Monday, April 10, 2006

Old Ed. And more 

"Representative government in the United States has broken down. Our legislators do not represent the public, the voters or even those who voted for them but rather the commercial-industrial interests that finance their political campaigns, and control the organs of communication-the TV, the newspapers, the billboards, the radio. Politics is a game for the rich only. Representative government in the USA represents money, not people, and therefore has forfeited our allegiance and moral support. We owe it nothing but the taxation it extorts from us under threats of seizure or property, imprisonment or in some cases already, when resistted, a violent death by gunfire."

-Ed Abbey; Eco Defense, from One Life at a Time Please, 1988

Yup, sure we're represented by those with our best interests in mind. Not that Ed is perhaps the most unbiased voice out there, but can this statement be refuted?

"Historically, social class is intertwined with all kinds of events and processes in our past. Our governing system was established by rich men, following theories that emphasized government as a bulwark of the propertied class. Although rich himself, James Madison worried about social inequality and wrote The Federalist #10 to explain how the proposed government would not succomb to the influence of the affluent. Madison did not fully succeed, according to Edward Pessen, who examined the social-class backgrounds of all American presidents through Reagan. Pessen found that more than 40 percent hailed from the upper class, mostly from the upper fringes of that elite group, and another 15 percent originated in families located between the upper and upper-middle-classes. More than 25 percent came from a solid upper-middle-class background, leaving just six presidents, or 15 percent, to come from the middle and lower-middle classes and just one, Andrew Johnson, representing any part of the lower class."

-"Lies My Teacher Told Me", James W. Loewen (1995)
- "The Log Cabin Myth", Edward Pessen (1984)

Anyone can become President, indeed.

Total spending by Presidential candidates (in millions):

1976 $66.9
1980 $92.3
1984 $103.6
1988 $210.7
1992 $192.2
1996 $239.9
2000 $343.1
2004 $717.9 (!!)

What an encouraging trend that is, eh?

"Anyone running for president has to raise a lot of money. But candidates with a realistic chance of winning the election must collect enormous sums for their campaigns. President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, for example, raised a total of nearly half a billion dollars in private contributions during the presidential primary season.

As the Republican and Democratic nominees, Bush and Kerry each received $74.6 million in government funding for the general election. In return, they could not raise or spend private funds after accepting their party's nomination. They were entitled to government matching funds during the primaries, but turned them down to free themselves of federally mandated spending limits. Their decision (and that of Howard Dean, who also rejected matching funds) helped to make this presidential election the most expensive in history.

So, without money, you don't stand a chance. Let's ignore that aspect for a minute. Can anyone think of anything that could be done with almost $720 million? Could any charity benefit? Or the impoverished? Perhaps the public school system? If candidates are spending an inordinate amount of their time worrying about (re)election and are working or raising funds, how much time and energy is left to be applied to their current job of say, President of the USA or Senator? Misguided money and energy, perhaps? At least that campaign money was used to promote the good of the candidate and not to sling mud...

Yup, I continue to have total faith in our elected officials and the manner in which our Federal government is functioning.

Let me end my rant with a definition. Of democracy. Scratch that. I found a couple of sites that are inclined to point out that we, in fact, live in a republic ("...and to the Republic, for which it stands", not a democracy. Check them out: here and here. Call it semantics or even a moot point, but perhaps we should stop preaching 'democracy' to the rest of the world (especially those countries in which we force the idea...)

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com