Money in Politics. Is There Ethical High Ground?

Yes.  It’s relative, but it is high ground.  One’s party or world view will change one’s perspective, but from each side, there is high ground.

I think both sides would agree that where we are currently is not where we want to be.  One side’s extreme understands money to be speech and probably would decry all campaign finance reform and possibly be against disclosure rules.  I think the liberal side, when not to busy counting their own fundraising totals would largely agree with goals like public financing for campaigns – or- tight spending limits and disclosure measures that insure that one worker has the same political influence as one owner.  You know, similar to the practice of one person, one vote – i.e. democracy.

The question of ethics that John Fullerton and A1 bring up comes down to this.  In our current system, does union spending deserve a special protected designation?  That’s where this conversation heads and although JF and A1 have not specifically brought up that point in these threads, that’s where these discussions lead.

A1 and JF, you conveniently either point your fingers of indignity or cry feigned concern specifically on your political opponents while ignoring the exact same practices by the other side.  Granted Tulare County is not Humboldt, but why should Democrats be in the practice of unilateral withdrawing from generally accepted and recognized legal practices?

The reason I put in the time to create a post about the context of the two races is to show the reality of money in politics in two races.  The spending is even – money spend by Republicans is being matched by Democrats and visa versa.  These are at least two of the most highly contested races in CA.

Unfortunately, if you follow the ID numbers of the donor committees to these two races people from both sides of the aisle will generally be disgusted.   What is most frustrating to me are companies or entities like PG&E, Anheuser Busch, or *sigh* Realtor Associations, donating to both sides.   However, there do exist huge donations that are one sided. One example is Charles Munger of Berkshire Hathaway wealth who has given mind-numbing sums to the Republican Party.  Another is Phillip Morris which all alone seems to me to be a decent indicator that the ethical ground I’m standing on is at least a smidgen higher.

Back to that union spending.  The one that will always be pointed to by the Right as the boogeyman.  Our current conventional wisdom is that union and corporate spending are to be treated equivalently.  They shouldn’t.  For every union there are untold numbers of businesses.  Depending on current profits, these businesses and individuals may have untold monies to donate.  The differences in spending are staggering, if not necessarily in California, where smart money may have already begun to understand that the Republican cause is a lost one, then both nation wide and locally.

You can take a look at our local candidate’s and PAC’s financial disclosure forms to prove this to yourself.  For every $1000 from our local AFSCME chapter, there will be 10 1,500 donations from local businesses or local conservative standard-bearers and possibly even their spouses.  When you factor in the environmental issues that will wedge the union vote, then liberal causes (such as smart growth *sigh*) are handed an even greater challenge come the first Tuesday in both June and November.

So my opinion is this.  John Fullerton’s and A1’s cries of shame and concern are nothing of the sort.  What they are attempts at the very least of ethical equivalency, confusing the public just long enough for the hard work of the contributors to the No On R folks and the countless march of conservative candidates to win another election.

If not this election, I believe good news of sorts is this strategy has a shelf life and it’s time is getting near to be up.  There is not enough money,even given the huge imbalance between right and left causes, to cover up the continued denial of critical global, national and local issues such as our rapidly increasing inequity or climate change.  Eventually, the public at large will begin to notice that the Right cannot seem to answer policy questions and will one day demand more than expensive spoon-fed 30 second ads.

Hopefully that time begins this November 4th.

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3 thoughts on “Money in Politics. Is There Ethical High Ground?

  1. H Turtle says:

    Yes, there is an ethical high ground, but you don’t see many winners from that vista point. Citizens United has corrupted what was left of American Democracy. It is impossible to know who is spending how much to elect whom, and secret funding has become the norm.

    It is no coincidence that Humboldt County is run by land development interests and illegal marijuana growers. HumCPR has operated in private to shape local policy, and now the pot growers have their own private meetings to change land use laws.

    Have a nice day.

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