Posts Tagged ‘Money Power’

What needs to be redistributed?

May 28, 2013

Norman-Rockwell-Freedom-of-Speech-1943The people in the upper 1 percent income bracket are getting richer, and most of the rest are falling behind or barely keeping even.  But I don’t think wealth or income as such need to be redistributed.  What this country needs is a redistribution of political and economic power.

I would like to see a world in which labor unions, producer cooperatives and consumer cooperatives are equal in power and status to business corporations, and labor unions, consumer and environmental associations and community organizations are equal in power to business assocaitions.

Then it would be possible to deal with issues of corporate governance, monopoly power, labor relations, election laws, government transparency, conflicts of interest and all the other systemic means by which a tiny elite can milk the system for their own benefit.

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. supposedly said, there can be no freedom of contract without equality of bargaining power.  If power is widely distributed, the distribution of wealth and income will take care of itself.

The political one percent of the one percent

February 18, 2012

Double click to enlarge.

Only about 1/100th of 1 percent of the U.S. population make political contributions of $10,000 or more in any election campaign, according to the Sunlight Foundation, but they account for nearly a quarter of the total.   The largest share of that came from FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector.  FIRE contributions of $10,000 or more are up 700 percent since 1990.

The average contribution by a member of the 1 percent of the 1 percent was $28,913 in 2010, the Sunlight Foundation reported; that was more than the average American’s total income, which was $26,364.

These wealthy contributors are gatekeepers of the American political process.  Their contributions to political parties rose from 18 percent of all contributions in 1990 to 32 percent in 2010, with Democrats getting a slightly higher share than Republicans.   An increasing number of federal candidates get more than half their funds from the 1 percent of the 1 percent.

About 55 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent are affiliated with corporations, with Goldman Sachs leading the rest.   The Sunlight Foundation found another 16 percent affiliated with law firms and lobbyists, and 18 percent “ideological” contributors, who gave to organizations such as Emily’s List, the Club for Growth and Act Blue.

The 1 percent of the 1 percent comprises just under 27,000 people.  Within that group, there is an elite of 252 who contributed between $100,000 and $500,000 toward the 2010 elections, and 15 who contributed more than $500,000.

This elite group accounted for a majority of the contributions to Republican Presidential candidates’ PACS— Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Future, Rick Perry’s Make Us Great Again, Jon Huntsman’s Our Destiny PAC, Newt Gingrich’s Winning Our Future, Ron Paul’s Embrace Liberty and Rick Santorum’s Red, White and Blue Fund.

Click on The Political One Percent of the One Percent for the Sunlight Foundation’s full report.

Click on How the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate Sector Drove the Growth of the One Percent of the One Percent for the Sunlight Foundation’s follow-up report.

Click on Presidential Super PACS almost entirely funded by six-figure contributions for a report on the 2012 Republican candidates by Talking Points Memo.

Money power and people power

October 22, 2010

The big new factor in the current election is not the Tea Party rebellion from below.  It is the corporate money revolution from above.

The game of politics has long been stacked to the advantage of corporations and multi-millionaires, but their advantage has been raised to a new level. The right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision earlier this year unleashed corporations to spend money without limit and in secret.  They lost no time in taking advantage of this ruling.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month on how the flood of corporate money is affecting the 2010 election campaign:

Interest groups are spending five times as much on the 2010 congressional elections as they did on the last midterms, and they are more secretive than ever about where that money is coming from.

The $80 million spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms. In that election, the vast majority of money – more than 90 percent – was disclosed along with donors’ identities. This year, that figure has fallen to less than half of the total …

The trends amount to a spending frenzy conducted largely in the shadows.  The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives, who have swamped their Democratic-aligned competition by 7 to 1 in recent weeks. …

Conservative groups such as Americans for Job Security and Crossroads GPS, an arm of the American Crossroads group, co-founded by former George W. Bush administration adviser Karl Rove, are organized as nonprofits and don’t have to disclose who is giving them money. Some liberal groups, such as the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, are also nonprofits but raise money on a much smaller scale.

One major player this year is the 60 Plus Association, an Alexandria-based group that bills itself as the conservative alternative to the AARP seniors group. In 2008, the group reported less than $2 million in revenue, most of it from direct-mail contributions.

This year the group has spent $7 million on election-related ads, according to its FEC reports. It also funded a $9 million campaign against Obama’s health-care overhaul in 2009.

Click on Washington Post for the full article.

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