Sunday, July 22, 2012

The motives behind politics

I am currently taking a sociology course at my local community college. One of the most important parts of sociology is the two major theories behind it. The first is structural functionalism, that every decision has costs and benefits to society, and the second is conflict theory, that society is in constant battles for resources. I want to look at the major issues of today to look and see where the Democrats and Republicans get their motivations from.

My sources are: for the votes. for the lobbying, and news organizations, predominately NPR, BBC, Al Jazeera, and most importantly, PBS. I have chosen these four because I have observed they usually don't benefit just one side but give more balanced viewpoints and wider coverage than any other source.

First. The money. The motivation. According to the largest financers of political campaigns in order are Finance/Insurance/Real Estate, Health care, communication/electronics, energy (oil), labor, construction, agriculture, transportation, and military. Looking at where the money comes from I will look at what they will get out of the major political debates.

Finance/Insurance/Real Estate have a mix of interests. The real estate industry benefits from subsidies for housing (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and tax breaks for mortgages to encourage people to buy houses, not rent. Insurance has an interest in requiring people to get health insurance from them with no public option, and oppose all forms of universal health care which will shrink their business. Instead people are required to have insurance (which given the situation of money and media I think is the best available option for Americans. We spend far too much in the hospitals as a country for what we get.) Finance would be like banks and stock brockerages who do not want regulations and have collapsed the economy through their lack of responsability. They then get bailed out (what else are we going to do? Pay them unemployment and pay deposit insurance to all their depositors?) when they collapse the economy after lobbying to end government regulations and ruining the finances of real people.

The second would be health care. The largest are manufacturers of medicine, lobbying to get their drugs through the FDA before others. The American Medical Association is not included in the list on opensecrets.  This helps explain why universal health care has so few advocates in our government.

The third is Communications/Electronics. These are the people who support things like SOPA, PIPA, and other terrible things. They monopolize their respective markets and get the government to buy their goods. Others want to impact what regulations are passed that effect their business.

The fourth is energy. This is dominated by oil corporations fighting renewable energy and environmental regulations to protect their businesses at the cost of the country's economic dependence on foreign oil and a vicious cartel. They are almost entirely Republican financiers.

The fifth is composed of unions. These people fight for social programs, schools, or whatever else their industry is interested in. They are almost entirely Democratic financiers. An important note here is how unions are different from corporations, instead of being led by their leaders who are CEOs (like the rest of the lists here) the decisions are made by their members and their leaders are elected by the union members.

The sixth is made of construction, especially people who construct homes. These people donate across the board and are interested in keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac how they are.

The seventh is agribusiness, and these people are interested in keeping their subsidies from the Department of Agriculture and having input on what regulations are put on their businesses. They also oppose legal work visas for Mexicans to work on their farms because they would have to pay them minimum wage and work them no more than 40 hours per week.

The eighth is Transportation. These people are diverse. The people who run rail lines (Berkshire Hathaway, CSX, and others) are interested in keeping AMTRAK on their lines only, keeping the other smaller lines without AMTRAK trains. The autodealers are interested in keeping funding mass transit at bay, so that they can continue to sell far more cars than are needed. (Notice the clash between Berkshire Hathaway and National Autodealers Association) Others include Courier Services who have an interest in keeping their ability to ship packages and stay unregulated. Also some airlines who are interested in keeping the environmental regulations (which cost money) at an absolute minimum. American Trucking Associations is another one that is heavily interested in keeping freight trains at a bare minimum.

The ninth is Defense. These people are interested in the government buying their goods and expanding our military. It is already the largest military budget in the world and the companies want us to buy more of their goods. It makes them rich and takes up a quarter of total government expenditure (half of all discretionary spending). Our government has two types of spending, Mandatory (social security and medicare are the largest amounts here) and discretionary (almost everything else) and the department of defense takes up more than all other mandatory and our annual interest on our debt combined! Also, assuming that it would cost the Federal Government $80,000 to send one American to college for four years ($20,000 per year), if we took half the defense budget out we would still have the largest military budget in the world and could provide free college tuition to 35 million Americans with only half of our military budget. That includes tuition, books, fees, room and board, the whole college everything. We would then make far more in taxes because people would not be deducting their student loans from their income tax, which would more than balance out in the end.

