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Health Care & Environment

02.21 Maternal Health Care Is Disappearing in Rural America

02.21 Climate change 'will push European cities towards breaking point'

02.20 'Much work needed' to make digital economy environmentally sustainable

02.20 'Sloppy and careless': courts call out Trump blitzkrieg on environmental rules [what happens when good judges are replaced with Trump-judges?]

02.19 Retreat From a Rising Sea: A Book Review [Do Republicans deny it so the rich will have time to sell before property values crater?]

02.17 China Will Plant 32,400 Square Miles of Trees to Combat Air Pollution [wonderful!]

02.17 How Seattle Is Winning the War on the Car Commute

02.17 160 Groups Oppose Trump Medicaid Policy That 'Cruelly Punishes and Stigmatizes Low-Income People' [Trump is immoral and/or ignorant, take your pick]

02.17 Plyscraper city: Tokyo to build 350m tower made of wood

02.16 Balearics launch pioneering plan to phase out emissions

02.16 South Korea's Ahn Hee-Jung on coal trade: after Paris 'everything should change'

News Media Matters

02.17 The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences

Daily: FAIR Blog
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.21 Continuing Sabotage of Americans' Healthcare, Trump Proposes Allowing Insurers to Offer 'Junk Plans' [the Carnival Barker barks/tweets again]

02.21 'Cowardly': With Students Present, Florida GOP Votes Down Motion to Consider Assault Rifle Ban

02.21 Newborn survival rates in US only slightly better than in Sri Lanka [caused by highest-profit, non-universal healthcare and the political war against Planned Parenthood pre-natal care by willfully ignorant Republicans]

02.21 Democrats beware: the Russia investigation isn't the path to power

02.21 Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality [the cure is not more of the same]

02.20 Conservatives urge Trump to grant pardons in Russia probe [of course they do; who calls them "conservatives" anymore?]

02.20 Who Counts? [how will Trump/Republicans hide criminally skewed counting to avoid scandal?]

02.20 At White House Lie-In, Teens Call on Congress to 'Protect Kids, Not Guns' [background checks will never be enough; military-type weapons–ones designed to kill lots of people fast–must be made illegal for civilians to possess and confiscated]

02.19 Lending discrimination, redlining still plague St. Louis, new data show

02.19 Students who escaped Florida shooting voice anger at Trump as protests spread [trying to change ho-hum to aha!]

Justice Matters

02.20 'Sloppy and careless': courts call out Trump blitzkrieg on environmental rules [what happens when Trump-judges replace good judges?]

High Crimes?

02.20 'It's not a war. It's a massacre': scores killed in Syrian enclave [start the war crimes trial to send this message: ASSAD WILL NOT BENEFIT FROM THIS!]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

02.20 Seven in 10 UK workers are 'chronically broke', study finds [for decades focus of government and business has been to serve the rich]

02.17 The IMF Warns Trump’s Tax Cuts Could Trigger a Global ‘Race to the Bottom’

International & Futurism

02.21 'I love Rome, but Rome doesn't love us': the city's new migrant crisis

02.21 Netanyahu aide agrees to implicate PM over corruption claims – reports

02.21 Netherlands becoming a narco-state, warn Dutch police [instead of a totally criminal solution, why not develop safer, non-addictive prescription drugs to put dangerous narcotics gangs out of business]

02.20 Rising poverty gnaws at Italian social fabric as election nears

02.20 Pristina in the spotlight: Rita Ora aside, can Kosovo's capital make it big?

02.19 A single mom, undocumented, living in the shadows of Ice [it's not right that immigrants—just wanting a better life—are mistreated as presumed criminals. Might countries use a new, interim "international legal-immigrant" status conveyed by the UN using InterPol for vetting?]

02.19 Jacinda Ardern becomes first New Zealand PM to march in gay pride parade [wonderful!]

02.18 Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia's plot to hijack US democracy

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  Print view: Dollar Dreams from 'Dollar Bill' Bradley
BOOK REVIEW:

Dollar Dreams from 'Dollar Bill' Bradley

by Gerald E. Scorse
Bradley’s book, We Can All Do Better, has an early chapter, "Uprooting the Root of All Evil," that examines the corruption of politics by checkbooks.

