Through Thom Tinted Lenses

January 31, 2010

I’LL HAVE a SUPREME COURT TO GO by Thom Reese

Filed under: culture,humor,Politically correct,politics,society,Uncategorized — Thom Reese @ 6:59 am

Uh-oh, Thom’s talking politics.

Yeah, I know, this isn’t a political blog. As a rule, I tend to focus on the grass-roots quirkiness of our day-to-day lives and steer miles clear of the he-said-she-said-let-me-promise-you-the-world-and-then-stab-you-in-the-back DC mentality. But politics, by nature, occasionally collides with the real world. So, here we go:

Just over a week ago, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to loosen campaign finance restrictions on corporations.

I’ve seen pizzas that have a stronger claim to the title “Supreme” than does that court.

“What’s the big deal?” you might say. “Who cares how much money a company can dump into a campaign?” Others might say, “Hey, why can’t I give candidate ‘X’ fifty trillion dollars?” Still others might gripe, “Why won’t candidate ‘X’ give me fifty trillion dollars?!” And yes, some might sit on the couch, chips in hand, and ask, “Is Seinfeld still making that sit-com?” (Those in this exclusive camp may sit this one out.)

So, let’s see if Thom can make sense of this issue.

Corporations are not registered voters. I’ve never seen General Motors or Chevron Oil exiting a voting booth wearing one of those little red, white, and blue stickers that read, “I voted.” I’ve never sat in the cafeteria with Wal-Mart Corporation critiquing Avatar over tuna fish sandwiches. Despite their tax status, corporations are not living, breathing, human beings. (Nor are zombies, but that’s a different issue altogether.)

The role of big business is to supply jobs, to fuel the economy, and hopefully to better the lives of employees, shareholders, and customers. But, though a corporation is, in a sense, a legal person – it pays taxes like a person – it is not a person. Nor, does it represent the views of every employee, shareholder, or customer. This has always been my contention with corporations and labor unions that endorse candidates. When an entity “endorses” someone, who is it really that is behind that candidate? The upper echelon of the organization, not the every day, living paycheck-to-paycheck type who is affected by these decisions. When a company boasting 100,000 employees stands behind a candidate, it doesn’t mean that those 100,000 are actually on board with the decision. Some employees might even be violently opposed to the chosen candidate.

Why then should this inhuman entity be granted such freedom with regard to campaign contributions? Individuals aren’t afforded this same luxury.

I don’t believe any entity – human or corporate – should have an unfair influence in the election process.

Yeah, call me naïve. Fine. I get it. The rich always have more influence, more swagger and sway. It’s the way of the world. Always has been, always will. But that’s mostly because the system supports that influence. Imagine a pie-in-the-sky-never-going-to-happen-but-sure-wish-it-would scenario where, electorally speaking at least, we all had an equal voice. Where Bill Gates didn’t have more influence than Jill the check-out clerk. Where Donald Trump gets put on hold by some English-as-a-third-language customer service rep living somewhere in the suburbs of  New Delhi.

Could it happen? Theoretically, yes. Will it happen? Probably not in this lifetime.

Here’s the issue as I see it. Money needs to be removed from the equation. “Oh, is that all?” you might exclaim. “And here I thought you were talking something difficult.” Yeah, I know, naïve, blah, blah, blah. Allow me to continue.

Campaigns cost money – lots and lots of money. Big dinero. Mondo moolah. But what if there was a way to minimize that need? Here are my thoughts:

1)      If less money is available to all candidates, then campaigns will adapt to this new paradigm.

2)      As individuals can vote and organizations cannot, eliminate political action committees (PACs), corporate donations, and the like, thus negating their ability to circumvent contribution caps placed on private citizens. This would mean that each voter had the equal right to donate within that cap and no one would be able to funnel large sums through an alternate venue. The goal here is to eliminate all corporate and special interest contributions, giving the sole funding ability back to the ordinary citizen. Holding everyone to a cap in or around $1,000, would then empower the everyman and dilute the abilities of the mondo-wealthy to wield God-like control.

3)      A sizeable chunk of campaign spending goes to advertising. Yep, the candidates need to get their message to the people. But, if we lessen the money needed, this diminishes the need for huge spending. How do we do that? The broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) broadcast on public airwaves. The same is true of radio stations. They are licensed by the government to do so. These networks and stations could have, as part of their licensing agreement, an obligation to air a certain amount of free advertising time for each candidate. Suddenly, the campaigns are much less costly.

Yes, I recognize that these are radical thoughts. And yes, a lot would need to be ironed out. But the spirit of what I’m trying to say is this. We live in the 21st century. (You probably already knew this.) We don’t live back in the days when only landowners were allowed to vote. In theory, we are all supposed to have an equal voice. But we don’t. The goal is to bring the reality of the system more in line with the intent of the system. Some will argue that eliminating organizational donations will impair freedom of speech. I argue the opposite. By lessening the role of money and corporation influence, we’re giving us all the same size megaphone.

Enough about politics. Now, anyone for a silly, poorly-made zombie flick?

