Why companies fund politicians

Sometimes it helps to state the obvious. Companies and wealthy donors are not contributing to politicians without expectations. They want a return on their investment. They want politicians to help their businesses and increase their wealth.

Last Friday, the show “Whistleblower,” highlighted a procurement person in the Department of Defense who testified to Congress about a very egregious dereliction of sourcing of contracts. She noted how a major military contract was awarded to a subsidiary of Haliburton without a competitive bid during the Iraqi invasion. If you recall your history, former Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Haliburton before the election. This contract eventually tallied $61 billion in fees. By crying foul, she was eventually fired. Yet, this earnest and ethical public servant helped improve the procurement process and was awarded a settlement for being mistreated.

Yet, this is not an isolated incidence. Corporate welfare is alive and well. You need look no further than the environmental deregulation under this administration. But, Democrata should not be too smug, as corporate welfare is an equal opportunity offender. Politicians need funding to run a campaign, so they ingratiate themselves to people who are looking for a payback with their donations.

The cures to this dilemma should not be as hard, but funders do not want the paradigm to change. Until other citizens demand change, it won’t happen. Let me repeat a few thoughts which are not original.

– shorten election cycles – less money will be needed and fewer commercials will result.

– have term limits – twelve years for a Senator and Congressperson is plenty; two terms for a President is enough.

– debates should be structured around issues, without an audience and following debate protocols; if you speak over an opponent, you lose time.

– legislate to remedy three awful Supreme Court rulings – Citizens United, McCutcheon and the gerrymandering decision of last week.

– Eliminate commercials not sanctioned by the candidate – they are usually hateful and stretching the truth.

– Read and watch reputable news sources; if they publish or broadcast when they make mistakes is an indicator – also opinion talk show hosts are giving you biased opinion disguised as news.

– the country desperately needs a moderate party – all of these issues have created more polarized parties who are collaborating less, not more.

– Finally, especially with this president, but it goes with all politicians, take what they say or write with a grain of salt. The current White House incumbent is far more untruthful than other elected politicians now or in the past.

We the people are the only ones who can stop this. Demand the truth. Demand action. Identify your supported concerns with legislators and ask them what they plan to do about it. Be diplomatically relentless. And, remember this final point – members of Congress spend at least 1/3 of their time soliciting money. Their job is governing, not fundraising.



You don’t want to win the argument, you want to get your way

The title is a quote I read this week in Readers Digest, where famous people noted the best advice they ever received. It was offered by Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. This quote resonated with me as it sums up the objective of politicians. “You don’t want to win the argument, you want to get your way.” And, this is one of the problems.

With it taking so much money to get elected, politicians are beholden to an oligarchy of donors whose influence is significant. They are the kinds of people who want their calls answered or returned immediately. When you shell out tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars, you want the representative to represent your interests.

Being right or winning an argument is irrelevant. These folks just want to get their way. This is a key reason non-sensical arguments continue in the public vernacular. The oligarchy wants its way. They want to perpetuate their business model at all costs, even if the model is dangerous to people or the environment. They want to be protected if the market starts to buy fewer of their product, as free market capitalism to them is only I can get help, not you.

If you think about major issues, be it doing something about climate change, paying people better, governing gun use and sales better, protecting the financial interests of consumers, making sure people have access to health care, etc., the oligarchy does not want anything standing in their way. They want their economic engine firing on all cylinders.

Being right matters little. It is even more true today, when these folks can spin-doctor and influence pseudo news sources to make folks believe that their revenue generation is more apple pie than getting all people a square deal. This is why it is critical to advocate for change in our voting and campaign laws. They do not want to change the laws, as their influence has been enhanced by recent changes. This is why it is also critical to stay informed from good sources of news and information.

We can win arguments, but it takes effort. We win by knowing, understanding, repeating and advocating the right thing. It is already an uphill climb, so we better get our mountain boots on and start. That is the only way the right way will be the winning way.