Skip to comments.The Game is Rigged, Regardless of Who’s in Charge
Posted on 06/09/2014 3:36:55 AM PDT by Kaslin
Theres too much money in politics, right? Lawrence Lessig has a new plan to solve an old problem. He wants to end moneys outsize influence on the political process, which subverts democracy and drowns out the masses to do the bidding of the well-to-do few. Most people are taking issue with his method of attack, which is (and I am not making this up) injecting more money from rich old white guys to drown out the money from the other old rich white guys.
But rather than take issue with his solution, lets talk about what he gets right. A Princeton study has confirmed our suspicions that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy.
Perhaps not shockingly, the wealthy hold different policy positions than the poor. But whereas rich people regularly find their policy preferences enacted into law, poor people do not. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy. Your vote matters. Unless youre poor, in which case, not so much.
Enter campaign finance reform. The theory goes like this. First, rich people fund political campaigns. Generally the better funded campaign ends up winning. So money buys elections and rich people get what they want. Were good on the first part. But the theory falls apart when it says that money always wins. It sounds right, but doesnt stand up to scrutiny.
In politics there is certainly no linear relationship between amount of money and degree of success, according to Robert Shrum, a senior fellow at New York Universitys Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
In addition, University of Missouri at Columbia economics professor Jeff Milyo explains that correlation isnt causation. The same qualities which win votes -- charisma, popular policy positions, etc. -- also win dollars.
So how might rich people get their favored policies enacted if not through buying elections?
Well, theres a whole host of ways. They fund think tanks, they offer sitting politicians land deals, stock tips and low-interest loans. They buy newspapers and television stations. How many ways are there for rich people to buy influence? There are at least as many ways as there are for addicts to buy drugs, or killers to buy guns. And the legality of the purchase affects all transactions to the same degree: not really much at all.
Rich people have their interests represented in politics because theres a lot of money on the line for them to do so. Just like addicts want drugs, rich people want that influence. And they get it. The evidence is all around us. Corporations are literally writing the laws which regulate their industries.
You can tell rich people own the political process because theyre the only ones who got bailed out in the last financial crisis. You can tell rich people run this game because laundering billions of dollars for known terrorists will get you a small fine while not reporting $1 million in bitcoin will get you house arrest.
The system under which we live fines judges for sentencing people to prison for using drugs while she is high on drugs. It steals peoples houses and gives them to pharmaceutical companies. It steals people cars without charging them with a crime.
That doesnt mean the poor and middle class dont sometimes get their way. Handouts, from entitlements to the mortgage interest tax deduction, help keep people pacified. But theyre handed out in lieu of real reform.
Campaign finance reform comes down to arguing about who gets to decide who gets to be umpire of a game which is, at its core, rigged. And its rigged in favor of the rich. Electoral politics is mostly cage matches in the gladiator arena they use to distract us. Its the circus, and entitlements are the bread.
Lawrence Lessigs plan to use different rich white guys to decide whos runs this disgusting system wont get anything accomplished. But at least its voluntary. Usually campaign finance reform amounts to free speech violations and policies aimed at protecting incumbents.
Ultimately, the problem isnt that theres too much money in politics. It might be that theres too much politics in money. But its mostly that theres too much politics, period.
I want rich people fo own our politicians. They’re smarter than us. After all, look how well things are going?
It’s the Golden Rule. Them as got the gold, make the rules.
After all, what is money for, if not to buy personal satisfaction? And if the personal satisfaction comes from running social experiments, how is that different from letting some young lad explore the world of chemistry through their own Gilbert Scientific chemistry set?
Oh, yeah, that’s right, those got pretty much outlawed in the 1970’s or so, and those home chemistry sets that exist today are only very pale and limited versions of the originals, that launched any number of serious chemists.
So, should we sort of limit the social experimentation too?
Largely true when the universe, statistically speaking, is dems and pubbies; however, if the universe of possible leaders included conservatives/tea partiers and libertarians, then we haven’t seen that yet.
[ Enter campaign finance reform. The theory goes like this. First, rich people fund political campaigns. Generally the better funded campaign ends up winning. So money buys elections and rich people get what they want. Were good on the first part. But the theory falls apart when it says that money always wins. It sounds right, but doesnt stand up to scrutiny. ]
In all the recent GOP primaries their Tea party opposituion has been outspent in some cases 20 to 1 and even if the establishment candidate wins it is with less than 60% of the vote and they are still declareing it a great “victory” over the tea party, but it you figure the amount of money spent per vote the establishment is clearly losing ground to the these tea party upstarts.
There really is only one way to fix this, and that is to DRASTICALLY reduce the scope and reach of Government.