Democrats & Liberals Archives

Money = Free Speech: Invitation to Corruption

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 ruled that you cannot limit spending for political candidates because by limiting the spending of money you are limiting the exercise of free speech. The result has been devastating. Politics is awash with money and those with the most money have the most free speech, and the most “access” to political officials. This “access” enables money to “talk,” and what it tells legislators and executives is “take care of me.” And officials “listen.”

I believe that the ruling that money = free speech is cause number one for the intolerable corruption we now have in our political life. We have more lobbyists than ever before taking officeholders to lunch and explaining where they stand on a given measure. No need to make deals because everyone knows how much money "access" is worth.

We have PACs and campaign money, both hard and soft. We have fund raisers. Did you ever wonder why a guy would attend a fund raiser and pay thousands of dollars for a rubber-chicken dinner? He loves the candidate? He is an idealist? There must be another reason: "access," of course.

Whenever 2 (or more) candidates challenge each other for political office, the first thing the media reports is how much money each candidate has and how much more each is likely to get. The assumption is: candidates with the most money are most likely to win. You may put it differently: donors with the most money are most likely to win. Sure, I know, all donors win is "access."

Money is not free speech; money provides "access," a dialogue for promoting corruption.

Conservatives love the current system for a simple reason: These are the guys with the money. If you have it use it. What do they use it for? As you can see by checking all the laws that were passed by Congress this session, they support the needs of Big Business. Pretty neat, wouldn't you say?

The role of money in politics has gotten so bad, that Democrats, who are supposed to represent the little guy, the one without money, are getting money from big donors, as well. This explains why they vote more often in favor of big-money interests than they used to.

It also explains why big-money-dependent Democrats are often furious with Howard Dean, who is trying his level best to steer Democratic candidates away from big-money-donors and into the hands of the so-called netroots, who are decidedly non-rich.

If establishment Democrats win this battle, it means that corruption will get worse and worse. There will be nobody around to stop the buying of "access." This is why I root for Howard Dean. This is why all of us should root for Howard Dean.

There's a better way to cut down political corruption caused by the money=free-speech ruling: Public financing of campaigns. The idea is to reduce the influence of money. In this system, when a candidate obtains a lot of money, the government gives his rival enough money to level the playing field. Already, public financing systems are in place in Arizona, Maine, Connecticut, Portland, Or. and Albuquerque, N.M.

Such a clean-money-system initiative has qualified for the November, 2006 ballot in California. If you are a Californian, check it out.

If you are a citizen of another state, see what you can do to reduce political corruption by bringing a clean-money system to your state.

Posted by Paul Siegel at July 7, 2006 6:37 PM
Comments
Comment #165559

Of course money buys power. But only among those already in office. For those not yet in office power lies in votes. Unfortunately, money and thus commercials, not ideas buy votes. It is thus the duty of voters to see past election ads and make intelligent, informed votes. When this is achieved, we will once again have a government “by the people, for the people, of the people.” Here’s an idea: lets throw every incumbent out of office in the next election. What kind of a sign would that send to our officials?

Posted by: Silima at July 7, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #165568
What kind of a sign would that send to our officials?That it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it, people won’t listen?

Oh, except for those who get elected, they’ll think that they are charged with doing what they ran on, regardless if you agree with it or not, and then try to do that because they only have X number of years…

Personally, I think giving actual thought and consideration before pulling the lever is the best approach.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 7, 2006 7:19 PM
Comment #165579

Paul

A good post and a topic that demands some discussion. More and more it seems as though public office is becoming the domain of the rich. Whomever spends the most and runs the most pervasive campaign wins. I wonder how much a candidate needs to outspend an opponent in order to virtually guarantee victory. Have there been any studies done on this? I agree with Rhinehold that thought and consideration should be used before voting, but fear that too many people fall for the Madison Avenue approach to listening to the “talk” instead of looking at the actual “walk” of a candidate. This has created such an unlevel playing field that I would certainly be in favor of trying some of the ideas you suggest.