Dollars deliver messages in a new book by “Dollar Bill” Bradley, and the former Rhodes scholar, NBA star, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate has no doubt where the dollars should and shouldn’t be going. They should be pouring FDR-style into job creation, and they shouldn’t be donated to politicians, especially dollars from corporations.

Bradley’s book, We Can All Do Better, has an early chapter, "Uprooting the Root of All Evil," that examines the corruption of politics by checkbooks. “At the core of the Washington culture is money,” the chapter begins. “It burdens politicians with the need to raise it. And when they’ve raised it, it compromises them.”

Bradley writes that he spent $1.68 million running for the Senate in 1978. In 2000, running for the same New Jersey seat, Jon Corzine spent more than $62 million, “most of it his own." While Bradley is scalding about Citizens United, he says the Supreme Court’s wrong-headedness on political donations actually took root in Buckley vs. Valeo in 1976. In that decision “the Court said that the money spent by an individual on his or her own political campaign was political speech, protected under the free-speech clause of the Constitution, and therefore could not be limited. This opened the floodgates for rich people [e.g., Corzine] to finance their own efforts.”

It defies common sense, Bradley says. “In Buckley, the Supreme Court said in effect that it was just fine that the candidate with little money only has a megaphone while the candidate with a lot of money has a microphone.” This laid the groundwork for the corporations-are-people Citizens United ruling, under which “the Supreme Court has approved unlimited contributions by super PACs than can steal elections through widely broadcast lies.”

The black-robed Supreme Court may be clueless and tone-deaf, but ordinary white collar and blue collar workers can easily connect the dots. As Bradley puts it, “There is something fundamentally wrong when a lobbyist—whether representing business or labor—comes to a legislator’s office to plead his client’s case and then four hours later appears at the legislator’s fund-raiser in a nearby restaurant with a $10,000 check. The link between money and policy must be broken.”

What needs to be established (re-established, really) is the link between government spending and job creation: “When it comes to proposed federal action to create jobs, every dollar spent in the current environment of declining confidence in government should go to the establishment of a specific job; people have to see the connection between their tax dollars and job creation....When a government’s credibility has been damaged for whatever reason, it cannot shrink from boldness. It must act in a big way to generate more jobs with a short-term, mid-term and long-term strategy.”

Bradley lays out ideas for all three periods, and he draws on his own childhood to invoke the direct federal job creation that took place under FDR:

“What most people remember about President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression are the Works Progress Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which created jobs for Americans in building schools, parks, roads, dams, bridges. In the small town in Missouri where I grew up, the high school was a PWA project built in 1939. Today, over seventy years later, it stands as a testimony to far-sighted government leadership. We need new public investment in public goods that will last another seventy years....The New America Foundation study estimates that a $1.2 trillion investment in much-needed infrastructure over a five-year period would generate 5.52 million jobs in each year of the program. There is no other stimulus that could create so many jobs and leave behind a seventy-year foundation for economic growth. Given low interest rates, there will never be a cheaper time to float thirty-year reconstruction bonds. Government-subsidized personal consumption (i.e., tax cuts) in the current climate of debt de-leveraging cannot work; public investment that directly creates jobs can.”

Twenty-two state attorneys general, joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-OH), have lined up behind a Montana challenge to Citizens United.

Is there any hope for more stimulus spending? For campaign finance reform? It’s hard to imagine the former; as for the latter, it’s easy to imagine but another matter to pull off. Twenty-two state attorneys general, joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-OH), have lined up behind a Montana challenge to Citizens United. Bradley’s best-case solution would supersede Buckley and Citizens United with a constitutional amendment “stating that federal, state and local governments can limit the total amount of spending in a political campaign....If that were combined with public financing for whatever amount was permitted by the campaign finance laws, we would have returned government to the people.”

Right now, though, we’re nowhere near returning government to the people; right now we’re heading into the most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history, bent on handing over government to those with the most dollars.


Copyright 2012 Gerald E. Scorse. Op-eds by the author have appeared on numerous websites and in major newspapers.



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This story was published on June 7, 2012.

 

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