ROSE NOLEN: Surrendering to the power of money

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

I truly believe the last thing America needed was for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. While the court said it was constitutional, I wish the country would have chosen not to participate in the process. The last thing we need is to select our political leaders by how much money is spent on their political campaigns.

Unfortunately, we are not the kind of people who can say no to the proposition of spending our money to buy what we want. If we can spend money to buy power, then let it be. The fact that  we have worked hard to keep big money out of politics for so long no longer matters. Now we have been told that it is OK to buy our government, so we’ll do it.

Although I believe this is a bad thing for our country, I understand that because it has been declared constitutional, some people feel we should act on it. I hope the time will come soon when those in power will decide to limit this right. One of the things we learn growing from little children to grown-ups is that everything that is good to us is not good for us.

Some of those who have a lot of money are foaming at the mouth, waiting for the opportunity to see how much power they can buy. Undoubtedly, in the coming years, we’ll look back to remember when anybody with the desire could run for public office. We’ll realize with sadness that now, only the rich can afford to do it. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t really believe we are the kind of people who want that kind of government.

For the time being, no one is speaking out against the way money is being spent in this presidential campaign. But with our unemployment rate as it is, people have big worries on their minds. I believe that once things settle down and people examine the package they have, they will willingly turn away from it.

As it is, we probably won't have to look forward to election day much longer. Making a choice between rich people we don’t even know probably won’t be worth making the trip to the polls.

The Supreme Court rulings are the law of the land. And as much as I disagree with this ruling, I suppose I’ll have to learn to live with it. And honestly, I suppose we have been traveling in this direction for a long time. Money was beginning to govern our lives, so I guess we have no choice but to surrender to its power.

And those who welcome this new ruling are, I’m certain, loaded with money. It won’t be long before they will be in control of the government, and the rest of us will be at their mercy. Maybe the country’s founders meant it to be that way. And perhaps it is up to us to manage how we keep this a government of the people, by the people and for the people while the country drowns in money. In any case, it will be interesting for us to try.

Something tells me dealing with climate change will be a lot easier. Personally, I dread the thought.

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Ellis Smith July 10, 2012 | 7:30 a.m.

This becomes an issue when "the other side" is found to be spending more money than "our side" has spent. How dare they do that!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 10, 2012 | 7:50 a.m.

"Making a choice between rich people we don’t even know probably won’t be worth making the trip to the polls."

It's important to vote even if it's for the lesser of two evils.

Few politicians at anything but the local level are poor, or even middle class. The fact they are rich should not necessarily be a strike against them. There's a lot of dishonest poor people out there too.

Like it or not, expensive political campaigns are good for sections of the economy. There are also rules about candidates using campaign funds for personal use (the Edwards case being a recent example). Rose is making it sound like these donations are personally enriching the candidates.

Candidates are not "bought". They attract support from donors based on their positions on issues and their voting records. Directly giving money to a politician to influence their vote is bribery, and it's a felony.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 10, 2012 | 9:11 a.m.

Well, Rose: There is one silver lining.

After all, where (and to whom) does all that campaign money go?

If you answer that, you get a gold star.

Hint: It's called commerce.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub July 10, 2012 | 9:37 a.m.

Michael, The campaign money goes to the corporate owned media, who feeds us pablum on a daily basis while hiding the real news...often because it would not look good to one of their clients. Case in point: huge protests in Mexico over their elections, thousands of heat records broken but no reporting on how global warming is following the exact path the vast majority of scientists have predicted, the arctic is melting even faster than predicted yet who's talking about that.Our antiquated power grid is hanging on by a thread, and more weather like this will surely break it... silence. Our soldiers are still being killed in Afghanistan, yet that gets hardly a mention. Does that money trickle down to rest of society?

It is illegal to take bribes as an elected official, but not to vote in any way they want. Believing, that officials are not being bought because it is illegal is laughable. Not only are many of them bought, they present laws that are written by those who paid for them. For those of you with their heads in the sand or backs to the issues don't be surprised when you take a peek that George Orwell got it right, just the wrong date.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote July 10, 2012 | 9:42 a.m.

@Mark Foecking,

That's a nice fiction.

