Drowning democracy in an ocean of corporate money
by Jim Hightower
Can five votes make a difference in America's democratic elections? You betcha, as Sarah Palin might say. Especially when those five voters are Supreme Court justices hell bent on allowing the unlimited money power of corporate giants to drown out the people's democratic voice.
But wait, say apologists for the five Supreme voters who hung this plutocratic albatross around the neck of our democracy — it's not just corporations who were freed by the Court to spend billions to elect or defeat candidates. They smugly point out that labor unions, too, can now take their members' dues money and dump as much of it as they want into their campaigns. So, see, the ruling justices took care to be "fair and balanced."
Where've we heard that phrase before?
Balanced? Even if every union were to liquidate all of their assets and set aside every dime they have for elections, their total war chest would be $6 billion. Just one Wall Street firm, Goldman Sachs, doled out three times more than that in bonus payments to its bankers this year alone. Indeed, the combined union assets of $6 billion add up to a mere one-tenth of one percent of the assets held by only the four largest banks in our country.
Yet, the Court's corporate supremacists have now equated the freedom to spend money on elections with our people's freedom of speech. This means that those with the most money get the most speech. What's fair about that?
As an indicator of how imbalanced our brave new world of money-based elections will be, check this out: the 100 largest American corporations have annual incomes totaling $13 trillion. Henceforth, they can tap this ocean of political clout to elect policymakers who will do their bidding — not ours.
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