Friday, February 24, 2017

The Real Problem is Congress

Just when the world can’t get any stranger; Congress decides to allow mentally ill people to purchase firearms.  The strange part of this piece of news is that we don’t have any details about what it actually means.  The media is only interested in clicks and sales, and will do anything to get our attention.  Like most of us, I started out as outraged that such a thing could happen.  Then I realize that this was the desired effect.  If I am outraged, I don’t have the calmness required to question the reality of this piece  of news, I’m supposed to get angry and react.  Our leaders are using outrage as a tool to maintain their power.  While we are outraged at either the Democrats or Republicans, (it doesn’t really matter), they are able to legislate in favor of those that pay them the most.  Looking at the Center for Responsive Politics report on 2016 spending by industry groups shows that Pharmaceuticals/Health Products and Insurance are to two top lobbyists spending a combined $390 million dollars.  Is there any question as to how our drug prices have not only increased dramatically, but also we have laws that say the government can’t bargain over the prices they pay!  Not to mention the health insurers complaining about huge losses that force them to raise ACA rates while somehow having war chests large enough to propose the largest mergers in US business history!

The cold truth is that our Congress now represents our special interest groups rather than our voters.  When we wish to accomplish something that requires Congress’s approval, we contact our Congressperson but more importantly we contact our special interest group.  Our Congressperson will verify that we can vote for them, and then do what they can.  If they are not on the right committee there is very little they can do.  Our lobbyist will determine  which committee handles the question, they already have a relationship with the leaders, and then they will get it handled.  Of course there were campaign contributions made, within the framework of the law, prior to and after the desired effects are realized. It’s no wonder then that those special interests giving the most money will have the most control over Congress public be damned.  Is it any wonder that our Veterans are given such short shrift when they don’t have a group in the top 20 of political donors? 

I am surprised that the current fuss about Russia meddling in our campaign is as large as it is.  There is no fuss at all about Washington DC meddling in our Minnesota campaigns.  The campaign of Nolan versus Mills was particularly dirty.  We have two decent Minnesotans with differing views, wanting to improve our state.  The ads that they approved were quite informational.  The ads that came out of Washington DC cast both as monsters.  I was outraged that someone from out of state could come in and trash our good citizens with a dose of hate.

Unfortunately our leaders, media included, see campaign finance as the goose that lays the golden egg and will do nothing to slay it.  We need a grass roots movement to promote a Constitutional Amendment reading:

Notwithstanding the First Amendment, efforts to influence elections to public office in the United States and its’ subdivisions shall be limited to those who are able to vote in said election.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

I am hopeful that this might even bring the Tea Party supporters to agree with the Bernie supporters.  Please consider the consequences.   

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