They Don't Call It Capitalism for Nothing
What's the first thing a prospective candidate must consider before running for elective office? If you answered "money," you've learned how the system works. Known as the "mother's milk of politics," money can be the catapult that lifts someone over the crowd and into the mainstream of American opinion and influence. In the upcoming 2012 election, cash will continue to be king, as the two major political parties spend obscene amounts to convince voters that they are the best and the brightest the country has to offer. The question is, or should be, if they are such paragons of leadership and virtue, why does it take hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars to sell them to the electorate? I'm afraid the answer is that most people are too lazy, uneducated, or just plain stupid to do their own research and make up their minds based on their findings and their personal belief system. Recognizing the above, politicians who are ethically or morally challenged will sprinkle the dough re me like raindrops on a cornfield until they create a persona that makes them appear to be challenging Mother Teresa for sainthood.
Crony capitalism is a phrase being used often in the current campaign, but it is merely a euphemism for corruption. It simply means that some people have enough wealth to buy political clout. The issue of campaign contributions has been debated to death, with many believing it's a freedom of speech issue. In other words, if you have an extra million bucks lying around, why should you be restrained from giving it to the candidate of your choice? Last year, when you wanted that Lamborghini Aventador Coupe, you plunked down $500K and simply drove it out of the showroom. Therefore, why shouldn't you be able to buy a mayor, governor, or even a president if you have the gelt (pardon the Yiddish expression) to do it?
Well, there's ample evidence to conclude that the aforementioned has been done numerous times already. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, was a huge contributor to Barack Obama's successful 2008 campaign and somehow, perhaps by magic, was able to skirt federal taxes last year. The company earned $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, but didn't pay a penny in taxes because it took advantage of a mind-numbing complexity of loopholes and tax shelters. Then, to add crony capitalism to in-your-face corruption, the president appointed this corporate crony to serve as the chairman of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Never mind that GE is moving thousands of jobs to China.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, is being accused of crony capitalism for accepting contributions from Merck Pharmaceuticals, the company that created a new vaccine to combat the Human Papillomavirus, which is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. Perry signed an executive order mandating that all 11- and 12 year-old girls must be vaccinated against the disease. Critics say he has ties to the company that go back many years. I refuse to believe that Perry would do something to purposely harm those children, but, I'd feel a lot better if I knew that he took his action without accepting contributions from the company that stands to make billions if they can get mass distribution of the vaccine.
This is an example of the problem we have with money in politics. How can we ever be sure that the decisions made by our leaders are not based on the amount of shekels stuffed in Swiss bank accounts, compliments of their well-heeled benefactors? Have you ever seen a homely old codger sitting with his arm around a young, gorgeous babe at a ritzy resort restaurant? Do you think that guy believes the doll is with him because he's a sexy rascal? I suppose, in real life, as in the movies, we often suspend disbelief.
We're supposed to believe that rich people give away their greenbacks to politicians with no expectation of a quid pro quo. Well, they didn't get rich by being moronic with their moola. Speaking of getting rich, have you noticed how many politicians retire with a lot more money than they had when they took the oath of office? Are we to believe that they multiplied their capital because of wise investments, unmotivated and unassisted by the power of their influence?
Maybe we should just admit that monetary muscle will always carry the most weight in matters of state. They don't call it a capitalist system for nothing.