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September 25, 2014


I attribute the foregoing irrational situation described in Part II not altogether to the rich and superrich who have discovered that they can buy their way out of most anything with the right connections; I also attribute it to a clueless Congress whose members have abandoned the public interest for the mammon of “campaign contributions,” as such bribes are euphemistically described. It seems many members of Congress are more interested in reelection than they are in representing the public interest, not only of that of their own constituents, but that of the nation as a whole.

Much more is involved than representation of some 600,000 constituents in a given (and perhaps gerrymandered) space by a House member, for instance. Pollution and climate change and other fiscal and environmental problems do not begin and end at the edge of such a congressional district, so I think it is time to ignore such representatives’ excuses that they are acting “on behalf of their constituents.”

Theirs is a federal office and their duties to the nation involve voting for national priorities as well as the narrower interests of “their constituents” for bridges to nowhere and placement of defense industry factories in their districts and the like. As an extreme example, is such a congress person entitled to play the “constituents card” if a majority of his or her constituents happen to be Muslims intent on adoption of Sharia law as national policy? Does he or she “represent the wishes of his/her constituents” or is it time to break out the “national interest” card in order to preserve what is left of our Western culture and our increasingly tattered democracy due to Citizens United and government surveillance? Should that vote, as now in far too many cases, depend upon campaign contributions? Is that the new norm in politics, where with a mere nod to the democracy that it is destroying, our politicians (playing whatever “card” fits the situation) sputter on to the economic and political cliff they have fashioned for us?

Coastlines in California and Virginia with their wealthy denizens who build Taj Mahals on the beach and who disproportionately influence national priorities with their selfishly-inspired payment of “campaign contributions” in order to avoid paying honest insurance rates based on actuarially-computed computations of risk, leaving the rest of such payments for their inevitable losses to the rest of us, amount to only one of such situations. Take New Jersey. John Rosenow, founder of the Arbor Day Foundation and editor of its Arbor Day Journal, points out in its current issue that “It is hard to imagine the magnitude of Superstorm Sandy that pounded the east coast in October of 2012; that is was the largest-diameter Atlantic hurricane on record, and that as magnified by the effects of climate change, made it the second-most damaging storm in U.S. history, surpassed only by Katrina. He notes that many lost their lives and that millions of trees were lost to wind, flood waters and salt water damage.

So how do you congress people from hilly Colorado and mile-high Denver vote on aid to your drowned fellow Americans in New Jersey? Do you just say that it’s their problem, not yours? Which card do you play, your “constituents” card or your “national interest” card?

When laws are effectively made by a minority in a supposed democracy, the first rule of democracy, that we are self-governing and governed by the will of the majority, is relegated to myth – and in plain view – all of which points up the desperate need for public campaign financing in the hope that our politicians will vote in the public interest and that the rich or otherwise influential among us are governed by the same rules the rest of us live by in a reinvigorated democracy.

Oh, and one last thing in connection with a recent Supreme Court finding that money is speech – it isn’t, it’s just money, which in itself is just an inert collection of paper. It’s not the money per se but rather what this paper commands in its influence on the lives of the rest of us and our families that my commentaries are designed to address, and that, in my view, is both a local and national and even global concern for all of us, from prince to pauper.   GERALD   E




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