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     Imagine that you’re negotiating around a table. Five people say, working out a thorny issue, together. Things get a bit heated and one of the parties, lays a pistol on the table. Changes things wouldn’t you say? Conversation, bonhomie, good-will, and deliberation end at the moment the threat of force is introduced.
    Most contemporary political discussions remind me of this metaphoric table before the pistol has appeared. All opinions are more or less equally weighted, backed up by the personal power or authority of the participants.  Then the gun appears.

    In our political system, the gun on the table is money. It is a political weapon. If the caliber is large enough and pointed in the right direction, it changes the terms of debate and skews the balance of power. Governor Cuomo in NY, for instance, has recently released draft regulations to govern fracking. He issued his report just ahead of the pending release of medical studies demonstrating the dangers to human health from fracking, documented in Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. For all his pronouncements about allowing ‘science’ to dictate his policy decisions, the gun got pointed and everything became ‘pliable.’
    It’s the same dynamic with Wall Street regulation; drastically unequal distribution of wealth and services in the US, safety standards on food and medicine, and the endless palaver about “the fiscal cliff.” It doesn’t matter what science and good sense say, when there are guys in the room prepared arm-up, “discussion” is a fiction. That’s the point where you we have to ask ourselves, “Is my point-of-view important enough to me to kill or die for; to make a higher priority than my own safety and comfort?” If it’s not, we should  shut-up, or accept that we like whining and complaining, but admit that we are engaged in a schoolboy's meaningless exercise which has far more to do with posturing and being “heard” than being effective.
    Until we remove private money from public elections; until we remove the ability of money to control the debate (paid ads, bought air-time); until we change the dynamic whereby our political class can gain re-election by attending to their richest (corporate) sponsors and ignoring the broad mass of people, our elections will continue to be dumb-shows for suckers, and our paltry excuses for public policy will remain exercises in humiliation, exacerbated by the fact that the only planet we have is crumbling and dying before our eyes.
    I’m not suggesting shooting the entire Congress, (though I’ve entertained such whimsies, deluding myself that one could kill an idea) but I am asserting that the time is overdue to decide what we are willing to die or kill for and then up the ante on public debate. The corporate sector has been anticipating popular blow-back for some time, and under cover of “fighting terrorism” has created frameworks in the law to allow mass incarcerations, nullify habeus corpus, institute warrantless wiretaps etc. to be ready for the day when “the people” have had enough of being disenfranchised and impoverished and begin to fight back.
    How are we going to insist that the money be taken out of the political system and that it be paid for by the people? How are we going to insist on attracting public servants to Washington instead of self-interested, well-groomed narcissists pursuing their self-interest before ours? How will we  lay our own “guns” on the table (to match theirs) and declare that the “game” of politics as presently constituted is corrupt and life destroying. In short I am asking how we can go about changing our status from impassioned losers to warriors? This seems like a discussion worth having. The rest feels like marking time.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

    by sfzendog on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 02:53:20 PM PST

  •  Strong metaphor. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thousandwatts, Mnemosyne, claude
    How are we going to insist that the money be taken out of the political system and that it be paid for by the people?
    All nations with modern constitutions (most of the world) deal with this in their constitutions.

    Generally, after the parties select candidates -- no more private funds may be used. Not even the candidate's own money. All campaign funds are provided by the government. Spending is strictly audited,

    (Parties are generally funded, as well.)


    A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

    by Pluto on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 03:10:47 PM PST

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto

      it's not that the knowledge does not exist. Virtually every European country has an eight week election cycle with no ads and no private money. What piques me is that the subject is never even on the table here.

      A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

      by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:47:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even Albert Einstein complained about that (0+ / 0-)

        ...in his day. He knew it was a structural flaw in the US constitution, which is a corporatist/slave-holder-benefiting document. That's why it is a taboo topic. He said:

        Private capital tends to become concentrated in fewer hands.

        As a result, an oligarchy of private capital forms -- the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true because the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, which are largely financed... by private capitalists.

        For all practical purposes, the electorate is entirely separated from the legislature. As a consequence, the representatives of the people do not sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population.

        Moreover, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult -- and indeed in most cases quite impossible -- for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        Our ancient constitution is DESIGNED to make politicians beholden to corporate interests. In the US, corporate interests actually write the legislation.



        A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

        by Pluto on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 12:04:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the Einstein quote (0+ / 0-)

          I'd never seen it. Of course the only thing that's actually different about the concentration of power in our system is that it happens in SPITE of titular democracy. The Europeans perhaps are under less illusions about power and its operations. But I prefer our illusions, and would like to share them.