Posted by: mark at July 7, 2006 7:56 PM
Comment #165592

If money is indeed speech;

Money talks, but lots of money screams.

It sucks that the little guy’s (that’s us) voice gets drowned out in the cacophony of donations from lobbyists and corporations (that would be them).

Posted by: Rocky at July 7, 2006 8:14 PM
Comment #165611


Rocky: There are many many more of us little guys than there big guys. Us little guys have the power to change everything. The big guys spend money telling us little guys all the wonderful things they are going to do for us and we fall for it every time. After the election they screw us and we take it until the next election when we fall for the promises again. On and on it seems to go.

Posted by: jlw at July 7, 2006 8:49 PM
Comment #165612

As the old saying goes Money talks, bs walks.
It is not the average person who gets elected, but those with money either their own, or someone backing them. Money well spent if you want access to the government.

You get what you pay for..

Posted by: KT at July 7, 2006 8:50 PM
Comment #165624

It shouldn’t take tons of money to get elected to office.
But because it does, it cancels out the possibility that somewhere in that 95% of us that don’t have the money to run, there may be ideas worth hearing.

That is a particularly sad thought.

Posted by: Rocky at July 7, 2006 9:06 PM
Comment #165625

Rocky,jlw
So how do we get the “little guy” to look past the slick advertising, the constant pounding, and consider what the candidate is really about. In Michigan the republican candidate for governor is the heir to the Amway fortune and has already spent over seven million dollars and is just getting started. You can’t watch the morning news without seeing his commercials several times or listen to the radio without hearing him. He is brainwashing the voters with his half truths and exaggerations and getting away with it because Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm has to save the money she has raised until the “normal” campaign period begins. Chances are it will be to late and we will will have another boughten election!

Posted by: mark at July 7, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #165634

Paul, yep! This court decision is the root of all evil that will continue to grow like a cancer upon our political system and government.

What the S.C. failed to recognize is, if money is free speech, then equal money is equal free speech. Hence, no donor should be allowed to contribute more than a minimum amount which can be afforded by the poor in this country. That would amount to equal free speech.

Instead what the court set up is the following. Money = free speech, but, the wealthy may speak for hours, days, months and years with politicians over dinner, golf trips and foreign trip excursions and during campaigns, but, the poor are limited to a 39 cent postage stamp on a letter that may or may not be read by their politician.

Yep, free speech, but, not equal free speech. Some are more equal than others, and some are more free than others to bend the politician’s ear.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 7, 2006 9:37 PM
Comment #165643

Paul and all: I do live in California. I just read the summary of the proposed initiative. Most likely I will vote against it but it will not pass anyway. It shouldn’t. Business interest will blanket the airways with negative adds over this one. They will talk about loseing jobs to fund candidates like David Duke or that hairbrained hooker that ran for governor.Puts politicians on welfare blah,blah.Case closed.
There are other fundemental flaws. It contains no restrictions on the use of personal wealth. I am all to aware that this is an effort to stay within the constitution as defined by the Supreme court. It also makes it largely pointless. It gives the personally wealthy a leg up,not that they do not have one now. How could the government ever match the amount of money Swartsenegger can throw in to a campaign without closing schools or prisons etc. The personal wealth immunity also allows the same or more opportunitiy for corruption. Say I want to influence a candidate. I sell him some land . A month later I buy it back for more. I’ve got influence,access. Theres a thousand such scams to get around it.
Another objection I have,the clincher for me, is that it restricts union money. There is a mis-understanding about how union pacs work. They take a small contributions from our dues for political action. If I do not like it I can refuse to contribute. Usually I agree with what and who they are supporting.My point is these are small contributions from many working people. Unions learned long ago that by combining these contributions in to a big pile they speak louder.It is clean money.That is exactly what Dean is trying to do. We can never match business but it gets us in the room. This pisses the big boys off no end and in California they try some scam initiative to stop it every couple of years. We have managed to beat them back every time so far. This may indeed be just another such attemptwith a new tactic. I will look more into who supports it . Who paid the signature gatherers for instance?

