The tax the 1% don’t mind paying: the political tax

In the last presidential election cycle, over $5 billion was spent on political campaigns. This cycle with the newly allowed superPACs, it could be double that. The mass media will never point out how ludicrous this all is directly, because it’s keeping them alive. If there is one reason to move the elections to July 4 instead of the first Tuesday in November it’s because it’s becoming near impossible for anyone other than politicians to buy media space until after the election and it makes it harder for real businesses that depend on fourth quarter sales to survive to advertise.

The billions don’t come from a majority of voters, a majority of the money comes from the 1%. It’s a voluntary tax on the wealthy who think that buying, I mean donating to, politicians is a better investment than just paying slightly more in income tax and putting this whole system of auctions/elections out of business.

It’s not just the direct political donations either, it’s the entire “lobbying industry” that costs them as well. From the NYT we read how the super rich from other countries come in and buy up politicians as well- despite laws against foreigners donating directly to campaigns:

In the summer of 2009, a Malaysian billionaire took an unexpected interest in a small town in the Catskill Mountains in New York. With little notice, he bought a stake in a racetrack casino where the owners had struggled for more than a decade to develop a gambling complex

It was the first move in a brash attempt by KT Lim, chairman of one of the world’s largest gambling conglomerates, to muscle his way into the potentially lucrative American market. But Mr. Lim’s company, Genting Berhad, did not go it alone.

First, Genting hired a lobbyist named John L. Cordo, who was once on the staff of the Republican majority in the New York Senate. Then, with the company rapidly expanding, it amassed a who’s who of influential lobbyists.

Now, as Genting pursues multibillion-dollar projects in New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack and in Miami, its lobbying offers a primer on how a well-heeled newcomer can make up for its lack of experience and connections in the United States.

Because casino gambling is highly regulated, the industry has long drawn swarms of lobbyists promising to help navigate state capitols….

Christian Goode, a senior Genting executive on the New York and Miami projects, said in an interview that Genting had hired so many lobbyists in those locations because it wanted to participate in the political process “like any other company.”

Mr. Goode declined to discuss the lobbyists’ specific roles. “We are a large multinational company with lots of exposure,” he said. “Things come up from time to time. We just want to make sure we’re properly represented.”…

“Being a relatively unknown Asian company has not been an impediment for Genting in New York or Florida,” said Grant Govertsen, a principal of the Union Gaming Group, a research firm. “More than anything else these days, money talks.”

Gambling critics said Genting’s ability to spend so lavishly on lobbying suggested how much the company stood to gain.

“They intend to soak so much money out of our community that spending millions on local and state government isn’t much more than a rounding error,” said Dan Gelber, a former federal prosecutor in Miami and the chairman of the No Casinos group in South Florida.

via Genting Berhad Muscles Into American Gambling in New York City and Miami –

In another article in the NYT today, the one tool that can level the playing field in politics, the Internet, is being debated as well. The activists that call themselves “Anonymous” have launched “Operation Hiroshima” to attack those who want to pass SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) by posting private data and  smearing those who support it.

The technology industry, including giants like Google and Yahoo, and advocates for Internet freedom say the bills would censor the Internet, stifle free speech and give the government too much power to regulate and shut down web sites in the United States. Both sides have spent millions on lobbying in Washington. But at the grass-roots level, the issue has galvanized Internet activists, who lack lobbying power but have promoted the cause among the online community.

“You take our speech, you take our Internet, you take our Bill of Rights, you take our Constitution, we fight back,” said a monotone voice on a YouTube video posted by Anonymous before the Operation Hiroshima document drop.

Lawmakers and their aides have also been targets. A photograph of a 25-year-old aide for the House Judiciary Committee was superimposed into pornography by a group related to Anonymous, according to another aide who was briefed on security threats to lawmakers and their staffs. “Why can’t they just hire a lobbyist like everyone else?” this aide said.

via Fighting Antipiracy Measure, Activist Group Posts Personal Information of Media Executives –

And the articles on money buying politicians and influence just keeps coming- with Newt Gingrich even calling off the dogs of a “SuperPAC” that is smearing Mitt Romney:

Misleading and exaggerated claims in a film portraying Mitt Romney as a heartless job killer led Newt Gingrich to ask on Friday that the group behind it change or withdraw it, even though Mr. Gingrich is the intended beneficiary of the film….

But the group running the video, the pro-Gingrich “super PAC” Winning Our Future, made no move to alter the work….

By calling for the ads to come down or undergo changes, Mr. Gingrich was potentially getting to have his cake and eat it too, reaping the benefits of attacks that have been nationally branded as false while publicly distancing himself. Yet he also faced the risks of being associated with an attack by a group that has a former close aide, Rick Tyler, as a senior adviser….

But in questioning the advertisements’ accuracy on Friday, Mr. Gingrich was providing an early test of the benefits and risks to political candidates like him who, with little of their own financing, are being sustained by super PACS, which can use unlimited resources to help candidates and attack their opponents as long as the campaigns do not coordinate with them.

So far, these groups are running nearly as many advertisements per day as the candidates themselves, according to an analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG, which reports that they are spending far more than the actual campaigns because they do not get the same discounted rates from stations that candidates get. Winning Our Future is heavily in the mix, having received a $5 million commitment from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

via Gingrich Calls for Withdrawal of Ad Against Romney and Bain –

Do you get the feeling that it’s not our election anymore? Most of the people I know can’t afford to make $2,500 donations to multiple candidates or hire a lobbyist to try to get their tax burden reduced. Many of the people I know dread the return to $4 a gallon gas, put off going to the doctor because even if they do have insurance, the hassle of the multiple bills coming from three different places overwhelms them.

When we elect a person, we don’t even expect them to be able to work without the support of lobbyists. It seems the entire region believes that somehow we need to pay for the Dayton Development Coalition to tell our elected representatives how to save our collected communities. We’ve got the best politicians money can buy, but their price tag is beyond the average voter’s pay scale.

If we really want to cut taxes on the wealthy, the first one that needs to go is the political tax. Let’s take the money out of politics and just pay the bill to send all voters a printed guide with equal space for every candidate and issue. Give the voter time to study it, research further online and vote by mail (like Oregon does). Let’s implement “Instant runoff voting” so that we skip the long primary season and never ever have to vote against someone, or vote for the lesser of two evils again. Why should anyone ever feel their vote is wasted?

Watch this video from

Striking The Root of Wall Street Corruption from Sean McDaniel on Vimeo.

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