Intro

Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Amendment Part 2...the funding of campaigns


Imagine the difference if you had a billion dollars and you are extremely altruistic.  Now you received the billion at birth and you will live the average life span of 78 years. You decide to higher teachers in a school at the national median salary of $54,633.  To spend all 1 billion dollars you would have to spend $35,100 per day over the next 78 years to spend it all.  In other words, you could higher 1 teacher for a year every other day and still have $15,567 which means roughly every 7 days you could add another teacher to the list (you would actually be short about $148 of doing it).  Just think about how many teachers you could support over your life time. Now I know that the median will go up or go down over those years, but still, it would be an astounding number.

Or

You decide to build a hospital.  A two to three story hospital of brick and concrete construction cost in 2008 (only figures I found and it was apparently the "hay day" of hospital construction) about 12.5 million dollars. You could build 80 hospitals. To spend a billion dollars at 1 dollar per second year in and year out you would need 31 years, 259 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes and 40 seconds to get rid of it all.

A billion dollars is a lot and it could do a lot of good.

The presidential election campaigns will pass the 2 billion dollar mark it is estimated.   More money comes from the Super-Pacs; however, they are not required to disclose how much they actually spend nor are they required to disclose who contributed or how much.  The total money could be near $6 billion by the time the dust settles according to CNN.  This is for television ads, ground game offices, internet ads, campaign buses, signs, bumper stickers, etc.  This figure includes all elections.  It is in a very real sense a staggering sum.

We spend too much money on elections and most of that money comes from a very few people.  We must overcome the supreme court ruling and limit not only campaign financing but the amount of propaganda that all campaigns put out. We have so many political ads, it is a wonder that there are enough advertising minutes in a day in the battleground state to play all. What is more there seems to be no control over the accuracy of the information put into the ads.  It's not just the using of the facts or in many cases the abuse, the so-called action committees and for that matter the campaigns themselves do not have to pass any sort of truth test and for some odd reason, slander and libel also do not seem to apply in the political world. If this continues could it mean as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  put it in July that "17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they've just bought the country"?

The point is that Citizen United ruling by the Supreme Court has had significant impact.  Whether you agree or disagree with the ruling is not relevant. The Supreme Court did its job in interpreting the Constitution.  It is now up to the one group that no branch of the government can control to do its job.  If we want to control this astounding spending and force honesty into the advertisements, then we need to make this a Constitutional problem.

In addition to limiting the campaign length which could also limit money, we need transparency in the campaign and in those who support the candidates.  The super-pacs must if nothing else reveal their donors and the amount of money they spend.  I personally believe that the campaign needs to be in control.  Both candidates have received the brunt of attacks for something that a super-pac has put on TV, radio, etc. and they have no control over this. If nothing else, a super-pac ad should not be considered use of non-profit funds and should also meet rigorous standards of truth in advertising.  To mislead or lie should result in criminal and civil prosecution.  Furthermore, political advertising should have limits on the amount of time they may use.  I will admit, being in a battleground state all the money thrown has probably improved our economy, but my sanity has taken a beating with the number of advertisements that have been spewed out by all the politics.

This amendment need not be that complex.  All it needs to do is to give congress both Federal and state the right to regulate campaign contributions and the transparency of those organizations.  They can revoke, as they should, the charity status of money used in support of these campaigns.  Giving to a candidate or super-pac is not charity by any stretch of the imagination.  Congress if they so desire could even limit how much in total may be spent by campaigns or outside organizations on candidates or issues.  The cost has become such that it is apparent the average wage earner could never become president.  He or she simply doesn't have the money. Such limitations would cause less spending on advertising because the limitations would cause campaigns to consider how they spend their money and we now know in a close election, that it is not about the advertisements as it is about the ground game.

It is time for "we the people" to take back our elections.