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06.22 'Washing is a privilege': life on the frontline of India's water crisis

06.21 China Just Handed the World a 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem [we must switch to bioplastics ASAP]

06.21 Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever

06.20 ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Agenda Benefits Koch Industries, Nationwide [the sociopaths are at it again]

06.18 Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – study

06.16 Delhi's air pollution is now so bad it is literally off the chart [an increasingly deadly problem]

06.16 Former Bank of Canada Head: Pipeline Protesters May Be Killed. So Be It.

06.15 What if Canada had backed wind energy instead of the oil sands? [infographic]

06.14 The rate of Antarctic melting has nearly tripled in the past five years

06.14 The legal fight to leave the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground

06.12 Our plastic pollution crisis is too big for recycling to fix

06.12 Giant African baobab trees die suddenly after thousands of years

06.10 Microplastics in our mussels: the sea is feeding human garbage back to us [our pollution becomes us...]

06.10 The best way to save the planet? Drop meat and dairy

06.10 Pope Francis tells oil bosses world must reduce fossil fuel use

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06.22 As 'Wealthiest and Freest Country in the World,' Nikki Haley Tells Bernie Sanders It's 'Ridiculous' to Examine US Poverty [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]

06.22 50 Years Later, We Still Have a Dream [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]

06.21 Migrants in Detention Are Suffering Widespread Abuse and Neglect

06.21 James Comey: 'You stare at children crying – what kind of people are we?’ [We have stupidly allowed bribery and greed to corrupt government to the point where morality—and what's best for people is totally ignored...is considered too late.]

06.20 Democratic candidates vow to dump Pelosi [if you want single-payer, then corporate Democrats must not have leadership]

06.20 Millions Lack Food, Housing, and Healthcare, But 38 Democrats Just Joined GOP to Spend $716 Billion on Endless War and Empire [it's about pleasing your corporate base for huge “campaign donations”]

06.20 'Morally Bankrupt': After Tax Cuts for Richest, House GOP Unveils $5.4 Trillion Attack on Nation's Safety Net [the sociopaths are at it again]

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06.15 Trump and family sued by New York attorney general over alleged charity violations

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06.17 Coalition Ignores Famine Warnings and Continues Assault on Yemen as Critics Question US Complicity [BARBARISM]

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06.22 The Unsurpassed Power Trip by an Insuperable Control Freak: An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]

06.19 'CEOs don't want this released': US study lays bare extreme pay-ratio problem

06.16 As AT&T-Time Warner Close Deal, Floodgates 'Wide Open' for Corporate Mega-Mergers

06.16 Social mobility in richest countries 'has stalled since 1990s'

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06.22 Europe’s democrats must unite to prevent a far-right takeover [how underregulated capitalism kills people and entire nations]

06.21 Trump’s Astonishing Reversal Is No Solution

06.21 Basic income could work—if you do it Canada-style

06.20 The list: _It's 34,361 and rising: how the List tallies Europe's migrant bodycount [Download a PDF of the List here]

06.20 'Outraged, But Frankly Not Surprised': In Defense of Serial Violator Israel, US Ditches UN Human Rights Council [the sociopaths are at it again]

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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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