If you want to keep money out of politics, quit electing big-government politicians. It’s really that simple. However, there are legions of voters who whine about how big money corrupts government, then vote for the guy or gal who promises even more of it.
Another practical solution is term limits. It is long past time to get rid of U.S. congressmen and senators who have been in office as long, and often longer, than banana republic dictators. The list of those who have been or were in office for more than 39 years reads like a Who’s Who of the worst legislators of all time: Charlie Rangel, Robert Byrd (who had to have his cold dead fingers pried from his seat), Ted Kennedy (see Robert Byrd), John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, Chuck Grassley, Henry Waxman… the hits just keep coming.
John Adams wrote in Article VII of The Massachusetts Constitution: “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men…”
Unfortunately, John Adams’ ideal has been twisted over the years as the Federal government now exists for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of itself. We don’t have citizen representatives. Instead, we have an insulated class of royalty that enriches itself and its benefactors, while harassing its citizens with chickenshit rules and regulations. As Thomas Jefferson put it in the Declaration of Independence: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
If there is growing income disparity in America, it has more to do with the unholy alliance of big business and big government. Large corporations are perfectly fine with government piling on gigantic, incoherent regulatory bills on the American people. It makes the cost of business rise, keeping smaller competition at bay, with the added effect of creating a precipitous rise in the cost of living.
Big government programs and regulations distort the market, creating inefficiencies that hinder growth and upward mobility. The best example of this is obviously the former Soviet Union, which supplied by fiat rather than by demand. The result was waste, shortages, stagnation, and a lack of innovation that ultimately led to its collapse.
It’s really too bad that we haven’t learned from this stark example. Instead, many of us pine for the enlightened socialism of Europe. Here again, we refuse to see the reckoning that has already begun in most European nations as the productive dwindle and the unproductive multiply. Something has to give, and has given to some degree in places like Greece, and will give. The only question is: How ugly will it be when the spit hits the fan?
The United States appears to be headed down this same road, and if it’s going to be ugly in Europe, multiply that by ten here. Moreover, the repercussions for the rest of the world will be catastrophic as the nation that essentially keeps global peace implodes from its own weight (see also Empire, Roman).
But wait a minute, you might say, it’s really not that bad. Besides, the Federal government must do something when fill in your own crisis here happens.
As Rahm Emanuel famously put it, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Similarly, Dick Cheney said following 911, “One of the things that’s changed so much since September 11 is the extent to which people do trust the government – big shift – and value it, and have high expectations for what we can do.”
Bingo! There’s your problem right there, explained by the big-government left and the big-government right. The people should not have high expectations of government, especially the Federal government, or expect the Federal government to create one-size-fits-all laws in reaction to one crisis or another.
In The Spirit of The Laws, which had an important influence on the framing of the U.S. Constitution, Montesquieu wrote that “in a large republic, the common good is sacrificed to a thousand considerations; it is subordinated to exceptions, it depends upon accidents. In a small one, the public good is better felt, better known, lies nearer to each citizen…”
Any high expectations should be reserved for your local government, not the morass of indifference and money’s-no-object behemoth thousands of miles away that is by and large unaccountable to the individual citizen and beholden to monied interests.
So, if you’re concerned about the influence of money in government, the answer is not more campaign finance “reform,” which addresses a symptom of a much larger problem, while not really even addressing the symptom as big-money interests find ways around it anyway.
Better to go directly to the source and put a halt to the continued expansion of the Federal government, but this won’t happen if you continue to vote for politicians who make promises about all the fantastic things the government will do for you during their time in office. Rather, vote for the politician who promises to scale back the Federal government and allow the people to make their own decisions at the local and state levels.