Sensational politics get press, but the real problems are routine

My eye doctor went to jail for taking a bribe as North Carolina Speaker of the House a few years ago. He is a nice man, but got caught doing something wrong. The Charlotte Mayor will be going to jail soon for selling influence he did not really have. He lasted only three months in office. The former Virginia Governor apparently likes nice things and will be going to jail with his wife. The current South Carolina Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House are accused of wrong doing with campaign funds. The former South Carolina Governor preferred to walk the Appalachian Trail with his soul mate than govern the state.

The former California Governor fathered a child out-of-wedlock and was accused of free hands by several women. The former San Diego Mayor was envious of the Governor and decided to grope even more women. The former New Orleans Mayor is going to jail for malfeasance following suit with a former Detroit Mayor. A New York Governor resigned when he used public money to frequent a prostitute at the same time he was clamping down on illicit prostitution. The former Illinois Governor decided to peddle an open seat in Congress and went to jail where four of the previous five Illinois Governors ended up.

On the Federal level, we had one President who resigned before he would have been impeached for running a burglary ring from the White House. About 50 people went to jail for various crimes, including his two highest ranking officials. We had another President who came close to being impeached for selling arms to Iranians to pay for military actions in Central America and then lied about it to the American people, known as the Iran-Contra affair.  We had another President who had more than a few peccadilloes and lied to the American people about one that occurred in the Oval Office. We have had varying degrees of malfeasance and sexual inanity in Congress ranging from bribery to insider trading to wide stances to sending pictures of private parts to impress a would-be lover. Truth is stranger than fiction. And, I could go on.

These are the sensational items that make for good reading. They represent the worst of politics, but they do not represent what happens routinely in politics. While there are a great number of politicians who sincerely try to do the right thing, the amount of money needed to win elections is so great and so opaque, puzzling decisions are made that are not reflective of the problem at hand or what most people want. And, some decisions never get made which is probably the best description of Congress I can make. Why for example would you not want the FDA to govern the supplemental drug industry which is fraught with potentially harmful misinformation, while they are asked to govern the prescription and over the counter drug industry? The answer lies in the significant funding the supplemental drug industry pays to fund a decision they want.

Why would you not be in favor of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau both before and after it was created? The CFPB has only fined financial institutions $4 Billion for aggressive and fraudulent marketing practices, with over 90% of those monies going to defrauded customers. Bank of America was hit with the largest fine, over $775 million, for selling products to customers that they did not ask for. The answer lies in heavy funding by the financial services industry of politicians. The funding was able to exclude auto loans from the governance by the CFPB when the law passed. It should be noted the next credit crisis we will have will be from the auto loan industry.

Along these same lines, why would states not be harder on the pay-day lending industry which preys on poor people and military families. Pay-day lenders are one step above leg breakers with annual interest quickly exceeding 500% when loan after loan is made to pay off earlier loans. There are examples of interest rates in the 1000% to 2000% range. So, why would the state of Texas appoint a pay-day lending Vice President to head the commission that oversees pay-day lending? Why would we not be concerned about these companies preying on anyone, but especially our military families, with one member oversees and a spouse at home making a perilous decision.

Not to be outdone, in North Carolina, the Mining and Energy Commission which oversees the consideration and development of fracking regulations after a fracking law was passed, is stacked with people from the fracking industry including its former and current chairs. As reported by The Charlotte Observer, the former chair held several clandestine meetings with fracking industry representatives to help write laws that would pass muster, but give them more license. The chair also uttered the phrase we are more likely to be hit by meteor than fracking fluid getting in the water supply. It should be noted Duke University, which sits 25 miles from state capitol, in concert with two other universities, proved there is groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania and Texas from faulty cement casings around the fracking tubing. Watch out for meteors.

The concern many have is with an US Congress that does not come together to accomplish anything. Decisions are made or not made based on funding and lobbyists and less on the veracity of the issues. Decisions are made or not made as an issue has become political, so an idea favored by the other party has to be wrong and defeated as we will win votes that way. Rather than fix imperfect legislation, we would rather defeat it. Teachers say the Common Core is not perfect, but don’t throw it out, but the Tea Party has made it a lightning rod of federal government control. It matters less that the US is 27th in math, 20th in science and 17th in reading rankings in the world.

These are the more troubling aspects as they happen everyday and will continue to happen with it requiring so much money to get elected. They do not get the headlines of a Congressman sending a text with a picture of his private parts, but the catering to monied interests are a more consistent concern. Please focus your representatives attention on the issues. Here is what is wrong. Let’s fix this. And, let’s fix it before it becomes a bigger problem.