Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 08:35
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 08:47
Libertarians in AZ ran under clean money and won. If they didnt believe in using taxpayers funds for campaigns I would not have expected them to go against their principles, since they hold those above all else. > an agenda for the leftwing of the Democrat party? As a lifelong Republican who voted for George Bush, I disagree. Picking the pockets of the public is a non-partisan concern. > #74 of 95: from JOHN ADAMS "The vast majority of Americans, > voting and non-voting, want some form of national health > insurance." > (Michael) would like to see some proof of this. Certainly not the kind of proof you would require but The American Prospect (Oct) has an excellent pair of articles on health care coverage in which they support the claim that the majority of Americans support a national health care policy. > Even if everyone in America said that they want national health > insurance that would not make it right. Then I sure dont know who America should be catering to. The minority? In this case the minority might want to refuse the national coverage (and get a tax credit) and buy their own policy or services. Thats what freedom is all about. This would not be taking the rights away from neither the majority nor minority. Thats what we call individual rights, and in no way do I believe that the individual should have the right to control the majority, which in effect Michael supports. > Wrongheaded ideas like "national healthcare" are exactly why we > have a republic rather than a democracy. We have neither a republic nor a democracy, we have a plutocracy . exactly the point made in Is That a Politician in Your Pocket? Take the money out of the political system and you might have a point. > Government control of candidacy is a bad idea. Currently we have candidacy controlled by the wealthy, and thats better? Have you calculated just how much money the special interests (who control the candidates) are siphoning from your yearly budget as they pay for the elections? The number is between $150 billion and $200 billion per year in corporate welfare, about $2000 per year per taxpayer. Isnt that called takings? > National healthcare would be as disastrous here as it has been > everywhere else. I disagree. Im on Medicare and extending it to the masses would not be disastrous. But if you dont like it, buy your own insurance coverage. Thats what freedom is all about. > Actually taxing people who may or may not support this or that > candidate in order to give their money to that candidate is wrong. You really should understand the flow of the money: Special interests fund candidates who in turn pass legislation that must be paid for by the taxpayers. Those candidates are from both parties, so you _already are_ paying for the campaigns of candidates you dont agree with. But as I said earlier, you are paying through the back door and at hundreds of times more than if you simply paid up front with full public funding of campaigns. It turns out to be costing each taxpayer, on average, about $3000 per year. Id rather pay the $15 per year that it would cost to publicly fund the state and federal elections (if it were ten times that amount Id still be happy with it). > Anyone who can scrape up some as yet undefined number of $5 > contributions suddenly has a right to take the food off the > tables of those who prefer not to vote. Food is already coming off the tables of the majority of the population who are paying their $3000 per year to fund the current electoral system. People have given up voting because they know the fat cats have control of the politicians. After the majority of voters in Arizona voted for public funding of campaigns, voter turnout increased by 25%. See: www.azclean.org/documents/8-9-042002SuccessStats.doc
Nancy Watzman (nancywatzman) Thu 7 Oct 04 09:56
On the issue of trade, the Missouri Citizen Education Fund recently did a study analyzing campaign contributions from companies outsourcing jobs overseas from that state. The group found that campaign contributions by CEOs of companies that were sending Missouri jobs overseas contributed to Bush at a much greater rate (13-1) than they had to Kerry, $132,375 to $16,000. The authors conclude that this group of executives are unified in their choice of a candidate whose public policies will protect, or even promote, their practice of offshoring jobs to low cost countries, pointing out that Greg Mankiw, a top Bush economic advisor, has stated that Outsourcing is just another way of doing international trade. When a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than to make or provide it domestically. (See the report at http://www.stl-jwj.org/news_items/20040906_outsourcing.htm.) In addition, David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, has also written about top Bush donors outsourcing jobs (http://www.campaignmoney.org/spotlight/sis03_17_04.htm). A. Malachi (Mal) Mixon III is a Bush ranger, and his company, Invacare, which manufactures wheelchairs and other medical equipment has closed down plants in Ohio and opened new ones in China. The company has also opened a call-center in India. These are perfect examples of how the cronyism the current campaign finance system promotes helps perpetuate particular policies. One can argue of course that Bush is collecting contributions from these CEOs simply because they agree with his trade policy, not because the campaign money is convincing him to take a position that he otherwise would not have taken. But, then again, the CEOs have the money to cement this relationship. What about the outsourced workers? Corporate interests outspend labor unions on campaign contributions 14 to 1. What would the national debate about trade look like if all voters were on an equal footing with candidates, in which their clout wasnt measured out in campaign dollars?
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 10:56
To top it off, I understand that companies that move operations offshore actually receive tax breaks for doing so. Is that correct, Nancy or Micah, or anybody else with info on it?
Seahorses of the Liver (mnemonic) Thu 7 Oct 04 12:16
mercury writes: 'This so-called "clean money" talk is really an agenda for the leftwing of the Democrat party.' I don't see how that is true, given that the Clean Money framework is an opt-in framework. It's not compulsory.
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 13:27
> Aren't those Canadian drugs cheap because the government > subsidizes them? No, Canada doesn't subsidize them, but Canada is allowed to negotiate with the drug companies for lowest price. The last Medicare bill actually ***prohibits*** Medicare from negotiating for lower prices with the drug companies. This was at the behest of Big Pharma, who gave $49 million since 2000. That's democracy at work!
