Campaign Finance Reform: Barking Up the Wrong Tree

by Jeff Williams

If you pay attention to politics, the biggest problem of the day seems to be campaign finance laws. Who broke what law, who bended which law? Who sold access to the Lincoln Bedroom, who sold access to the Speaker's office? Do people spend money to gain access to politicians? Yes, and both parties do it routinely, so don't be hypocrite and make it out to be a one-party problem. There is a big problem today, but it isn't where the politicians want you to think that it is.

The amount of money spent on political campaigns is obscene. But to focus on campaign financing alone is a bit distracting. However, there is a good reason why people choose to focus on the money coming into the politicians. My take on the whole issue is simple...I don't care so much about the money coming in, I care more about the money going OUT.

And for one simple reason...the money that is going out is MY money!

Why are we choosing to make our campaign finance laws even more complex? Why are there proposals to limit the first amendment rights of our citizens and to limit the amount of money that they can donate to a particular candidate at a particular time? This is a typical short term solution to a long term problem, a quick fix to a problem that needs a major rehaul. But nobody wants to fix the bigger problem...nobody is even TALKING about the bigger problem.

Limits on campaign donations are not the problem. They never have been. And any attempts to fix the problem by limiting the right of donation is simply not going to work. People either donate small amounts of money or they donate large amounts of money. And the people that donate large amounts of money can do it for one simple reason...they view it as an investment. Nobody will donate large sums of money to the government unless they are trying to gain something in RETURN from that same government.

Let say there was a party that you had to pay $10 to get into. However, once you entered the party, people were handing out $20 bills. Would you mind shelling out ten dollars to get into that party? And wouldn't you think that the line to that party would be around the corner? Well, cutting the cover charge to $5 and placing an occupancy limit on the party certainly won't change the real problem...that somebody is giving away $20 bills inside that party!

If you are heading up a business that recieves $3 million dollars a year from the government in business subsidies, it only makes sense that you will spend as much as $2.9 million dollars to lobby that same government to continue those subsidies. How much money do companies like Archer-Daniels-Midland or Gallo Wines donate to political campaigns each year? And do companies like Gallo Wines really CARE who gets elected? There are many contributors that donate EQUAL amounts of money to BOTH political parties? Who do they wish to see win the elections? They don't care WHO wins the elections...all that they care is that THEY win. All that they care is that the candidate that they donate money will continue to return the favor with a return contribution...from the federal budget.

There is only one reason why a political contibutors would donate a large sum to a politician...they expect something in return. I don't have a problem with anybody whose intentions when lobbying the government are lower taxes...but only is it is a lower tax rate for EVERYBODY. The problem is that the politicians can't afford a lower tax rate for everybody. So more often than not, the favor that a campaign contribution will get is a targeted tax cut, or continued government subsidies, or a favorable vote that may give a legal advantage to one business over its competition.

So it is hypocritical to accuse your opponent of accepting money from a candidate who is trying to "buy" your influence. It is hypocritical to accuse your opponent of trying to "sell" your influence for a campaign contribution. All politicians are guilty. Both the Democrat and Republican parties are guilty. Nobody every donated a large sum of money out of the goodness of their heart. Anyone who donates a large sum of money to a politician does it with a wink and a nudge and a circled date on the legal calendar. If the government is handing out checks, or creating legislation to favor one business over another, then there is going to be a long line of people waiting in that recieving line ready to pay the cover charge to get into that party. I don't care whether the banners at that party say National Endowment for the Arts or Archer-Daniels-Midland. I don't care if the party is for the rich or for the poor. All that I care about is the fact that it is still MY m! ! oney, and I resent the fact that people are having a party at MY expense.

Campaign finance reform is an effort to distract people from the real problem. The amount of money being spent each year on political campaigns may be obscene, but it is paltry compared to the size of the federal government's power and budget. If you want to see real reform, real reductions in the amount of campaign donations, there is only one real solution. Reduce the size and scope of the federal government now. Stop the practice of pork barrel projects, corporate and social welfare, farm and business subsidies, protective tariffs, regulatory laws, and the funding of special interest group. Implement a flat tax and end all special deductions and loopholes. Start drastically cutting the number of government programs and give the American people some REAL tax relief for once.

If there is nothing left in the piggy bank, you won't have so many hands sticking in it. Don't blame the people who want to come to the party...blame the people who are giving the party in the first place. Hey Congress, its getting a little late...send everybody home, pay the caterer, clean up the mess you left, turn off the lights, and give us a peace and quiet for once, ok?

opinions of the dread pirate