Billy Tauzin, after writing (or allowing industry to write) the Bush era Medicare expansion bill, received a sweetheart deal from big pharma. One of the key provisions was that Medicare could not use its rather large purchasing power to negotiate drug prices. I'm not really sure what political philosophy that aligns with (crony capitalists?), but it certainly resulted in a substantial windfall for pharmaceuticals. The only logical conclusion is that the provision was a quid pro quo, as it unnecessarily increases the cost of medicare.
You could probably find this sort of corruption in much of the legislation that gets passed, though perhaps not on this scale. I believe it was reported that Tauzin secured his job ($2 million + per annum) in industry while he was actually drafting the bill. His 2010 compensation was $11.5 million. Good work if you can get it. Perhaps in Mr Miller's next column he could use Mr Tauzin as an example of how hard work "pays off".

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 10, 2012 | 12:50 p.m.

"Making a choice between rich people we don't even know..."

Well, consider the following:

Theodore Roosevelt (Republican)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Democrat)
John F. Kennedy (Democrat)
Ronald Reagan (Republican)

I doubt many Americans personally "knew" any of these four Presidents.

Three came from "moneyed" families; Regan did not, but he can be considered to have been "rich" at the time he became president. Reagan became rich largely as spokesman for General Electric (TV's "GE Theater").

I know few rich people, whether they are running for office
or not.

Note that I have, tactfully, listed two Democrats and two Republicans. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 10, 2012 | 2:45 p.m.

Gary asks: "Does that money trickle down to rest of society?"

Well, I'm supposing all that "corporate owned media" you're talking about has folks just like you and me working for it. I'm guessing...just a guess...that they get paid a salary no matter how undeserved. I expect that some of that money even filters down into local places like Columbia, MO, but I could be wrong on that.

I also guess that much of that money goes to hotels, restaurants, airlines, etc., and I'm guessing they have employees that make a salary, too.

So, I'm concluding that...indeed...the money filters down; however, it may not filter down to YOU because you have not done the things necessary to insert yourself in those particular money streams.

One of the things that many folks do not understand is that EVERY single dollar that changes hands eventually ends up paying somebody's salary. EVERY ONE!

Nobody stuffs mattresses anymore.

The argument should not be about "who gets the money".

It's about how folks, mainly liberals, are so easily swayed by the number of times they hear the same message....which, of course, costs money to distribute.

PS: I might add that most (if not all) of the commerce transactions that take place are taxable events. I understand that you may not like this, preferring instead that I just write you a check so you can spend the money the right way.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub July 10, 2012 | 5:58 p.m.

Now I am to assume that these landfall profits are shared among the workers that are already working at the media, or the restaurants. Also that all rest of these profits are spent on new jobs. Huge amounts of currency has been moving it's way to the top 2% in a redistribution of wealth upwards unlike we have seen for a long time. However the point of the article was about buying politicians, and my point was that buying politicians or businessmen is happening and the laws to prevent are so weak and under-enforced as to not be relevant.

Is your world so black and white that you think that if I disagree with your view of the way things should be then I am the neatly packaged stereotype of what you obviously perceive to be evil incarnate. My hand has never been out except to shake another's hand.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 11, 2012 | 8:45 a.m.

Gary: You directly asked me if political money filtered down. I think I showed you it, indeed, the form of salaries for services and goods. In fact, every single dollar from this campaign eventually pays someone's salary.

So, now you change the argument to "profits"...whether any of the profits gained from engaging in such commerce....filters down to you.

Why do you think you deserve anything more than the salary you agreed to take for doing the job you agreed to take? Did YOU take any risks with your money in getting that job? Did YOU take out a large inventory loan? Did YOU risk everything you have?

You are the one who made others rich. You are the one who demanded and bought their products for the price they were offered. You bought crap while others invested in assets.

And then all you can do is gripe, endlessly forgetting your own culpability.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 11, 2012 | 9:11 a.m.

Gary: article is NOT about buying politicians. Rose said no such thing.

It's about advertising, the same activity that induces you and me and everyone else to do or buy something.

