SEARCH BLOG: GOVERNMENT and POLITICS
Bill always sends interesting and challenging emails. Yesterday, I received this:
I recommend reading Dean Baker's blog. He's knocking some of his fellow economists out of the ring. Knockout punch style.I responded in my usual long and roundabout way [some typos fixed and a few asides added]:
Well worth it.
Bill,Maybe there is no real way to avoid money having the first say... even if it is the worst say for us. The representative process may be just too broken to repair it to its original design.
I have reluctantly concluded that our representative form of government has lost its way.
Contrary to what the press or political candidates or political parties say, our country was not based on the idea of a democracy of ill-informed voters casting their votes for specific initiatives [such as health insurance or trade regulations]. Rather, our government was conceived during a time when the culture was relatively homogeneous and small. The people knew their representatives and the leaders were men of achievement and reputation outside of politics. The representatives knew that their responsibility was to protect the interests of their states and their people.
Now the population has become magnitudes larger and the culture is "diverse" ... fragmented and disjointed, if you will. A representative is supposed to represent hundreds of thousands instead of hundreds or thousands. Senators are even more removed from the individual voters. Now there are special interest representatives who have the attention of our representatives and senators. Some of those special interest representatives may align with us on an issue... or not. Some special interests may represent interests that are foreign and against our best interests. But all of those special interests bring money to the table. And that money buys candidates and future votes. And those votes may not have anything to do with the interests of the "common citizen" or any citizen.
We seem to have a government of special interests, paid by special interests, and for special interests... whether they are banks, unions, investment firms, foreign governments, trial lawyers, or whatever. The factory worker, small businessman, educator, doctor, and your neighbor may be able to cast votes, but they are not really voting for someone who represents them when bills are introduced and votes are counted.
Obama may not have a record of substance or an understanding of economics or the dynamics of foreign relations. But I think he has picked up on a general feeling that our government may no longer represent us... whether we are liberals or conservatives... and he is playing to that discontent [and the unending gullibility of voters].
Baker is off target: it's not about economists being right or wrong or the Federal Reserve making stupid or untimely decisions or if the Federal government should manage health care. It is that our system and our representatives are no longer for the commonweal, but are for the special interests. It's all about the money.
Voters are content with being told by their unions or parties or corporations what is best for them... so they rally to empty suits... or suits full of foreign cash. And they get politicians from both parties who spend money as if it were free to purchase loyalty, pass legislation to benefit the manipulators, and promise us CHANGE... small change... bus fare... what's left over after the special interests get theirs.
Maybe it has always been that way... bail out the banks and investment houses, government benefits for illegal aliens (potential voters), sweet deals and pardons for campaign contributors... but I don't think that is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind or George Washington fought for.It's not the stupid economy! That'll recover.