What's Money After All?
October 20, 2016
I’ve been thinking about money. Might be we need to change our attitude toward money.
$1.1 billion. Money raised so far by candidates in the 2016 Presidential election.
$529 million. Money raised so far by super PAC's supporting those candidates.
These figures are the latest FEC figures released October 11, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit tracking money in U.S. politics, and its effect on elections and public policy.
What's a super PAC anyway? It's a type of political action committee with no limits on the amount of donations, or their sources. It's not allowed to directly contribute to a political campaign or party. It sure can make a fuss indirectly, though.
Renata Adler, then NY Times film critic, once caused a fuss herself by reviewing a movie by not reviewing the movie. Instead, she wrote about the extravagant cost of making that movie (for its time), and what else the money could have paid for.
When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, it came with $900,000. It's still a big chunk of money. Yet the Nobel Prize used to sound like a fortune's worth of money. All that money probably couldn't buy a nice apartment in Los Angeles or New York today. Certainly not in San Francisco.
And you thought I was going to mention Citizens United.
Is that the root of all evil? Or only the essence of 2016 politics?
Citizens United is the short name for a case decided by the Supreme Court. It was only 2010, yet it feels so long ago. The name's being debated in this election since it seems like everyone's calling for the end of it. That is, while still benefiting from the decision.
The case dealt with regulating campaign spending by organizations. The Supreme Court decided that free speech stopped the government from restricting how much non-profits spend on politics. It's since been extended to corporations, labor unions and others. The amount corporations can now spend on elections? Unlimited.
$176 million. This was early campaign money from just 158 families using their wealth to profoundly reshape politics as they wished, via companies they own, which would never have been able to do that legally pre-Citizens United.
$1.1 billion. Money from only 10 donors going to super Pac's in the current election.
Can you hear Bernie Sanders' rally cry against this?
Even Hillary Clinton says she's against Citizens United. She announced she'll propose a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United in her first 30 days as president, saying the decision was "a disaster for our democracy".
The Intercept claims that won't happen; amendments need a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress, then to be ratified in 3/4 of all U.S. States. That's happened only once in the last 45 years, on regulating Congressional salaries.
Hillary also said she'll fight for small dollar matching. Not sure what that means? Small donations would be matched by public funding at a 6-1 ratio; any candidate who renounces taking donations over $150 would get a 9-1 ratio. That extra money would have been much more than what super PAC's drew on this year. It's an effective way of balancing the Citizens United money.
Let's follow some money.
$50 billion. Profits by the five biggest drug companies last year.
$327 million. Compensation for the top 10 drug company executives last year.
$3 billion. Amount spent by drug company lobbyists since 1998, with 1,400 lobbyists, according to Bernie Sanders.
$400 billion. U.S. prescription drug spending will increase 22% in the next five years, predicted to reach $400 billion in 2020 (Reuters).
Think of this when you vote for or against Prop 61 (stopping California from paying more for a drug than Veterans Affairs does).
"Money doesn’t talk, it swears". Do you think Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize for that line?
$601 billion. Stated U.S. military/defense budget, 2015. More than the next seven highest spending nations spend all together.
Our nation of 1% and 99%? I think of the value of money in Germany. If you haven't read "Before The Deluge", it's instructive. In 1920's Germany, people were trading shoes because money was so undependable. Is this our future?
Remember the song "Money" from Cabaret? Even the Donald's theme song from The Apprentice screamed out "Money Money Money!"
$46 million. How many Americans use food banks every year.
$1.6 million. How many American children slept in a homeless shelter/ emergency housing last year.
Free health care for everyone?
$143 billion. Cost of free health care for everyone in England (NHS 2015/16 budget, £116.4 billion).
Less than the cost of the 2016 election.
A lot less than our military budget (scan up to see those figures again).
Where am I going with this?
I hope you'll start thinking about money too.
©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.
You can write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org