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Money, Politics, and Your Local Leaders

Speaking with Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL this week, former Senator Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC), author of MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK, described one of his objections to the way Congress operates:

“All the time is fundraisers. All the time is is money, money, money, money... [Former Senator] Dick Russell of Georgia says, ‘Now a senator is given a six year term rather than a two year term. He's given six years: the first two years to be a statesman, then the second two years to be a politician, [and] his last two years a demagogue.’ We use all six years to raise money. That's why I wrote the book, to try to get the government off its fanny and cut out all the politics and let's work for the country for a change.”

What do you think?

Does Hollings’ quote describe your Senators and Congressman? Who are your elected officials and what specific examples led you to your answer?


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It seems to me that we vote our congressmen into office. They go to Washington. Their masters (“special interests”) tell them what to do and they do it. If what they do creates a national catastrophe they shift into the “run interference mode” (protect their masters).

To run for Congress one must have a lot of money. The “special interests” raise that money. No special interest to raise money - no political campaign. Once in office the special interests must be serviced (accommodated) because they are out raising money for the next campaign.

The following is an example what Washington has evolved to.

We the American people may end up with universal health care coverage on par with the other developed countries. If it happens, it will be because special interests not related to the health care industry (agriculture, energy, Wall Street… etc) are pushing it.

I guess the time for strict public financing of federal campaigns has come.

Found my written but unposted comment: I think he is exactly right, it has been turned into a business, not much unlike any other these days. It began with the party of Jefferson and Jackson and has been well documented. None of the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson, would have approved of this kind of self-promotion and office-seeking, much less the outright corruption. And he is exactly right about tariffs and the effect of easy money on the productive capacity of this country, as well as about McCain.

I agreed with everything Sen Hollings said, but haven't posted until now because the blog was down all that weekend. And as I recall, he said it while he was in office, too.

"Hollings served in the U.S. Senate from 1966 until his retirement in January 2005."

Why is this cowardly hypocrite, Hollings, complaining about the government he created? He didn't write this book in office, he didn't shout from capital hill about these problems, he didn't reject the money when it was coming to him.

Now, Moyers is letting him make money off a book that this cowardly old hypocrite claims will fix such problems. Perhaps old age, lack of work, and his impending death has helped him resolve his values, and finally realize that some things are more valuable than money.

So refreshing to get this kind of blunt, no-holds-barred honesty from a politician, albeit a former one.

Bill Moyers Staff! Check out Stanford U's Lawrence Lessig's "Change Congress" program.

David Eddy often posts, "Money is the root of all evil." I tend to think of fundraising as a greater evil in itself, for not only does it waste the citizen's time and resources, but it is a process that occupies the mind (like troops in Iraq). How in Hell do we become entangled in the elite's trap of carrying a rock around a tree for a dollar a lap !?!?
Our labor is the origin of all wealth and the beneficiaries at the top only parasites.

I believe it was Ted Michael Morgan who claimed himself a Libertarian Socialist on this blog and was rebuffed that such was impossible. I am a libertarian in that I believe the individual citizen should be self-governing to the extent possible. But the fact is people are social beings for better or worse. Present threats (diminishing freedom, poor economy, ecological degradation) dictate some combinations and cooperation. Therefore I am also a socialist in that I believe good behavior can be engineered. Just the opposite is occurring as the panicked wealthy combine and conspire for the general demise. Maybe power has dictated a S&M value system, but we have to transcend it for humanity to survive upon this planet. Tell me how?
(Hint: Fritz Hollings can't. He still lives in a past of ESSO gas and Firestone tires on a MacAddam lane, a colored boy to hold his super-sized bumpershoot. Quit looking backward, Hostage Bill.)

The talk is always about raising money. I would be interested to see an accounting of how it is spent. Particularly the proportion spent on access to the "public airways". My airways.

I'm wondering why Senator Hollings' is on the reform bandwagon now and not while as a senator. Is it for real reform or for him to sell more books? He said it himself, "All the time is is money, money, money, money..." Shame on Bill Moyers for providing free advertising. Hollings' is not telling us anything we did not already know.

All my Congresscritters ask me for money, even when re-election is years away. It's just a fact of life these days. As long as the situation is this corrupt, can we put together Internet-based "bundling" sites so coalitions of citizens of modest means can at least have a chance to outbid the wealthy?

Senator Hollings’ reliance on Dick Russell’s view of the Senate and Senators is correct except for one thing. Now, while they are raising money, money, money – they consider themselves demagogues at the outset of their tenure. They no longer wait until the last two years of their six years. To the American public, Congress is like the weather. We bemoan it, we bellyache about it, we criticize it and yet, we do nothing about it. The weather we can’t change. Congress, we can.

As for change, there is an inherent problem. While we are disgusted with Congress as a whole, it’s everyone else’s Representative or Senators that receives our ire. It’s rarely if ever our own. We are resigned to admit that our Representative or Senators aren’t really that bad. Thus, if everyone, or most everyone, is resigned to the status quo at home and declines to make a change in their own Representatives and Senators, nothing changes and we are stuck with the problem we have created and allowed to exist.

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