“No bribe?” [the Congressman] said, “why am I taking this meeting?!”

Posted by – January 14, 2013

If you haven’t heard last year’s Planet Money on campaign fundraising (I refer to this as campaign bribetributions, a hybrid of campaign contributions and blatant bribery) then you should:

Planet Money wrote:
[The Congressman] said, “I have put in two calls to your PAC director and I haven’t received any returned phone calls. Now why am I taking this meeting?” And he held up a piece of paper with my PAC director’s name highlighted in yellow on it with the dates and the times that he had called her to ask her for a campaign donation, and she hadn’t returned his call … He has warned me that if I don’t … [contribute] to his campaign, then he’s not going to help my guys.

Full podcast: Inside Washington’s Money Machine : Planet Money : NPR

We all know the political fundraising climate of our time…the bar for campaign costs keeps going up and up and up. Team Obama said that they had to raise a record $One Billion for the 2012 re-election run, THEN THEY DID, the cycle continues, campaign costs go up exponentially, largely driven by soaring TV ad time prices, and the government world is more and more and more focused on campaign fundraising.

In order to raise the obscene amounts of money necessary, politicians have to spend more and more of their time (time they should be using serving us, the voters and constituents) chasing down donors. They have to send the message that they’re carefully counting who’s giving how much, to create a competitive atmosphere. And send not-so-subtle signals that there’s going to be a return on the investment. Often, these signals are about as subtle as a foghorn at a funeral.

Political graft has become so aggressive, you now have situations like the one described on Planet Money above, implicit quid pro quo no longer carries enough cost certainty for some, some Congressmen are furious when expected PAC graft payments don’t come in fast enough!

Right now, we have a system of open, legal bribery; ALL the incentives and thus, inevitably, ALL the policymaking energy is lined up against efforts to help normal constituents, and lined up for the special interests that give money to elect candidates. This totally skews the system so that the corrupt incentives make the government serve powerful private interests first and the public good only accidentally, but it remains completely legal.

I am desperate to address the crisis of campaign bribetributions making government only serve moneyed interests (not democracy but bribeocracy). If the powerful will never let us remove campaign bribetributions from our system, how do we realign the corruption to serve the people NOT just narrow interests with fat stacks of $$$$???

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