to change my views halfway through life. That doesn’t mean that I will turn a blind eye to the damage being done by the wealthy because of their greed.
What does it say about the world in which we reside when the so-called beacon of freedom, the home of democracy, is basically a 2nd to 3rd world keptocracy with a thin veneer of democracy being used to try to hide the ugly truth? The moment the Citizen’s United decision came down, money became power in the US, and by proxy, the entire world.
The majority of laws passed in this country only happen when Congress gets it’s pockets greased enough to do something. More often than not, the laws being passed don’t benefit the country as a whole as much as they benefit the special interests who have bought and paid for Congress. The sad thing about this is voters continue to re-elect the same people who keep screwing us over in favor of their sponsors. None of this would happen without the voters going into the booth to keep putting these bastards into office.
It’s a damn good setup too, when you realize how it works. A wealthy person creates a company (or a shell company). That company uses some form of media to manipulate the minds of voters into whatever the wealthy person wants them to believe. The wealthy person then directs money to people they want in office to enact their agenda. The citizens buy into the propaganda of the wealthy person’s agenda and the idea the chosen official will deliver that agenda. When it’s all done, it’s wealthy person 1 – America 0.
A perfect example of the power of money is Sens. Manchin and Sinema. Prior to January 20th, Manchin was talking about the need to pass an infrastructure package of up to $4 trillion dollars to get America back on track. Nine months later, his “top” amount is $1.5 trillion. I can only imagine the amount of campaign contributions he received to change his mind on the size of the infrastructure needs of this country. Never mind the flooding and destruction we’re seeing on a daily basis now. Don’t think about the potholes on your drive to work or to the store. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and many school kids don’t have access to the internet. However, that infrastructure need dropped significantly over nine months.
Sinema is just as bad. She was elected based on her pledges to work for the people of Arizona to help different groups that supported her and got her elected. I guess the support from those groups paled in comparison to the newfound support that has pushed her wealth high enough to make her a millionaire in three years. Her new supporters have obviously gotten her ear because she won’t hold town halls or even take questions from the very people who got her elected. She will, however, skip out of DC with the quickness to attend a fundraiser. That’s the power of money.
How do we counter the power of money? For starters, we need transparency and sunshine to find out all the sources of this money and the requests that accompany the donations. Voters, that means ALL voters, need to step out of their confirmation biases and look at the laws being suggested and where the push for them originates. I would also go as far as to suggest people band together to form a new and neutral news outlet that focuses on investigative journalism to vet information as it’s spread to try to kill disinformation before it infects society.
By far, the biggest antidote to money influence is the power of our vote itself. We need to eschew ourselves of the party apparatus. I know that’s harder than what it sounds, but party politics enables corruption and kleptocracy.
In addition, we need to address the ethical standards for holding office in this country. As a federal worker, I undergo a background investigation every 5 years as a condition of employment. Bad credit, financial issues, or anything else that would make me susceptible to blackmail or coercion could get me dismissed from employment. I can’t accept gifts from people I do business with, and the maximum value of gifts that I can accept is less than a triple digit amount. I don’t make policy or law. I simply enforce it. So, why am I held to a vastly higher standard than the people who actually craft policy and determine the direction of the country?
Just something to think about…