The Problem: Government in the United States of America has been taken over by those with excessive financial resources.
- This includes extremely wealthy individuals and large for-profit corporations.
- They are using the machinery of government to further enrich and empower themselves.
- The extremely wealthy have become more dominant in the control of elections and our government systems than in almost any time in our history.
- The Middle class and the impoverished have become all but disenfranchised.
- Democracy, as most citizens conceive of it, has failed.
- The public interest has been superseded by the profit motive.
The interests of these ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations, more often than not, are in conflict with the public interest.
- For-profit corporations are legally mandated to maximize profit.
- All corporate political expenditures are generally made in an effort to maximize profit.
- Profits are increased by externalizing costs, e.g. transferring the costs of business to the American tax-payer.
- Profits are increased by lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
- Profits are increased by eliminating regulations that impose social responsibility:
- Decent wages, hours and working conditions
- Environmental concerns
- Profits are increased by war.
- There has been a concerted and successful effort to convince the public that corporate
interests are synonymous with public interests. For example:
- The “Job Creator” myth. (There is no evidence that cutting top tax rates coincides with higher employment rates. The evidence is, in fact, to the contrary.)
- The assertion that deregulation translates into benefits for the general public. (Think “phone bill” or “cable bill” or “health care costs” and “too big to fail.”)
- Stating that fair trade arrangements benefit the general public. (But if your job has been exported or if you have any kind of social conscience, then “Not so much.” This particular public deception relies on citizens adopting an “If it’s not Me, then it’s OK” attitude. This has been strongly encouraged by some portions of the business community [read Wall Street and mega-corporations] because it keeps us separated.)
Money has become political power in many ways. The restoration of Democracy requires that these connections be broken.
- Campaign financing allows the wealthy to select and influence candidates and elected officials.
- Media ownership by the extremely wealthy allows the shaping of public opinion by controlling the information disseminated to the public.
- The revolving door between government regulators and big business allows
new-fashioned legal bribery.
- Unlimited highly paid professional lobbying makes the opportunity to influence elected officials a commodity that is available in proportion to one’s wealth.
Corporations cannot be allowed to impersonate individual human citizens.
- By legal mandate, for-profit corporations must act for the benefit of shareholders at the expense of the broader public.
- They have resources that vastly exceed those of ordinary citizens.
- They have, by law, limited liability that shields ownership from lawsuits.
- They are not mortal. They exist for as long as they are financially viable.
Money should not be considered the legal equivalent of political speech.
- Money creates the opportunity for speech, but in and of itself is not speech.
- Our present Supreme Court though, has allowed the extremely wealthy to have a megaphone of political speech that overwhelms the rest of our citizenry.
- “One person, one vote” embodies the essential characteristic of democracy: We would like to think that every enfranchised citizen should have an equal potential to influence government policy. This is totally denied when $$$$ is treated as the legal equivalent of political free speech.
- Through the use of extreme wealth, technology and the communication infrastructure, public opinion has become a commodity which can be sold and/or manipulated through the mainstream media.
- Personal or corporate wealth can, therefore, be translated directly into political influence.
- Wealth distribution is SHARPLY skewed toward the financial elite. No matter how bad you think wealth inequality is in our country, you are wrong. It is worse than that!
- This is incompatible with democracy.
Correcting these problems requires granting the government the authority to create and enforce laws that eliminate the relationship between excessive wealth and political power.
- Clarifying that the rights of corporations are not synonymous with those of living natural persons and do not derive from the original intent of the Constitution.
- The creation of regulations to limit how much individual citizens and corporations may expend money with the intent of influencing government policy.
- Provision of a publicly funded alternative for the financing of political campaigns.
We need to Get BIG MONEY out of politics!
(Bolded material is added for reference or inclusion at the discretion of the speaker.)
The Washington State Coalition to Amend the U.S. Constitution
P.O. Box 17939
Seattle WA, 98127