08 November, 2010


Truth is irrelevant. What matters is how you portray the opposition.

Let’s face it. Our legislators have very few original thoughts. At one time they were great academicians, now they have speech writers. Their greatest challenge has become how to issue a pithy spin that can enhance their party line while casting a pall on the competition.

Its high time Americans come to realize that the Democratic and Republican National Committees are in truth huge, privately held multi-million dollar companies masquerading as not-for-profit corporations. Candidates can only get funding if they adhere to the party line. Only marginal experience is required. Sure an individual prospect must possess ‘likability’ to be selected as a candidate. Let’s call this the ‘Palin’ effect. Being the Governor of Alaska is about equal to being the Mayor of Washington, DC (they have roughly the same population).

I promise you that the vast majority of our legislators have little interest in helping average Americans. They don’t have to be helpful. That might have been their initial goal. However, after a few years in government an otherwise earnest representative is so busy concealing their own personal array of corruptions that they have little time to look after us (we), the puny people.

Additionally, the only way to remain in office is to please the party elders. No party affiliation, no campaign finance. It’s the law of supply and demand - meet the demands of anyone who provides you with the largest supply of money. It’s all about funding. Further the party platform with sound bytes and photo ops. Results are desired but not required. Campaign funding rules the day. The recent mid-term election was perhaps the most expensive in political history. As you are fully aware it was one negative spin after another.

The 21st century has (so far) provided us with vivid, intimate awareness not only about our celebrities, but about our politicians as well. Tabloid magazines. Twitter. Even the Pope and the Queen have Facebook pages. We already know that some of the political electorate is guilty of infidelity, bribery, collusion, conspiracy, blackmail and malfeasance.

It is true that we as the public select our celebrities for adulation and elect our politicians in like fashion. We expect that our experience with previous behavior will deliver superior results. That is sadly more certain among low end workers and diminishes accordingly among our executives.

To paraphrase Mark Twain; 'Two things you never want to see being made: laws and sausages.'

In part and in addition to international relations, we elect the congress to look after our regional and local needs. In a perfect world it is the job of our representatives to secure funding for our schools and improve our infrastructure; to keep our taxes low while promoting industry, creating jobs and soliciting investments that will augment our prosperity. And yet so much prospective funding legislation is ‘pork’. And we call it ‘pork’ because much of it lacks wide ranging, even pertinent distinctiveness; construction projects, or grants that favor campaign contributors. You can find many examples on your own.

The truth is that our legislators are nearly incapable of doing the work for which they were chosen. Ham-fisted. State and local as well as Federal houses of government are peopled with master manipulators. Longevity on the job often indicates a level of expertise in networking through the complicated protocols of ‘the deal’. However, it is more likely that an experienced legislator is skilled at managing hirsute affiliations rather than duties to the electorate. A smooth politician.

To paraphrase Honore de Balzac: “Law is a silvery web that lets the big flies pass and catches the small ones”.

Think about it. America desired independence from Britain because there was taxation without representation. The colonies paid import, export and sin taxes to the crown without even so much as a voice in the royal ear to convey issues in a true way. Out with the old.

We then proceeded to elect our royalty and have been doing so ever since. In with the new. Our representatives are provided with high salaries (they can vote themselves a pay raise), they receive perks like free dining privileges and excellent health care insurance. They are permitted to postpone the obligations of their current office so they might go onto the campaign trail, effectively pursuing a different job while being fully paid for the one they seek to abandon. Try that at work! Perhaps they are named Adams, or Bush or Kennedy or McCain or Clinton.

I suppose there is a case for brand loyalty. I am, after all, inclined to replace a failed appliance that has served well with a model of the same brand. Moreover, I often hope that previous employers will remember to call upon me again when the chance arises.

Now what about lobbyists? Executive legislators can influence the policies of generations to come and as such are continually tempted (if not harangued) with and by special interest groups who seek to interpret the public good according to their own private agenda (s). A flood of data coupled with persuasive incentives hoping to affect a vote or at the very least elicit support. It’s safe to say that our electorate encounters the faces of familiar lobbyists far more frequently than they might encounter ‘Joe or Sally housecoat’.

A revolving door exists between the Department of Defense and Defense contractors; it is the same between pharmaceutical manufacturers and the FDA. The same exists between the FDIC and brokerage firms like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. In view of recent events in the Gulf of Mexico I think it’s safe to include the Mineral Management Service and its cozy relationship with the petroleum industry as well.

So who is representing you? There is deserving concern that Americas greatest invention, the middle class, is dissolving. A few weeks past President Obama addressed a fund raising dinner at $30K for each plate. That is more than many people earn annually. Even as government contemplates curtailing unemployment benefits, they also deliberate on extending the so-called Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. So how is representation going for you?