inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #101 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 08:35
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #102 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 08:47
Libertarians in AZ ran under clean money and won. If they didn’t
believe in using taxpayers funds for campaigns I would not have
expected them to go against their principles, since they hold those
above all else.

> an agenda for the leftwing of the Democrat party?  

As a lifelong Republican who voted for George Bush, I disagree.
Picking the pockets of the public is a non-partisan concern.  

> #74 of 95: from JOHN ADAMS "The vast majority of Americans, 
> voting and non-voting, want some form of national health 
> insurance."
> (Michael) would like to see some proof of this.

Certainly not the kind of proof you would require but The American
Prospect (Oct) has an excellent pair of articles on health care
coverage in which they support the claim that the majority of
Americans support a national health care policy.

> Even if everyone in America said that they want national health
> insurance that would not make it right.

Then I sure don’t know who America should be catering to. The
minority? In this case the minority might want to refuse the national
coverage (and get a tax credit) and buy their own policy or services.
That’s what freedom is all about. This would not be taking the rights
away from neither the majority nor minority. That’s what we call
individual rights, and in no way do I believe that the individual
should have the right to control the majority, which in effect Michael

> Wrongheaded ideas like "national healthcare" are exactly why we
> have a republic rather than a democracy.

We have neither a republic nor a democracy, we have a plutocracy….
exactly the point made in “Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?” Take
the money out of the political system and you might have a point.

> Government control of candidacy is a bad idea.

Currently we have candidacy controlled by the wealthy, and that’s
better? Have you calculated just how much money the special interests
(who control the candidates) are siphoning from your yearly budget as
they pay for the elections? The number is between $150 billion and
$200 billion per year in corporate welfare, about $2000 per year per
taxpayer. Isn’t that called “takings?”

> National healthcare would be as disastrous here as it has been 
> everywhere else.

I disagree. I’m on Medicare and extending it to the masses would not
be disastrous. But if you don’t like it, buy your own insurance
coverage. That’s what freedom is all about.

> Actually taxing people who may or may not support this or that
> candidate in order to give their money to that candidate is wrong.

You really should understand the flow of the money: Special interests
fund candidates who in turn pass legislation that must be paid for by
the taxpayers. Those candidates are from both parties, so you _already
are_  paying for the campaigns of candidates you don’t agree with. But
as I said earlier, you are paying through the back door and at
hundreds of times more than if you simply paid up front with full
public funding of campaigns. It turns out to be costing each taxpayer,
on average, about $3000 per year. I’d rather pay the $15 per year that
it would cost to publicly fund the state and federal elections (if it
were ten times that amount I’d still be happy with it).

> Anyone who can scrape up some as yet undefined number of $5 
> contributions suddenly has a right to take the food off the 
> tables of those who prefer not to vote.

Food is already coming off the tables of the majority of the
population who are paying their $3000 per year to fund the current
electoral system. People have given up voting because they know the
fat cats have control of the politicians. After the majority of voters
in Arizona voted for public funding of campaigns, voter turnout
increased by 25%. See:
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #103 of 111: Nancy Watzman (nancywatzman) Thu 7 Oct 04 09:56
On the issue of trade, the Missouri Citizen Education Fund recently
did a study analyzing campaign contributions from companies outsourcing
jobs overseas from that state. The group found that campaign
contributions by CEOs of companies that were sending Missouri jobs
overseas contributed to Bush at a much greater rate (13-1) than they
had to Kerry, $132,375 to $16,000. The authors conclude that “this
group of executives are unified in their choice of a candidate whose
public policies will protect, or even promote, their practice of
offshoring jobs to low cost countries,” pointing out that Greg Mankiw,
a top Bush economic advisor, has stated that “Outsourcing is just
another way of
doing international trade. When a good or service is produced more
cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than to make or
provide it domestically.” (See the report at

In addition, David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, has
also written about top Bush donors outsourcing jobs
( A. Malachi
(“Mal”) Mixon III is a Bush ranger, and his company, Invacare, which
manufactures wheelchairs and other medical equipment has closed down
plants in Ohio and opened new ones in China. The company has also
opened a call-center in India. 

These are perfect examples of how the cronyism the current campaign
finance system promotes helps perpetuate particular policies. One can
argue of course that Bush is collecting contributions from these CEOs
simply because they agree with his trade policy, not because the
campaign money is convincing him to take a position that he otherwise
would not have taken. But, then again, the CEOs have the money to
cement this relationship. What about the outsourced workers? Corporate
interests outspend labor unions on campaign contributions 14 to 1. What
would the national debate about trade look like if all voters were on
an equal footing with candidates, in which their clout wasn’t measured
out in campaign dollars? 
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #104 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 10:56
To top it off, I understand that companies that move operations
offshore actually receive tax breaks for doing so. Is that correct,
Nancy or Micah, or anybody else with info on it?
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #105 of 111: Seahorses of the Liver (mnemonic) Thu 7 Oct 04 12:16

mercury writes:

'This so-called "clean money" talk
 is really an agenda for the leftwing of the Democrat party.'

I don't see how that is true, given that the Clean Money framework
is an opt-in framework. It's not compulsory.
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #106 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 13:27
> Aren't those Canadian drugs cheap because the government 
> subsidizes them? 

No, Canada doesn't subsidize them, but Canada is allowed to negotiate
with the drug companies for lowest price. The last Medicare bill
actually ***prohibits*** Medicare from negotiating for lower prices
with the drug companies. This was at the behest of Big Pharma, who gave
$49 million since 2000. 

