Money and the American delusion

To the Editor:

The notion that money in politics is a new phenomenon is quite obviously false. Influence peddling, access peddling, "pork" for certain districts or states, or industries based on your connection to Congress, is as old as the Republic itself. Selfish interests are a part of the human condition, whether you view this as good or bad - doesn't matter; it just simply is. You can argue points about the "greater good;" however, your point of view will serve to contribute to the "storm cloud" surrounding the subject at hand, but what you cannot argue is the existence of, or rather the influence of, Money. Let me tell you a story that just so happens to be true.

George Washington was summoned to Congress to be given a pension of $12,000/ annum, and he refused, saying that he would retire to Mt. Vernon, and submit only an expense voucher annually. It sounded good, and quite considerably spoke to the prudent values that the members of Congress shared. Washington's first expense report exceeded $409,000.

So as it was and will be, that the dollar reigns the "highest" of what could be a long list of what really matters. This is hardly new information; however, what is new is the proportion of today's financial meanderings.

In 1960, the relationship financially between top and bottom employees, was roughly 20-1. Today it is 300-600 times to one. It does not take a genius to discern that these relationships are completely out of "whack."

"K" Street or "Lobby Lane" should be eliminated . . . period. Money in Washington is so out of proportion to what is just, reasonable, fair and moral for those of us who don't have lobbyist access, it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

The Banking lobby alone spends in excess of $500 million per year to affect legislation that protects their interests, not to mention Big Oil, Pharmaceutical, Insurance, Agra-subsidies, shipping, Big Coal, and a litany of other interests, including Pension interests and Unions.

I would suggest that if all of this money were eliminated, we would all be better off, including the Lobbying business itself - not to mention members of Congress. U. S. Senators spend on average 60 percent of their time raising MONEY.

What protects these "interests" is clearly a co-mingling of funds and a "conflict of interest," and we get nothing. I don't mean a "hand-out," I mean a chance to play by the same rules (not theirs, ours). If the "American Dream" is compromised by huge special interests, the "Dream" itself is very questionable and perhaps only an illusion.

J. Clift



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