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Delivering the mail

April 20, 2015

An aging Baby Boomer mailman lands a gyrocopter on the White House lawn and the press goes nuts. Not over not his reason for doing it but the security breach, and his actual message is lost in that apparently more newsworthy issue.

OK, this was a dumb stunt, if for no other reason than he should have known that his message would be drowned out by his actions. The best face anyone in the White House security forces can put on it is that they knew about him ahead of time and didn’t consider him enough of a threat to blast him out of the sky.

But the guy does have a point.

Doug Hughes is upset about the corrupting influence of big money on our political system. Specifically, the purchase of politicians by big money donors.

Estimates are that when Hillary Clinton is sitting around waiting for the election results in November 2016, her campaign will have spent from 2 to 2.5 Billion dollars to get her to that point. Her opponent, whoever that turns out to be, will probably have spent a similar amount, and that doesn’t even count what was invested in the rest of the Republican presidential hopeful primary campaigns or the total amount spent for all 2016 elections.

The fact that people and organizations buy politicians isn’t exactly a new story. In fact it’s as old as time. It’s just a lot more obvious since the Citizens United decision.

It is reported that the 2012 Presidential race cost $2 billion, and the total for all the contests in 2012 topped $7 billion. That report by the Economist also attempts to explain why the candidates need so much money. In the internet age some of that reasoning falls flat, but that’s another topic.

It’s worth noting that in 2000 the total cost of the presidential and congressional elections was reported at just under 3.1 billion, and the presidential election spending was just under 50% of that total, at 1.4  billion.

Sure, some of that came from donors who contributed less than $200, but the vast majority of it today comes from super-PACs, lobbyists, unions or just well-heeled individuals at $10,000-a-plate dinners.

By any standard, 2 billion dollars is a pretty good chunk of change. In fact, most of us can’t even comprehend that figure.

Just for kicks, let’s see what that kind of dough could do for the country if it wasn’t spent on buying influence.  Remember, theoretically, all that money comes out of the American economy, as foreign nationals are prohibited by law from contributing. It is worth noting that green card holders, although they are not citizens, are not considered foreign nationals.

Taking the low end of the estimate just for Mrs. Clinton,  $2 billion would provide a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job, at $15.00 an hour for 64,102 people for a year.

Sans subsidies, it would pay for a $328/mo ($3936/yr) ACA health insurance plan for a year for 508,130 people.

It would pay $1100 in monthly rent for 1,818,182 months.

You get the picture. And that’s just for one candidate. In 2016, that’s probably 25% of the total to be spent.

No one invests that kind of money without expecting a return on investment. Well, no one that is, except the American voter.

Because make no mistake…even if you have never given any candidate one red cent, you ARE paying for it.

Whether you think it will ever be changed or not,  it would at least seem that Mr. Hughes’ mail would  be a worthwhile letter to read.

From → op-ed

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