The Difference Between A Campaign Contribution & A Bribe? Five Lousy Syllables!


We've often spoken to the issue of the bribery that masquerades as "campaign contributions" and "soft money contributions" and how these disgusting practices leave the American people locked out of the nation's once vaunted "democratic" process. As any sensible and thinking person would agree, removing this outright bribery from our democratic system is without exception the only way to return our government back to the citizens of this nation. Nevertheless, there is little, if any, movement to reform this system within the American voting public.

Bribes funneled through the Republican National Committees have come from, generally, telecommunications, petroleum, chemical, financial and HMO corporations. AT&T topped all "donors" by giving over $527,000. Close behind is American Financial Group, at $500,000; Philip Morris Cos. Inc. at $378, 467; United Parcel Services (UPS) at $363,559 and Kojaian management Corp. at $300,000. Other's involved in bribing the Republican Party include such luminaries as the NRA (surprise, surprise), Federal Express Corp., Archer Daniels Midland Corp., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., K-Mart, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo., PG&E, Amway and US Airways.

The Democrats receive their bribes mostly from labor unions, attorneys, entertainment and communication corporations. The Communications Workers of America led all others in paying "tribute" to the tune of $525,000 (do you think there might be some relation to AT&T's bribery to the Republicans?). Other purchasers of the Democratic Party are the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees at $460,000; Walter Shorenstein, Chairman, Shorenstein Co. to the tune of just over $315,000; Williams Bailey Law Firm LLP at exactly $315,000 and (playing both sides against the middle) AT&T at $305, 350. Other "contributors" include Mirage Resorts, Goldman Sachs, DreamWorks SKG, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (to which this author belongs), Federal Express, Microsoft (another equal opportunity buyer), Gail Zappa (President, Intercontinental Absurdities Ltd.) and International Longshoremen's Assoc.

In all, those who "donated" $100,000 or more to the Republican Party, just between Jan 1 through June 30, 1999, in soft money totaled over $10,773,000. The Democrats have a slight lead, though, in that their owners have given over $11,000,000 in soft money. George W. Bush's once secretive "Pioneers" have added nearly another million in soft money bribes.

In all, these groups have the firmest hold on their property in government through the largest bribes: telecommunications, securities & investments, insurance, Real Estate, transportation, lawyers and lobbyists, labor unions, pharmaceutical and medical supplies, oil & gas and entertainment & media. Now, sit back and think about whatever issue is important to and yours. Now look at the list above and see why you have no say in the solutions offered to that issue.

Let's look a bit closer at what these industries and groups expect to receive for their bribes. First, AT&T merged with the second largest cable company in the nation, TCI Communications, and signed a leasing deal with the largest cable company, Time Warner, which created a near monopoly for AT&T in high speed Internet access through its cable systems. A pending bill would force AT&T to open those lines for Internet providers but, as we can see, the future of that bill really isn't in much doubt. As the largest soft money "contributor" to the Republicans and the fifth largest owner of the Democrats, the possibility of any controlling legislation is pretty dubious.

Anyone with any hopes for an intelligent and thoughtful solution to the many HMO issues can be fairly certain that they will continue to wait for that solution for years to come. With the insurance and health industries paying their Republican employees over $2, 500,000 in soft money and Democrats "earning" $1,747,737 from their owners, trial lawyers, compromise isn't even a risk. The rights of patients to sue their health providers faces the Democrats claiming that the Republicans protect big insurance companies instead of the patients and the Republicans claiming that the Democrats protect the trial lawyers who want to target the "deep pockets" of insurance companies.

The banking, the security and investment, and the insurance corporations are in the process of returning America to the wonderful days leading up to the Great Depression. They want to combine their services and eventually simply merge into two or three massive financial giants which will control the vast majority of insurance, banking, lending and investing for America's consumers. One point of contention that stands only slightly in the way of this horror is the demand by consumer groups that these behemoths be legally required to protect private customer information. The latest version of that protection, however, falls far short of protecting anything but the industry's profits in that it will only require financial services to give customers the right to opt out of information sharing but doesn't require the industry to even get that permission, first. Unless the customer demands that their rights be served, in other words, the industry can simply ignore those rights until the individual comes to them and asks. Fairness and intelligent policies takes another huge set back.

The transportation industry is using its power to get their governmental employees to behave, as well. When millions of airline commuters began demanding action against the many delays and uncomfortable seats and the uncaring responses from the industry, several bills were introduced to provide passengers with a "bill of rights". The airline industry, instead of spending money to repair the problems and their industry's reputation, lobbied their employees in Congress and then spent over $1,000,000 in bribes to fight any needed regulations.

Even corporations like UPS and FedEx have been greasing the palms of their employees in government, whining that the regulation and oversight of the US Postal service should be removed and that they expect the same "special treatment" that the US Postal Service enjoys should be theirs, as well. To insure that they can maintain their grip on their employees in Congress, UPS and FedEx sent $701,809 in bribes to their servants in government in just the first six months of 1999.

Finally, the pharmaceutical industry has doubled the amount of bribery they offered in 1995 in hopes of negatively affecting the President's plan to add prescription drugs to Medicare benefits. The industry fears that the plan would lead to price controls on their products, ignoring the record profits they have enjoyed the last two decades due to the industry policy of pricing their products as high as the insurance industry will stand for. As the Republicans still control Congress for this year, you can rest assured that no real action will occur although an awful lot of hot air will be produced in pretending to care about real Americans and their problems.

Perhaps if some of this information was available to that small portion of the voting public who still retain the skill of using their minds for something other than a repository for TV listings, the urgency of the need for reform might make itself evident. I strongly urge all of my readers to pass along the preceding facts to their family and friends and to write to your "representatives" and local newspapers in order to get some progress towards regaining our democratic process. Only when our voices combine in a chorus of demands to give our government back to us will any gains be seen. Both parties are quite content to maintain the current system as they benefit both politically and in their personal finances as long as we, the actual human beings who they were supposed to be serving, allow it. That should come to a sudden and neck breaking halt immediately.

Remember, as someone once said, the only difference between bribes and campaign contributions is five lousy syllables.(1 - 10)

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Copyright 12/1/99