It's evident to me you still do not get this thing called cash flow and how every single dollar in commerce goes to pay someone's salary:

Let's pretend I have $100K in this awful thing you call "profits". Given my own little economic circle, I can see nothing but high risk for me to spend it on something like create a new job or buy a widget and make something you will buy. I feel the need to do something safer with it. So, after much research, I find that the city of Camdenton, MO wishes to build a new school, but they do not have sufficient cash to do it. So, they (the community, folks like you and me) decide to float a bond. I like the risk and the yield, so I participate and buy one. In return for loaning the money to the city, I get 4.0% interest from those citizens.

They take the money and give it to a bunch of workers....electricians, bricklayers, concrete pourers, carpenters, computer makers, asphalt pourers, light bulb screwers, plumbers and...voila...Camdenton gets a new school.

And all of those folks are getting that money as salary and the owners of their companies make a profit. Guess what...all those folks turn around and buy food, homes, cars, boats, clothing, investments, and no-telling-what-else.

Camdenton gets a school, the city folks tax themselves, I get my money back with interest, and you gripe. Sheesh.

Of course, I guess the other way to do this is for the gov't to confiscate my $100K and GIVE it to Camdenton for their school.

My response would be to not engage in any activity that would generate that $100K in the first place. I'd do lots less, whatever it takes to just get by. Gov't can make me "work", at the point of a gun if necessary, but it can't get my ideas or abilities or efficiency. Those are mine and you can't have them unless I give them willingly.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub July 11, 2012 | 9:28 a.m.

"Some of those who have a lot of money are foaming at the mouth, waiting for the opportunity to see how much power they can buy." Do you ever read before attacking, Michael?
FYI: I have been self employed for the vast majority of my long life, I pay 5 figure property tax, and I believe that excess profits should be shared. Your simplistic lecture on commerce was unwarranted and inaccurate.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 11, 2012 | 10:48 a.m.

Gary: Read the context of your quote. She's not talking about someone buying a politician; she's discussing rich folks advertising themselves into a job.

So...yeah...I did read it, but apparently you didn't get past the first line of the paragraph.

I happened to believe profits should be shared, too. And, I did so by distributing 10% of my company's after-tax profits to my employees, not including executives.

But it never occurred to me to try and force you to do the same. Or ask my gov't to force you to do it. Apparently such things occur to you all the time.

My discourse on commerce was unwarranted and inaccurate? I think you continue to show ample misunderstanding of "where money goes and what it does when it gets there" it was certainly warranted. You'll have to explain any inaccuracies because I sure don't see them.

But I can certainly see where my discourse might have been unwanted....after all, if you didn't understand it, someone else might and we can't have that.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 11, 2012 | 11:29 a.m.

Gary, what do you consider excess profits? That sounds like a loaded phrase to me, but I've never run a business. I'm just thinking the business owner has a better idea on how "excess profits" should be spent, saved, or reinvested in the business than the government.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 11, 2012 | 11:48 a.m.

John: He ain't gonna answer that.

Gary: Ok, you're self employed and, since you believe in sharing profits with employees, I'm going to conclude you have BOTH profits and employees.

So, based upon your statements and the implied conclusions embodied is those statements, I have two questions:

(1) Why are you underpaying your employees, making them wait until you calculate profits before distributing those profits?

(2) Are you getting wealthier faster than your employees?

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub July 11, 2012 | 5:18 p.m.

John, I must be from the old school, when a business owner figured all his/her costs, including a reasonable salary for themselves, then added in the profit they wanted to make and if that was obtained they were happy. They had a good salary, and profits allowed their business to grow and to hire and keep good employees. Whenever profits were more than what they set out to make then they were excess profits. With these the owner(s) could do what they wanted, I have never said anything about government forcing anybody to spend their profits in any way. I think you feel that I was talking about excessive profits, which is a different story.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 11, 2012 | 6:11 p.m.

Gary Straub wrote:

" I think you feel that I was talking about excessive profits, which is a different story."

What's an "excessive" profit? Do you define that as a percentage of revenue, or as some absolute amount? Many seem to define it as the latter, when in most cases, a large dollar amount of profit is a consequence of having a very large revenue stream (e.g. oil companies). Most large corporations make between 6-12% profit. Is that "excessive"? I don't think so.


