One Reason Private Money should be excluded from Politics
I went in for a follow-up visit with my pulmonologist the other day. As it happens, the conversation took a political twist. I made the statement that Obama should have pressed for universal health coverage after the fashion of the UK and Canada. She replied that if we had that people would have to wait for dialysis and other forms of treatment because of the sheer numbers. She said one would achieve equality but the tradeoff is you would make those who need treatment wait unless they can buy it outside of the system. So, she asserted that one would have an egalitarian system but the rich would still be better treated because they would get private treatment. She is right. Universal health care in the US would still be subpar and the rich would still get better treatment. However, it would not be equal for under the existing system of campaign finance the US “enjoys,” the rich consisting of corporate, union and incredibly wealthy individual donors determine how and what public policy is written—laws—by using their money to pick candidates to their liking and which candidates either will do their bidding (through the use of lobbyists) or who are predisposed to their positions. She is right because in the United States the rich make the rules, the laws, through their private contributions to politicians running for office or re-election; and, the rich finance public advertising campaigns asserting this or that.
Just as campaign contributing donors would write the rules for universal health care, as they have for most policies over the history of the United States, they would write the rules for the plan in this blog for distributing new money to citizens. The growing concentration of wealth in the US (and other countries for that matter) and the growing disparity between the income of those with wealth and the rest of us, is the strongest evidence to demonstrate the validity of the proposition that if the campaign contributing donors write the rules, there will be more opportunities for them to increase their wealth even further as the plan for distributing new money to citizens is detailed and passed into law. But what if the rich did not make the rules? What if we made private contributions to campaigns illegal, all gifts of any kind to candidates for office illegal—call a bribe a bribe? And we went further and make candidates spending their own money or resources on campaigns illegal?
So, step one in implementing the plan for distributing new money to citizens is to reform campaign election financing and take big money out of determining candidates, outcomes and public policy—make it illegal for any use of private money or resources to support an election or reelection to an office or in support of any ballot proposal. In short, if the US is to achieve electoral equality and not have public policy favoring the wealthy, private money has to be taken out of elections. So, my digression into campaign finance is not as much of a digression as one would think at first blush.