Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Can the Wealthy Really Buy Elections?

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There is much hand-wringing over the issue of campaign financing, and the presumption, on both sides, that the other side is buying elections. Yet no one seems to be able to point out which election, exactly, has been purchased by big money interests and by whom?

Examples include the fact that Sheldon Adelson gave $100 million to Newt Gingrich during the 2012 primary. This is the guy with the casinos in Macao and the desire to see Israel become the 51st state. He is, presumably, a pretty smart guy, yet he spent the equal of the GDP of a small Latin American country on the Presidential aspirations of an aging Pillsbury dough boy. That money’s gone, and, thankfully, Newt still can’t get a ride on Air Force One.

Meg Whitman spent $90 million to become governor of California, yet the governor of California is named Jerry Brown.

Campaign finance spending is a zero sum game. There are an equal amount of rich Democrats and Republicans. They give roughly equal amounts to their respective candidates. There is only so much TV air time for sale, and they’re close to saturating it now. Plus, who among us has been swayed by a TV add or robocall? All this money that gets spent on these extremely basic forms of advertising have yet to be proven effective. Barack Obama’s last campaign is said to have cost almost $1 billion. Does anyone think that if the next guy spends $1.1 billion that he’s assured the election?

Looking at it another way, the spending of money, for whatever reason, is good for the economy. Imagine how many local print shops are bolstered by campaign money. How many jobs are created, albeit temporary jobs, manning phone banks and the like. And all the newspaper and TV ads that go to support the people who work for those firms. They all eat lunch, get their clothes dry-cleaned, and buy gas for their cars to get to work. Every one of these things is a boost for the economy.

And the money is not coming from people who don’t want to spend it. The money is coming from lots of wealthy people who would otherwise be keeping it in an off-shore bank account or some other place where its not accessible. The fact that they’re spending it on campaigns puts it back in circulation and increases spending in what was recently a stagnant economy.

Plus I like seeing wealthy people throw their money away. It gives me a sense that the world is a fair place..


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