Part 2: The Policies

The Republicans and Democrats agree on a number of issues, the housing market, transportation (although a growing number of Democrats favor mass transit), agriculture subsidies, bailing banks, and Israel. Pro-Israel PACs (according to opensecrets) give 2/3 of their money to Democrats and 1/3 of their money to Republicans, and bth parties support continuing to give them money every year for their military. Perhaps they don't need to give as much to the Republicans because of their evangelical wing? Most of these are not usually brought up. Looking at the policies, we can see how they benefit the big donaters to political campaigns, but the American people often do not benefit as much.

How do the American people benefit from deregulating banks that then collapse? How do the American people benefit from exporting weapons to Israel? How do the American people benefit from the housing market collapsing? How do the American people benefit from having education cut to make way for military? How do the American people benefit from the highest rates for health care in the world with quality that is not significantly better than our European peers, but in many measures is worse (according to the CIA World Factbook)? How do the American people benefit from Monsanto getting government subsidies by less competition? How do the American people benefit from oil companies getting fewer regulations and renewable energy getting stalled, now for over 30 years? How do the American people benefit from AT&T monitoring what we do on-line?

The answer to all of these questions is, no, we lose massively. Very few politicians speak out against these massive corporate powers. Someone to speak out on the issue would be to say "America is going to get renewable energy." (hurting the oil lobby, dropping energy prices for 310 million Americans) "We are going to increase food production to bring down food prices by ending government subsidies to agriculture and scaling back the Department of Agriculture." (hurting Monsanto and United Fruit, now known as Chiquita, dropping food prices for 310 million Americans) "We are going to protect the access to all websites in America and reject pay per view for different websites as proposed in SOPA." (not giving Comcast more money, protecting access to the full internet for 310 million Americans) "We are going to outlaw dangerous lending practices." (Ending short-term gains for large banking institutions and stabilizing the economy for 310 million Americans) "We are going to have universal health care." (Hurting the never ending flow of cash to the insurance industry and decreasing health care costs for 310 million Americans) Behind all of this Americans don't get enough opportunities through education through lack of funding (despite having mostly excellent teachers) and don't cover issues like economics and politics that means Americans don't realize where the corruption actually is.

If someone said this, that person would be hated by those companies. Those people are President Barack Obama, Future Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Barney Frank, Senator Al Franken, Representative Dennis Kucinich, and these are the people who get the most hatred from right-wing media. We have not had a President who is so absolutely against these corporate interests since President Carter left the White House and he has received more than his fair share of hatred from the right wing. That is why FOX News and Romney's company Bain Capital's asset Clear Channel (which broadcasts Rush Limbaugh and other far-right pundits) are attacking President Obama. He is a threat to the massive lobbyists who control our government through campaign spending. He is the 99%, he just needs to say it. He was born to a mother from a poor (yet educated) farming family from Kansas and an immigrant father, what origin could be more humble than that? Because he is a threat to these massive lobbyists (especially the insurance industry) they have stepped up their spending, and their media doesn't represent what he really says because if the majority of people in the Deep South realized just how much they would benefit from his policies, he would win 40-50 states come November. This is why they are making voter ID which the NAACP, ACLU, SPLC, and other defenders of our freedom oppose. He is shaking up the status quo as much as he can, and he needs our help to help us. We need a Democratic Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw bribery (aka lobbying) and laws to make it punished severely. The Constitutional Amendment is needed so the Courts can't overturn the regulations again. If Mitt Romney is elected this will not happen, if Obama is kept there is a chance that we could see a massive decrease in corruption if he has a Congress that will work with him and pass these reforms!

They claim that he wants to end the American way of life, and there is some truth for this because he wants to change the system where everything our freedom is supposedly based on is a good that is provided by one of the major lobbying industries (namely own a house and own a car per person, look at the list of lobbyists and there is a clear correlation) and put less restrictions on what we can do, say, or protest, and provide every American with health care, college, and well funded public schools but he can't do that because Congress opposes everything he says, even routine legislation! He wants to change our country the same way Scandinavia's governments did when they became first-world democracies! On top of this most Americans don't hear what the President actually says and this is the big problem because what they think of him is what they are told by the media which is owned by the people who corrupt our system. Why else are there Exxon Mobil commercials on the evening news? If he is reelected and Congress is a Democratic majority than we could see universal health care, affordable college, and a growing economy with less corruption in Congress. If Mitt Romney wins, well, that's not possible because he changes everything he says on a frequent basis, whatever the lobbyists want him to say. If the American people vote for Obama and support him with a Democratic-controlled Congress (which is possible if people in the South start to vote) than there will be big changes, just like our greatest generation did and our standard of living will improve. I would love for the American way of life to be less dependent on the products of the same people who lobby our government.

This is why I am voting OBAMA 2012.

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