          A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

          by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:43:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It happens because our obsolete (0+ / 0-)

            ...and entrenched constitution was written to benefit slave holders. It is a corrupt document at its foundation that cannot be corrected. And the people are terrorized by it. All other nations have modern constitutions that confer human rights. This is why the empire will collapse over the next few short years.


            A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

            by Pluto on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:52:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No fan of slavery but.... (0+ / 0-)

              The Constitution was forged out of the battles between the slaveholding and free states. They had to compromise or there would never have been a Union, later resolved in the Civil War. But to say that the entire document was "written to benefit" slaveholders is an exagerration.
              It's shameful that Washington, Jefferson and a number of others held slaves, but there were many ferocious civil libertarians who fought for freedom, and the document we have is forged from the compromise of power blocs. Wishing them away was not an option.

              A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

              by sfzendog on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:09:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Nice diary and again I am reminded of the scene in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto

    the movie "Deer Hunter", with the gentlemen gathered around the table, and a gun.

    Occupy- Your Mind. - No better friend, no worse enemy. -8.75, -6.21<> Bring the Troops Home Yesterday

    by Thousandwatts on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 03:15:13 PM PST

    •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thousandwatts

      The same thing happened in Lebanon when the government tried to take down the private phone lines of Hezbollah. Suddenly they brought their guns into the parliament and statelmated the process. It's a human problem. We're lucky that it hasn't come to actual guns yet, but will, if we don't check the slide into Third World Status for most of our population I think.

      A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

      by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:50:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heartily agree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, Pluto, Thousandwatts

    Thank you sfZenDog for writing about this.  I heartily agree with everything you have said.

    To me, the need for our law-makers to solicit private financial gifts in order to run for and stay in office is inherently corrupting.  I believe this need for our law-makers to ask wealthy and corporate interests for money is one of the reasons our law-makers say stupid things like "tax cuts for the wealthy don't cause deficits", or "use lots of oil, there is no climate change", or "regulating gun sales is bad for Americans".

    the solution seems obvious to me: make all our elections funded entirely by public money.  If our law-makers no longer need to ask wealthy and corporate interests for large financial gifts, then our law-makers will be freed to consider the needs of ALL Americans, not just the wealthy and corporations.

    I urge all kossacks to support public funding of our elections.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 03:17:05 PM PST

    •  not only corrupting (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      claude, Pluto, Thousandwatts
      the need for our law-makers to solicit private financial gifts in order to run for and stay in office is inherently corrupting
      The need to raise huge sums of money from Day One in office means that we, the taxpayers, are paying full wages to congresscritters who already work a very limited schedule -- and when they're in the office, they spend most of their time on non-productive (to us) personal business.

      It's like having a full-time employee who is in the office for two days out of five, and of those two days is spending a day and a half raising personal funds.

      The truth is rarely pure and never simple. -- Oscar Wilde

      by Mnemosyne on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:05:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read Hacker and Pierson--Winner Take All Politics (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mnemosyne

        This book chronicles precisely how the COngress has transferred wealth to the top .01% and disenfranchised the rest of us. A very good and comprehensible book.

        A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

        by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:52:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, Hugh (0+ / 0-)

      perhaps you could suggest passing the diary on? We think alike, so use mine, or write your own, but it's a subject that needs to be trumpeted, don't you think?

      A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

      by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:51:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've written about this a couple of times (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfzendog

        In my mind, the two greatest dangers that face our nation today are 1) the replacement of our democratic system of government with a system that allows the wealthy and corporate interests to buy the laws they want (what I call a corporatocracy); and 2) global climate change.

        I agree with you fully that this problem of the loss of our democracy for a corporatocracy needs the widest possible disemination and discussion - and why I thank you for addressing this issue in your article.  

        I have written about this a number of times.  I now find myself with a sort of "writer's block".  I know exactly what I want to say on this issue, but I've already said it a couple of different ways, and I now think anything else I write on this is simply repeating myself.  (Indeed, I've written so many comments that include "wealthy and corporate interests", "inherently corrupting", "soliciting private donations", etc, that I worry any readers must think I have OCD - not that too many people pay attention to what I write.).

        I am happy to recommend your article to all interested readers.

        "After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."    

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:19:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I get it (0+ / 0-)

          I typed a response to this which disappearred (I may never learn how to control my Mac Mouse), but I feel like you do. I sing the same song; stop and wait for others to pick it up, and when it's silent awhile, try again. It just seems so fundamental is all, and we keep talking around it.

          A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

          by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:48:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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