by Britt Storkson
William Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage”. Nowadays government is more like a stage with actors (bad actors, at that) and a script than it is a deliberative body. Often “floor fights” and other legislative antics are staged for the purpose of extracting campaign contributions from both sides of the issue and not to make good law or policies.
Why do politicians collect campaign contributions from both sides? Politicians collect campaign contributions not only to support or push legislation but they collect campaign contributions to not oppose certain legislation. That way they can claim to be against this or that problem legislation and yet do nothing to oppose it.
A word about campaign contributions: The problem with campaign contributions is not that we have them. The problem is that they are not fully reported or traceable. If you claim that to the IRS that certain funds came from this or that source you had better have a paper trail to prove that or you risk jail time.
Misrepresenting the source of funds is one form of money laundering. If you misrepresent the source of funds to the IRS it’s a crime. If you misrepresent the source of campaign funds to the voters it’s not a crime. While campaign finance reporting has names and numbers associated with them there is no requirement that the true origins of the money be revealed.
For example it is illegal for monopoly utilities to give campaign contributions directly to candidates. However they get around this restriction by giving the money to trade organizations who then give the money to the candidates. And that’s legal. This immunity from scrutiny is just one of many things our money we pay to the monopoly utilities buys for them. In short, they use our money to shaft us.
Just how does this theater play out? Let’s say that representative “Joe Blow” has to vote on a certain piece of legislation. He collects campaign contributions from both sides but he doesn’t do that directly. He collects money mostly from special interest or trade groups on both sides of the issue that have “connections” with Joe Blow. These special interest groups are almost always are tax-exempt non-profits who also get a “cut” (sometimes a substantial cut) of the money donated.
Representative Joe Blow then stages a “horse race” by sending carefully worded e-mails, snail-mails and other communication to those on both sides of the issue assuring them that he/she is “fighting” for them. Often there are appeals from the special interest groups funding Rep. Blow for more donations to insure success. “Your donation of $10, $25, $50 or $100 will help insure that this issue passes” or something along those lines. How many times have you heard that?
One irony of all of this is that most of the time Representative Blow doesn’t care whether the legislation is passed or defeated. Rep. Blow cares about the issue only for the campaign contributions it will generate. A perverse side-effect of this stage show is that for freedom and liberty issues like the 2nd amendment rights repeated assaults drain the time, energy and (often very limited) money of those who care about those rights…And that is no accident; It’s part of the strategy.
I will close with this final thought. Why do we have to pay for our freedoms? Our freedom and liberty are what we are and cannot be bought or sold. It is our nature as Americans. Just like honesty and integrity is what we are. I cannot pay you to be honest if you are dishonest. You may be honest for a time in the hope of getting more money from me but I cannot make you and honest person if you are by nature dishonest.
You who are parents: Do you pay your children not to lie, not to steal, not to defraud (swindle) people? Of course not. You expect them to be honest and straightforward in their dealings. If they are not they have a big problem.
Likewise why do we pay our politicians to maintain our basic freedoms?