That's democracy at work!
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #107 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 14:45
On that same subject (from www.WhiteHouseForSale,org):


Bush Profits from the Medicare Drug War

In the final push for Medicare prescription drug legislation, the
pharmaceutical industry, HMOs and related interests spent more money
and hired more lobbyists in 2003 than ever before, according to The
Medicare Drug War, a new report by Public Citizen. The pharmaceutical
and managed care industries spent a combined $141 million last year.
Drugmakers and HMOs hired 952 individual lobbyists in 2003 – nearly
half of whom had "revolving door" connections to Congress, the White
House or the executive branch.

Drug industry and HMO executives and lobbyists also rank among
President Bush’s elite fundraisers. Twenty-one executives and lobbyists
achieved "Ranger" or "Pioneer" status. These Rangers and Pioneers have
collected at least $3.4 million for Bush so far. In addition, two of
John Kerry’s biggest backers were lobbyists on the drug industry
payroll in 2003.

Learn more about The Medicare Drug War.  At

View a list of Rangers and Pioneers from the drug and managed care


---- I guess I could accept virtually any kind of bill signed into law
if I knew that cash wasn't changing hands behind the scenes. Health
care is just one of many areas of concern, and for those who have not
purchased the book yet, I recommend it highly (unless you have a weak
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #108 of 111: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Thu 7 Oct 04 15:30
The pharma example in <93> and <106> are indeed very good examples of
special-interest money and political results, but the underlying
economics are *much* more complex than they appear.  The ban on
importing from Canada (which, by the way, is not enforced against
individuals, and there is a lively cross-border trade) is indeed
protectionist, but the pharma companies actually have a plausible case,
which is that Canadian prices are only market prices in the context of
the Canadian system, where the single-payer systems have colluded to
create a monopsonic cartel of buyers which drove down the prices of
drugs.  That cartel exists only due to State action, and in a free 
market would probably not exist.  HOWEVER, the high prices of drugs in
the U.S. are based on (1) the patent system, and (2) the very high bar
presented by the FDA approval process, both of which are, themselves,
based in State action.  So it's a true mess.  
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #109 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Thu 7 Oct 04 16:12
Indeed the patent system is a culprit; it locks out generics for 20
years, but that's not all:

* Drug companies spend more money on advertising than they do on
research and development (R&D).

* One third of all new drug R&D is funded by the taxpayers through
grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), yet the patent
rights that result from this research do not remain with the taxpayers.

* The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable in the world, at
over 14% even after deducting its R&D and high television advertising

* Drugs that result from NIH funding are not licensed, but given to
the drug companies so they can patent them and lock out cheaper
generics. The patent holder then charges the public whatever the market
will bear, such prices having nothing to do with the cost to develop
or manufacture. As a result, critical drugs for seniors and the
seriously ill have the highest markup, and drugs that sell for pennies
in Africa by U.S. drug companies are sold for dollars in the U.S.. 

* The costly cancer drug Taxol and AZT (for AIDS) are two examples,
but there are hundreds more. The markup on these drugs is astronomical,
even though they were both developed with taxpayer funds. 

Frankly, it would be cheaper for the public to have all medical
research funded by the NIH and made available to all qualified
manufacturers, but that would mean increasing the control of government
to the dismay of the right wing. Ouch!
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #110 of 111: Jack E. Lohman (jlohman4cfr) Fri 8 Oct 04 04:59
How does political money affect the potential of domestic attacks?

One area most of us are concerned about is domestic security, and the
recent find (in a Middle East computer) of a dozen or so US school
addresses and building layouts is particularly troubling. Are we
prepared for a school takeover on US soil? What preventative measures
should we be taking (if the money were available)? What does all of
this have to do with campaign finance reform?

It is fact that Bush-Cheney received major cash injections by the NRA,
and it has been found in a terrorist manual the advice: “don’t smuggle
your guns, buy them in the US.” The recent intentional lapse of the
assault weapon ban is not what I would have hoped for (though I am
pro-gun, just not for AK-47s). 

I look at the depressed wages that have resulted both from outsourcing
and allowing illegal aliens into the US, the first being a significant
boon to corporate contributors and the latter a boon to Al Qaeda. Yes,
we catch some at the border but others get through (recent news
reports of the breakup of a smuggling ring in Michigan that netted
dozens of Middle Easterners is troubling). Border security is a joke,
and Bush is unconcerned. His contributors like it just as it is, thank

So now the real question: Why did President Bush authorize $500
billion to develop a widely-labeled ineffective national missile
defense system when the weapons of the next war are gong to enter the
US in a suitcase, or are already here?

The government is warning us to beware, not of missiles in the air but
of terrorists on the ground. Just as missile defense would not protect
our troops against terrorists in Iraq, it will not help us when al
Qaeda starts destroying our food resources, capturing schools, using
car bombs against US citizens on land, and firing rocket propelled
grenades at commercial planes in the air. If they don’t kill our
people, they’ll kill our economy. This is a new kind of war that
requires new thinking.

The point?  The $500 billion would be better spent strengthening our
borders, airports and shipping docks, and building a strong
intelligence system to head off domestic attacks. But that clearly
wouldn’t make happy the hundreds of defense contractors who contribute
over $20 million each year to the president and politicians who voted
for the missile defense system. 

This is a major diversion of much needed public resources, all for
financial/political gain. This $500 billion expenditure could have
waited a year or two, and under CM/CE it would have.
inkwell.vue.225 : Micah Sifry and Nancy Watzman, Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?
permalink #111 of 111: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 8 Oct 04 13:18
Stepping in with a big thanks to Micah, Nancy, and Mike for joining us 
here. Obviously there's still a lot of energy in the discussion, and 
everyone is welcome to continue, though today's the start of the next 
inkwell.vue discussion with Dan Gillmor. 

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