The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that corporations can spend unlimited funds to back election candidates. In so doing, the conservative majority of five judges equated corporations to people and the corporate financing of campaigns to free speech. In their zest for the Bill of Rights, however, they failed to mention the effect of their opinion on the increased disenfranchisement of the American voter.
President Obama condemned the ruling and called for Congress to tackle the problem. However, it is fully apparent that, under this Supreme Court, anything that Congress can come up with will be ruled unconstitutional.
Democratic Senator Chuck Shumaker called the decision "disastrous." Schumer went on to say: "Now, robber barons can act like parasites striking at the very roots of our democracy."
The new political environment created by the Supreme Court, today, may well be slow death for the Democratic Party and the liberal interests in the country. It also does not bode well for conditions along Main Street. If the loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat represented a problem of Mount Washington proportions for the Democrats, today's action by the high court was Mount Everest.
The purchase of political influence, which is what we're talking about here, is essentially bribery. It eats away at the fabric of any system where it exists and causes a significant erosion in the quality of life for the average citizens involved, while benefiting the elite. It is far from new here in the United States. It has just reached a new level.
The impact of money in politics, under the rules in existence until today, has already created or exacerbated nearly every major problem we have. Lord only knows where it will go from here.
Moneys from the defense and energy industries have paid for unnecessary wars. The healthcare industry's funds have successfully fought off all previous attempts at reform, thus creating the most expensive system in the world and far from the most effective. And who has benefited from those high costs? The healthcare industry has, of course.
Name any problem and you can probably trace it to the tons of money flowing into Washington, not to mention those luxurious perks. This includes immigration, energy dependence, the proliferation of handguns and, of course, the concern that is most on our minds today - the Great Recession. In the years leading up to the economic meltdown, the financial sector paid tens of millions of dollars to those who should have been minding the store so they would look the other way.
The specifics of the forgoing political payments can easily be found on the websites of the Federal Election Commission and of non-profit, non-partisan organizations such as Common Cause and the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org.)
The Supreme Court has become a national disgrace. By virtue of the unlimited terms of its members it is constantly out of step. Whether it will ever be corrected is problematic, however. because there will always be those who will side with the controversial decisions, just as the conservatives are doing today.
One thing is sure to come out of this, however. Spending on campaigns will reach heights previously thought to be unattainable.
Dave McGill, News Correspondent
Dave’s column, "The Contrarian," generally published every Friday, to Gather Essential News and other groups will sometimes present a contrary view to various aspects of the news, or an alternate take on the conventional wisdom of the day. It will also often appear on other days of the week
Dave has been a senior officer of an eastern insurance company, involved in economic projections and investment strategy, president of a Midwestern mortgage banking company, and a financial consultant in Southern California, serving clients in the field of commercial real estate development.
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