(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller July 13, 2012 | 8:38 p.m.

Mr Foote,

What is stopping you from composing your own column and exposing former Congressman Billy Tauzin and anyone else who doesn't measure up to your standard? Personally, I have little interest in the work ethic of persons you cherry pick for me to use as examples. But, if I ever need your help, you will be the first to know.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 14, 2012 | 6:12 a.m.

@Mark Foecking:

I just now noticed your post about excessive profits.

By definition and custom, excessive profits MUST be profits SOME ONE ELSE has earned; they cannot possibly be profits you or I might earn, because then they wouldn't be excessive. :)

Don't know about you, Mark, but this isn't a subject I worry "excessively" about. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 14, 2012 | 8:08 a.m.

Great, Ellis.

Just great.

Now I'm worrying about the definition of "excessive worry."

But until it's defined, I don't know if the worry is excessive.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 14, 2012 | 4:46 p.m.

@ Michael Williams:

I wouldn't think you'd have either the time or inclination to worry excessively, given all those chigger bites. Every square nanometer of your epidermis must surely be affected!

Why that's almost as bad as Avagadro's number!

Back to the conversion factor of 1.524 x 10 to the 13th power. The equation in which it's used calculates the horsepower required to operate a given mixer. In the metric system, that would be expressed as kilowatts; so would the rating of a motor vehicle's engine.

One term in the equation gets cubed* and aother is raised to the 5th power**, so after chasing a lot of very large numbers around, a final division step typically yields an answer between 1 and 10 horsepower.

*-rotational speed (rpm)
**-impeller diameter (inches)

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 14, 2012 | 5:18 p.m.

Price gouging interest
Rate cartel fixing markets.
Read up on LIBOR.

The affluent sell
The "trickle down" scam since they
Know wealth is "sucked up,"

And the hoarders sock
Lucre in the Caymans while
Cantor shorts T-bonds.

Austerity is
For laborers. V.I.Ps
Get their own entrance

To the fundraiser
To rub shoulders with Big Dick
Cheney's same old team.

It takes courage to
Advocate overturning
The moneychanger's

Tables. Lickspittle
Cowards excuse the rigged game -
Too obsequious.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 15, 2012 | 7:44 a.m.

I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still
Da doo ron-ron-ron, Da doo ron-ron
Somebody told me that his name is Bill
Da doo ron-ron-ron, Da doo ron-ron

Yeah, my heart stood still
Yes, his name is Bill
And when he walked me home
Da doo ron-ron-ron, Da doo ron-ron

The song (1963) goes on to state that the singer is going to "make him mine." (Singer gets an "A" for initiative.)

In 1963 this song was clearly meant to be sung by a female; today, would it really make any difference? In one of our neighboring states ADAM now has a legal choice or whether he marries EVE or STEVE. This is called progress. :)

[In arguments about calling same-sex unions "marriage" it's been noted that the institution of marriage significantly predates the Constitution, but then so does the institution of SLAVERY.]

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 15, 2012 | 10:39 a.m.

Sheesh, usin' 25 cent words like epidermis, Avogadro, conversion factor, kilowatts, cubed*, 5th power**, rotational, and especially impeller just has my head a'swimmin'. You tryin' to upgrade the vocabulary hereabouts or sumpin'?

I refuse to go along.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 15, 2012 | 11:12 a.m.

@ Michael Williams:

I didn't intend to distress you. BTW, some Chemical Engineering students at a small Ozarks campus have been known to refer to Avogadro's number as "Avocado's number."

There have also been lewd and potentially painful suggestions as to where one might place an impeller. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 15, 2012 | 11:23 a.m.

Ellis: "...some Chemical Engineering students at a small Ozarks campus have been known to refer to Avogadro's number as "Avocado's number."

Why am I not surprised.


(PS: You being an engineer-and-all, which train outfit did you work for...CSX or Union Pacific?)

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 15, 2012 | 4:25 p.m.

