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05.27 Growth at all costs: climate change, fossil fuel subsidies and the Treasury

05.27 Peru planning to dam Amazon’s main source and displace 1000s

05.26 Suicide By Pesticide

05.26 ‘Climate Change Deniers Are Like Alcoholics’ | Ed Begley, Jr. [9:50 video]

05.26 Companies aren't doing enough to prevent catastrophic climate change, new report finds

05.26 Dow Chemical aims to 'redefine the role of business in society'

05.25 Decision Time on the Hudson

05.25 Stronger Regulation of Toxic Chemicals

05.25 The benefits of solar do outweigh its costs. Some have a hard time accepting it

05.24 Welcome to Baoding, China's most polluted city

05.24 Shell boss endorses warnings about fossil fuels and climate change [Related: Protests at Shell's annual meeting]

05.24 Cannes concludes with call-to-arms on climate change: ‘To not tackle the issue through film would be criminal’

05.24 Denton, Texas, banned fracking last year – then the frackers fought back [It's Texas, so...]

05.24 Can high-tech photosynthesis turn CO2 into fuel for your car?

05.24 California oil spill company under local, state and federal investigation [Non-public infrastructure is stupidly neglected, too]

05.24 Drought-stricken California loses 50m gallons of water as vandals target dam

05.24 Where the River Runs Dry

05.23 California accepts historic offer by farmers to cut water usage by 25%

05.23 Altering Course [long book review]

05.23 Organic farming 'benefits biodiversity' [The opposite of GMO focus on yield only]

05.23 Air Pollution Reduces Cognition, & Not Just Via The Lungs

05.23 Study Finds Possible Association Between Autism and Air Pollution

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05.26 Glenn Greenwald, I’m sorry: Why I changed my mind on Edward Snowden

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05.27 Supreme Court Agrees to Settle Meaning of ‘One Person One Vote’

05.27 The Troubled Relationship Between Texas and FEMA

05.26 Bobby Jindal reaches peak stupid: One-time GOP savior embraces hate speech to appease bigots, wingnuts

05.25 Bernie Sanders warns Democratic rivals for presidency: don't underestimate me

05.25 Stupid Pentagon Budget Tricks

05.25 Public-Sector Jobs Vanish, Hitting Blacks Hard

05.25 'Fight for $15' will ease economic inequality. But could it end police violence too?

05.24 Multiple arrests in Cleveland after officer in case of 137 police shots is acquitted [Here we go again]

05.24 Elizabeth Warren is winning: How the progressive icon is remaking politics — without running for president

05.24 7 ways Bernie Sanders could transform America

Justice Matters

05.26 The Fraud of War

05.23 Why We Let Prison Rape Go On

High Crimes?

05.23 Attacks on the last elephants and rhinos threaten entire ecosystems

05.22 Matt Taibbi: World’s Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)

05.22 Gaza economy 'on verge of collapse', with world's highest unemployment

05.21 Elephant Watch

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05.26 Robert Reich: Corporate Collusion Is Rampant and We All Pay the Steep Price

05.25 Senator Warren calls for public hearings on bank waivers: FT

05.25 Did China Just Launch World's Biggest Spending Plan?

05.25 HSBC fears world recession with no lifeboats left

05.23 EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

International

05.27 Steve Wozniak: Edward Snowden is 'a hero to me'

05.26 Interview with Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei: 'The State Is Scared'

05.26 Refugee Abuse: Torture Scandal Rocks German Police

05.26 Cyber-Attack Warning: Could Hackers Bring Down a Plane?

05.26 They’re all still lying about Iraq: The real story about the biggest blunder in American history — and the right wing’s obsessive need to cover it up

05.25 Daesh/ ISIL blows up Shiite Mosque in Saudi Arabia, seeking Sectarian Civil War

05.25 US Kneejerk support for Israeli Nukes Torpedoes UN Disarmament Talks

05.25 Did the US DIA see ISIL as a strategic Ally against al-Assad in 2012?

05.25 Burma's birth control law exposes Buddhist fear of Muslim minority

05.25 3,000 children enslaved in Britain after being trafficked from Vietnam

05.25 India heatwave kills more than 500 people

05.25 Amid the ruins of Syria, is Bashar al-Assad now finally facing the end?

05.24 Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS

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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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