Jan 022012

. . . and happy new year!

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times features a cover story decrying money in politics.  While the article’s authors specifically address and negatively portray “Super PACs,” their underlying premises are that: (1) large financial contributions on behalf of political campaigns by individuals and groups corrupts the political process; and (2) voters are unable to think for themselves.  For the following reasons, neither premise holds true.

Super PACs, like the one mentioned in the L.A. Times Article, provide a website to express approval of their candidate of choice and disapproval of other candidates.  I assume they provide links to sources or supply ads that fairly make their point to support their assertions and reasoning.  Such Super PACs also flood the airwaves with negative ads aimed at their favorite candidate’s opponents, and favorable ads on behalf of their chosen candidate.

I don’t see anything wrong with this, as long as the websites, ads, and depictions are accurate and fair.  Our election process is based on a free exchange of ideas.  Candidates may express why they and their ideas are best for the office for which they are running, and citizens may likewise express why they are for or against particular candidates and those candidates’ ideas.  In fact, a contributor to this site, HEK, expressed such views in the previous post.  Additionally, in this internet era, every willing mind may discover each candidate’s views simply by viewing each candidate’s website.  The internet also provides myriad opportunities to learn each candidate’s history, to view debates from previous election cycles, and to view interviews with each candidate from years past.  The ability to be exceptionally informed about practically everything has never been greater.  Indeed, voters who wish to think for themselves may certainly and readily do so.

There is nothing new about the tsunami of negative political ads that overwhelm television, radio, and — these days — you tube.  What is new is people’s ability to educate themselves on candidates and issues.

There is also nothing new in the canard that “money corrupts politics.”

The idea that money corrupts politics turns cause and effect on its head.  Why does money flow down a river of lobbyist and “special interests” to Washington D.C.?  It’s because of what politicians are able to do in return for this money.

Our Congress has appropriated power for itself that our Constitution did not delegate to Congress.  For example, Congress enabled a federal agency to oversee the post-WWII continuation of the national security interest-related, and thus constitutional, Manhattan Project.  Flash forward to the present day and that same agency has morphed into a political operation used to provide payback to the president’s political supporters.  When politicians in either the executive or legislative branches of our federal government may dole out taxpayer funded benefits to their financial supporters, a market is created for financial supporters.  If politicians lacked the power to “generously” legislate to line supporters’ pockets at taxpayer expense, and if politicians did not usurp the power to punish their non-supporters on behalf of their supporters, there would not exist a market for tremendous financial support of particular politicians.

In other words, money does not corrupt politics, politics corrupts money.  Money that would otherwise be put to productive use in the free market.  You remember the free market, don’t you?  It’s that place where producers of wealth create jobs by providing the best goods and services at the lowest prices.



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