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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Lobbyists, money, politics and the solution

--posted by Tony Garcia on 1/28/2006

I have been hesitant to post anything on the whole Abramoff scandal. Why? Because there is too much that still needs to be discovered and, honestly, the stupid ideas on how to fix this whole debacles will be the only ones to be heard.

How do you fix the system? Well, I look back to a general philosophy of the Founding Federalists. They understood what was in human nature and created ways to use human nature rather than fighting that nature.

Accept realities. Most politicians are very crooked. All of them speak out of both sides of their mouth (with the very rare exception). Money is speech. Money is to politics what gasoline is to NASCAR. If money is made difficult to reach legally than polticians/lobbyists will find grey areas in the laws or, as my co-host mentioned in defending DeLay, they will use "legal loopholes".

So stop fighting these truths. Open up the spicket. Money will always find its way into politics so let it. Remove the limits on contributions and there will be no incentive to hide the money. Remove the restrictions on who can give to candidates and there will be no incentive to launder money.

The only catch: reporting must be immediate and available via the web.

Face it. The only two ways to keep financial scandals out of politics as realistically as possible are to ban all money or allow it all. In order to ban it all you have to get around the fact that money actually does equal speech and not just in political races. Additionally you have to make every aspect of a campaign free. Lawn signs, brochure printing, sticker printing, phone banking expenses, polling, staff would have to be subsidized, travel, television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, billboards, postage...you get the idea. I am very much against this.

The other option is to allow it all in. Doing so lets us see where everyone is. A lobbyist representing the Widget industry is pouring $5 billion a day to the Something Party? Well, you know where the Something Party's interests are. Regardless of how you look at a candidate, as being bought by donors or by being funded by people who share beliefs, this system will tell you what they believe (or are being paid to believe). It is the most open system possible.

Oh, yes, I hear the peanut gallery already. "The poor would have no place in the system then." That is fiction. The "special interest" groups represent every segment of our population in almost every permeation possible. Everyone has a voice. Look at labor unions or the AARP for example. Even freaks have a lobby (called ACORN). Even race baiters have a lobby (Rainbow Coalition).

The other fiction that I know will surface is the idea that elections will be bought. Nope. Not true. Just like the gasoline in NASCAR, you MUST have it but it does not guarantee victory. Better gas helps, more gas is good but the race still depends on the driver. Same thing with elections. The message and the candidate still have to run their race.

The solution to corruption in politics is to make the money situation as open as possible. The only way to do that is to end the limits and end the restrictions.


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