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"Let's Call Bribery BRIBERY"

     The 2000 election campaign started many months ago, and most
of us have been trying to ignore it, but such sensible behavior
is now no longer possible.  So here's what one long-memory
observer thinks about it.
     The media have already chosen "front-runners" in both
parties, even though a sum-total of zero delegates to the
nominating conventions have already been elected.  The selections
were made on the basis of the amounts of money raised by each
candidate.  Add up the millions of dollars, not the votes [!],
and the one with the most dollars wins.  
     The media also keep close track of the "dark horses" in each
party, and help us keep track of them too, because they don't
want us to lose interest altogether.
     Several friends and I have made a resolution.  We wish we
were a nation-wide, grass-roots movement, but we aren't yet. 
Doris Haddock, known also as Granny D, age 89, may spark a
movement.  Beginning on January 1, 1999, she set out from the
Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA, to walk the entire 3000-plus
miles to the nation's capital, to call attention to the need for
"campaign finance reform."  Her way of stating what's the matter
in our country is to label as falsehoods two widely-believed
propositions -- [1] that money is speech [as in "free speech"],
and [2] that corporations are people [who do not need to be
responsible for their actions].  In mid-November she had already
walked to central Ohio.  Ralph Nader and his Public Citizen
meanwhile keep hammering away at trying to get the already bribed
Congress to reform itself.
     Our local resolution could add to these efforts, or at least
sharpen the rhetoric.  It is as follows:  All requests for
political contributions shall be returned, in the sender's own
prepaid envelope, if possible, with this explanation:
     "I will not be making any more political contributions. 
They constitute bribery, and even though that is no longer, or
not yet, against the law, it should be.  Meanwhile, it is futile
for me to try to participate.  I cannot give hundreds of millions
of dollars, as the giant corporations do.  I cannot hope to have
any effect at all on policy or your votes on issues.  You will do
what the corporations and their lobbyists dictate anyway.  You
would be a fool not to, and they would be foolish to give you all
that money if it had no influence on your decisions.
     "I have come to believe that giving or receiving so-called
'campaign contributions' should be treated as bribery and
severely punished.
     "I am perfectly aware of the fact that what I think is of no
interest to you, or any other politician, so I'll keep my money,
if not my thoughts, to myself."
     The most blatant use of "campaign contributions" locally is
the attempt of lobbyists for the gambling interests to give large
sums of money to the state legislators who serve on the committee
which is charged with evaluating the newly negotiated compacts
with the native American tribes who have casinos operating.  One
legislator wrote to his fellow committee-members, indicating that
it might "look bad," if they accepted that money.  
     Will Rogers, in the 1920s, said we have the best government
money can buy.  Mark Twain, before that, said that the US
Congress was the only distinctly native American criminal class.
One could wonder why he didn't include members of local state
     "When the Revolution makes me dictator..." was a phrase
George Bernard Shaw used to preface his radical ideas and
propositions, and I use it, too, now.  When the Revolution makes
me dictator, bribery shall be treated as though it were BRIBERY. 
My regime will decree as plainly as possible, the following: 
     "Any office-holder, or candidate for public office, caught
taking a gift of any kind or size whatsoever shall be severely
punished, by fine and long imprisonment, and disqualified from
holding any future public office at any level for life plus one
hundred years.  Persons attempting to give any gift of any kind
or size to anyone holding political office or running for
political office, at any level, shall also be severely punished,
by fine and long imprisonment.
     "All candidates and future candidates need to collect their
Father's Day, or Mother's Day, gifts in advance, or forego them
altogether.  Gift giving to office holders shall be stopped,
utterly.  Anyone caught accepting a gift, or offering one, shall
be severely punished, even if the punishment disrupts family life
in strange new ways."

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Copyright © 2000 Harry Willson

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