cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
This phrase is simplistic but all too true when we look at politics and law-making. Given the relatively low cost of running for local or county office, the money required is not "big money". At the local level and county levels the "money" may be more the chance to rub shoulders with those who are successful, or to be able to be seen with important politicians or business people.
At the state level, "big money" is at play; big by how most of us would define that. The teachers' union spends millions to buy elections on behalf of those it knows will be supportive. And it seems to get its money's worth more times than not. In some cases, WEAC has had to wait but, as we saw with the QEO, they finally got what they were after. Trial lawyers spend a lot of money to buy what they want, and more often than not get what they wanted. Our current Governor Doyle has raised huge amounts of money over his state election 'career', and he has usually delivered for that influential constituency.
Republicans have their money machines, too. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is a heavy hitter for Republicans. Insurance companies have typically played both sides of the street as have corporations, public service companies and so on. But, big money is always at work and it gets things done.
While we can find our way around in Madison and see officials or staffers, there is a rule that most don't seem to understand. There is "access", and then, there is "ACCESS".
Then, moving to the national level, we find just how large the money machines can become. Howard Dean just admitted, for example, that tort law reform was not even considered as part of the current health care reform push. He said, "When you go to pass an enormous bill like that, the more stuff you put in it, the more enemies you make. The reason that tort reform is not in this bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everyone else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth...this bill has enough enemies. The more you take on, the more enemies you make."
Tort reform could've taken some $200 billion of health care expense out of the equation over ten years, and the trial lawyers were so feared, and their money was so important, that reform this meaningful was not even attempted. That is $200 billion of our tax dollars that weren't even considered for being saved.
General Electric, through all its varied holdings, has been working for health care reform because it knows it is positioned to take significant advantage of that reform. It has been pumping money and influence into the game as the result. Its news networks pump up health care reform. Its various companies work their employees to be supportive.
"Following the money" is, unfortunately, the best road map anyone could have in order to work one's way through the process of major legislation.
We, the people, do not have much clout unless we use our vote in the most effective manner. We can try to hurt businesses by taking our business elsewhere, but the tentacles of a "GE" are so intertwined with our daily lives that we don't stand a chance with boycotts.
All we have is our freedom of speech and our right to vote. And yet, even in the most important elections, we see turn-outs of slightly over 60%. And, our freedom of speech is constantly under threat from agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission that decides what is "fair" so far as program content. We are outmatched by the likes of the ACORNs of our country, and most of us don't even understand what an ACORN is.
It would seem that our apathy enables the big money to have its way. We are always but a few steps away from losing rights, but we don't seem to be concerned. We don't "think" nearly so much as we "feel" today. Our emotions rule our actions far more often than our reasoned thoughts determine those actions.
Will it take the wholesale usurpation of our basic rights before we awake? Our only real weapons are our votes and our voices.
The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled 'Pass One For The "Gipper"'.