Well, both CSX and Union Pacific are major coal haulers, but I worked for BNSF. As you know, that's where the Kansas City football Chiefs got their name (from the name for SF's passenger trains). There used to be a guy dressed in Native American regalia who rode a horse around the field after each Chief's touchdown, but that lost out to political correctness. :(

On my father's side of our family I come from railroaders: Pennsylvania Railroad. My dad was born in Bryn Mar, PA, and his first cousin, Jim, in Newark, DE, both on Pennsy's main lines. I didn't go into railroading, and Jim's only child is now a retired school teacher who lives with her husband on a house boat in DE.

I grew up less than 100 feet from a railroad track. Does that count? You get used to the noise. I was on the right side of the tracks, socially speaking. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 15, 2012 | 5:48 p.m.


True story. Lived in Pullman, Washington for 2 years back in late 70s.....right next to the train station. At night, a "perpetual" light from the train station shined through the bedroom, through the hallway, and into the bathroom. I get up at 3 am to do what any red-blooded american male has to do at 3 am, stagger bleary-eyed into the john, and there...right in front of me...stands a guy. Right in front of the toilet.

My adrenal glands immediately pumped out 2 gallons of epinephrine.

Now wide-awake (an understatement), I says, "Who's there?" No answer. I shout, "Who are you?" No answer.

This moron is my height and weight, so I put everything I had into a hard roundhouse right into the bastard's jaw...a real Joe Frazier haymaker...right through the bathroom plasterboard.

It was my shadow.

Do you know how long it takes for 2 gallons of epinephrine to get out of your system?

I do.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 16, 2012 | 5:23 a.m.

What on earth were you doing living in Pullman, Washington?
I've driven through there once, on my way from the airport in Spokane to Moscow, Idaho. Pullman looked like a depressing place (Moscow, while small, has that rustic Western outdoors look).

If I remember correctly, Elson Floyd, formerly President of UM System, is still president of Washington State University (Pullman, Washington).

(Report Comment)
frank christian July 16, 2012 | 7:26 a.m.

During a visit during early 50's, in the wooded hills of upper Idaho, I was shown a small village that was built on both sides of the railroad that wound it's way between the hills.

It's main street, the only one, was the railroad track. I don't remember the name. Anyone heard of it? It was near Kellogg.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 16, 2012 | 7:41 a.m.

Ellis: What on earth were you doing living in Pullman, Washington?


Pullman was.....starkly beautiful. It was at the southern end of a 100 mile by 100 mile area of wheat, peas, and lentils. It was especially beautiful in the late fall and early spring. The Snake River was directly to the south and the Channeled Scablands was to the NW (ps; google channeled scablands). The very best duck hunting I've encountered was over by Moses Lake, and we were less than an hour from good skiing. Another postdoc down the hall married into a family that owned land in Idaho; twice a year they'd go camping on the place and the family would usually split up ca. $2000 in gold they panned over the 1978 prices. I also remember the dairy down the road that used the LTLT method of pasteurizing milk rather than the more usual HTST method.....what a difference in taste! First daughter was born there and it was the first time we were truly, utterly, and completely on our own....on a salary of $10K/year. After a grad school salary that maxed out at $4.8K/year, we wuz RICH!

We loved it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 16, 2012 | 9:00 a.m.

@ Michael:

I didn't have a good impression of Pullman, driving through.

One of the most stark contrasts I've seen is driving from Spokane to Pullman (US 195), then east to Moscow, Idaho, then returning to Spokane on the Ihaho side (US 95). As you said, on the US 195 side you have few trees, many large fields and a rolling countryside; going back on US 95 you have mostly forest. At Coeur d' Alene, Idaho you turn west on US 2 and come out of the forest before reaching Spokane.

I used to call on a small factory at Troy, Idaho that had fairly sophicated processing equipment. The product went to the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Bonnie Dunbar, NASA Astronaut, grew up somewhere in eastern Washington but went to University of Washington (BS in Ceramic Engineering). Years ago Bonnie made an appearance in Jefferson City at a society dinner.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 16, 2012 | 6:05 p.m.

Ellis: "I didn't have a good impression of Pullman, driving through."

That's probably because you got lost. I stayed lost for my first 3 weeks in that city. I think the person who laid out the roads was drunk until the job was finished.

We ended up liking the town and people quite a bit. It reminded me of Columbia back in the early '70s before it got big.

(Report Comment)

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