 Thom Reese is a Las Vegas based writer whose weekly radio show, 21st Century Audio Theatre, previously aired on the 50,000 watt KDWN. Fourteen of Thom’s audio dramas will be released by Speaking Volumes Quality Audio Books throughout 2010. Thom studied comedy writing at The Second City and works in market research for CBS Broadcasting.

Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

“Through Thom Tinted Lenses” is posted weekly. If you enjoy these blogs, please subscribe using the button to the right and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome.

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9 Comments »

  1. Thom,
    I was wondering if anyone else was paying attention! Those Supreme Idiots have let loose something that may or may not be dangerous! I say may not becuse maybe now the public will know exactly what kind of money these guys put out to further their own interests…maybe they could put a tax on all those contributions and pay back all the bail out monies they got? But then nobody asks me for input…

    Comment by Greg Trujillo — January 31, 2010 @ 8:38 am | Reply

  2. You guys just don’t get it. It’s about freedom of speech!

    If you limit only select organizations isn’t that worse then what you claim will happen now?

    Until now these select groups could do what they wanted and that was ok? (I won’t go into who theses grups are, but I’m sure we all know who they are.)

    You really need to look at the ruling to see what it was really about.

    It’s true you can make the argument that to much money will go into the election process, but the truth is every time they came up with a new law to prevent this there were always numerious ways around it.

    Most importantly ANY GROUP, rich and poor alike, will now be able to talk about any candidate they wish and not be limited to when.

    Comment by RS — January 31, 2010 @ 10:58 am | Reply

  3. Thom:
    Good article and it’s all true, and very basic and would work if as you said, “a few things needed to be ironed out.” But, just a few it’s very simple. First let me say money is the root of all good and all evil, however show me one truly honest man who uses the money for good and I’ll show you another 11 who don’t, self dealing it’s called. Even in Haiti a lot of money has gone and will go to crooks, sad.
    Now the problem with campaign reform is the 1 to 11 ratio of true good to greedy. You see money buys influence if I pluck down 250,000 dollars do you think I can have a sit down with a mayor, gov, senator, congressman etc? You betch! Especially if I have friends with more of the same money. You, mister honest with your 1000 dollars, nada, not a chance. So money talks and the big money buys the canditates, gets them elected and supports them with advertising and help. This is all wrong and should be cut out, your idea is brilliant in that it would work, just tweek it a bit, but right now the greedy don’t want to dump the system, because it takes money out of their pockets. Trust me the easiest way to get someone’s attention is take their money, even 5 bucks! You are right if we got rid of the special interests (love the name, meaning they are special)and had only john q public’s money things would change because the politician would vote what the people want not what the big money paying for his next campaign want. Good job Tom,
    Barbi

    Comment by Barbi Rose — January 31, 2010 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

  4. Thom, good post, I know it’s silly to even think like this because of “fat chance” and all that. But it would be nice if everything was on a level playing field. The problem above this though, goes back to voting statistics themselves. The rich are the ones who care enough to shout the loudest about it. A very large majority of poor people don’t even bother to go out and vote, much less stand up for what could be their rights.

    The problem goes back, as most problems in politics do, to the people. If the people rallied, government wouldn’t be strong enough to stand in their way. Maybe we’ll see that one day. The best we can do is show the people around us, differing opinions or not, that they should care!

    Comment by Robert W. Leonard — January 31, 2010 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  5. Thom, you should run for Nevada Governor.

    I disagree with Robert that the rich “care enough to should the loudest,” while the poor don’t even care enough to vote. Money is power. The statistics have much less to do with caring than they do with the poor feeling powerless under the weight of Corporate’s big-money pull. Yes, the poor need a louder voice. Unfortunately, they have been pushed into a place of complacency that has left them feeling silent, no matter how loudly they scream for change–right where Big Money wants them.

    Comment by L. Lane — January 31, 2010 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  6. RS…really? Nobody but you gets it?
    Sorry, but no. Money is NOT speech.
    Free speech is NOT the same as paid-for speech.
    What you are “getting” is something other than what this is about.
    Sorry, but either you are being paid to hold a cockamamy view,
    or you are buying into someone else’s view who is being paid to convince you.
    Unless you are wealthy enough to buy a senator or two of you own, you are simply not thinking in your own best interests as a citizen of a former (and still potential) democracy.

    Good work, Thom.

    Ien

    Comment by ilexglabra — January 31, 2010 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  7. Wow! You have made it to the big world now Thom. You are getting comments that do not agree with you. And snide comments to boot. Way to go. BTW – loved the piece. I’ll contribute to your campaign and maybe even vote for you. If you allow us to have Supreme Pizza at least once a week.

    Comment by Wanda M. Argersinger — February 2, 2010 @ 5:19 am | Reply

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    Pingback by Tweets that mention I’LL HAVE a SUPREME COURT TO GO by Thom Reese « Through Thom Tinted Lenses -- Topsy.com — February 2, 2010 @ 2:22 pm | Reply


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