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 14:45
On that same subject (from www.WhiteHouseForSale,org): <clip> Bush Profits from the Medicare Drug War In the final push for Medicare prescription drug legislation, the pharmaceutical industry, HMOs and related interests spent more money and hired more lobbyists in 2003 than ever before, according to The Medicare Drug War, a new report by Public Citizen. The pharmaceutical and managed care industries spent a combined $141 million last year. Drugmakers and HMOs hired 952 individual lobbyists in 2003 nearly half of whom had "revolving door" connections to Congress, the White House or the executive branch. Drug industry and HMO executives and lobbyists also rank among President Bushs elite fundraisers. Twenty-one executives and lobbyists achieved "Ranger" or "Pioneer" status. These Rangers and Pioneers have collected at least $3.4 million for Bush so far. In addition, two of John Kerrys biggest backers were lobbyists on the drug industry payroll in 2003. Learn more about The Medicare Drug War. At www.citizen.org/congress/reform/rx_benefits/drug_benefit/articles.cfm?ID=11852 View a list of Rangers and Pioneers from the drug and managed care industries: www.whitehouseforsale.org/documents/RPDrugandHMO.pdf <clip> ---- I guess I could accept virtually any kind of bill signed into law if I knew that cash wasn't changing hands behind the scenes. Health care is just one of many areas of concern, and for those who have not purchased the book yet, I recommend it highly (unless you have a weak stomach).
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Thu 7 Oct 04 15:30
The pharma example in <93> and <106> are indeed very good examples of special-interest money and political results, but the underlying economics are *much* more complex than they appear. The ban on importing from Canada (which, by the way, is not enforced against individuals, and there is a lively cross-border trade) is indeed protectionist, but the pharma companies actually have a plausible case, which is that Canadian prices are only market prices in the context of the Canadian system, where the single-payer systems have colluded to create a monopsonic cartel of buyers which drove down the prices of drugs. That cartel exists only due to State action, and in a free market would probably not exist. HOWEVER, the high prices of drugs in the U.S. are based on (1) the patent system, and (2) the very high bar presented by the FDA approval process, both of which are, themselves, based in State action. So it's a true mess.
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 16:12
Indeed the patent system is a culprit; it locks out generics for 20 years, but that's not all: * Drug companies spend more money on advertising than they do on research and development (R&D). * One third of all new drug R&D is funded by the taxpayers through grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), yet the patent rights that result from this research do not remain with the taxpayers. * The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable in the world, at over 14% even after deducting its R&D and high television advertising costs. * Drugs that result from NIH funding are not licensed, but given to the drug companies so they can patent them and lock out cheaper generics. The patent holder then charges the public whatever the market will bear, such prices having nothing to do with the cost to develop or manufacture. As a result, critical drugs for seniors and the seriously ill have the highest markup, and drugs that sell for pennies in Africa by U.S. drug companies are sold for dollars in the U.S.. * The costly cancer drug Taxol and AZT (for AIDS) are two examples, but there are hundreds more. The markup on these drugs is astronomical, even though they were both developed with taxpayer funds. Frankly, it would be cheaper for the public to have all medical research funded by the NIH and made available to all qualified manufacturers, but that would mean increasing the control of government to the dismay of the right wing. Ouch!
Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Fri 8 Oct 04 04:59
How does political money affect the potential of domestic attacks? One area most of us are concerned about is domestic security, and the recent find (in a Middle East computer) of a dozen or so US school addresses and building layouts is particularly troubling. Are we prepared for a school takeover on US soil? What preventative measures should we be taking (if the money were available)? What does all of this have to do with campaign finance reform? It is fact that Bush-Cheney received major cash injections by the NRA, and it has been found in a terrorist manual the advice: dont smuggle your guns, buy them in the US. The recent intentional lapse of the assault weapon ban is not what I would have hoped for (though I am pro-gun, just not for AK-47s). I look at the depressed wages that have resulted both from outsourcing and allowing illegal aliens into the US, the first being a significant boon to corporate contributors and the latter a boon to Al Qaeda. Yes, we catch some at the border but others get through (recent news reports of the breakup of a smuggling ring in Michigan that netted dozens of Middle Easterners is troubling). Border security is a joke, and Bush is unconcerned. His contributors like it just as it is, thank you. So now the real question: Why did President Bush authorize $500 billion to develop a widely-labeled ineffective national missile defense system when the weapons of the next war are gong to enter the US in a suitcase, or are already here? The government is warning us to beware, not of missiles in the air but of terrorists on the ground. Just as missile defense would not protect our troops against terrorists in Iraq, it will not help us when al Qaeda starts destroying our food resources, capturing schools, using car bombs against US citizens on land, and firing rocket propelled grenades at commercial planes in the air. If they dont kill our people, theyll kill our economy. This is a new kind of war that requires new thinking. The point? The $500 billion would be better spent strengthening our borders, airports and shipping docks, and building a strong intelligence system to head off domestic attacks. But that clearly wouldnt make happy the hundreds of defense contractors who contribute over $20 million each year to the president and politicians who voted for the missile defense system. This is a major diversion of much needed public resources, all for financial/political gain. This $500 billion expenditure could have waited a year or two, and under CM/CE it would have.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 8 Oct 04 13:18
Stepping in with a big thanks to Micah, Nancy, and Mike for joining us here. Obviously there's still a lot of energy in the discussion, and everyone is welcome to continue, though today's the start of the next inkwell.vue discussion with Dan Gillmor.
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