Posted by: BillS at July 7, 2006 10:14 PM
Comment #165645

Don’t confuse a correlation with cause. Public financing will only advantage the incumbent. besides, to see money as a cause is to say that the voter has been bought not convinced in regards to his vote.

Posted by: The Griper at July 7, 2006 10:16 PM
Comment #165671

Mark,

Regarding the Amway dude in Michigan, this is something I don’t understand about politics. The average voter doesn’t like the idea of rich people “buying” elections, right? (Believe me - I live in NJ and constantly hear people whine about how much Corzine spends on elections). So why can’t Governor Granholm put out a few ads saying, “look, this DeVos guy is all over your TV day and night insulting me. Why? Because he inherited a huge amount of money and has decided to spend his money by trying to buy your vote. Dick DeVos must think the great people of Michigan are pretty stupid if he thinks we’re dumb enough to let him buy our votes.” Or something to that effect. In other words, make his spending on campaign ads an actual issue. Ask voters — can we trust this rich guy?

Posted by: Scott at July 7, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #165674

Paul,

What you put forward is basically a false analogy. Money does not equal corruption.

The very idea that public financing creates ‘clean’ money in elections is false on it’s face. If free speech can be as highly regulated as you would like it to be in elections why not all free speech?

Posted by: esimonson at July 7, 2006 11:54 PM
Comment #165678

As lame as this might seem, I would hope that at least part of the answer is convincing the poor that their vote really does count. I’ve lived my entire life in Nebraska and Kansas which are both predominately Republican and yet both states have had Democratic Governors, etc.

Party politics aside I’ve heard a gazillion times from my fellows that their vote doesn’t really count. Well, I believe every vote counts even if it doesn’t bring about the result you’d prefer.

When we talk about financing I can’t help but think of “supply & demand”. How many out there support “pork”? What if it’s your “pork”?

There was recently an article in the Wichita Eagle: “PORK-BARREL SPENDING”
“Federal fight may slow city projects”
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/state/14962764.htm?source=rss&channel=kansas_state

So, is it only pork if it’s not your pork?

Are improper donations only improper if they don’t represent “your” party?

I saw a discussion recently in the “green” column that suggested we need a new “declaration of independence”. I think we just need one set of rules that applies to everyone.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at July 8, 2006 12:02 AM
Comment #165680

another thing to remember. money cannot corrupt, only greed of money corrupts. thus if a politician has been corrupted it is because we, the voter, have elected a greedy politician in the first place.

besides even if you took all money out of elections those who seek access will only find another way to do it. and it won’t change a thing other than result in another form of government which will be used abusively by the powerful.

Posted by: The Griper at July 8, 2006 12:09 AM
Comment #165684

KansasDem,

i agree with you in regards to convincing people that their vote counts. for by use of the democratic process we declare it. just because you may vote for the losing side does not mean that your vote did not count. it is the fact that recognition of the losing side that makes our form of government work. without that recognition we declare a dictatorship. for only a dictator has no opposition.

Posted by: The Griper at July 8, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #165685

Paul,

Great article. The Griper does have a point that the rich and powerful will probably find another way to manipulate the system. But their fall back method will probably not be quite as efficient and will at least give the common man a chance to get get a fair break. We do need to make it so easy for the rich and powerful to manipulate the system and this system is easy for them.

Posted by: Ray Guest at July 8, 2006 12:29 AM
Comment #165689


The Griper: Is there really any difference between being bought and being convinced. Take the Christian right, they are convinced that the republicans are going to deliver them from evil and give them their rightful place in the society. How have the republicans delivered. They have delivered for their true constituents time after time to the detriment of many of the Christians who are low income workers. In the upcoming election they will blame their inability to deliver on the democrats except for the two S.C. justices ( we just need 1 more ) and they will bring out their big argument that tax breaks for the rich and give aways to the corporations are good for everybody (just wait, it will come trickling down when if fact it is trickling up). The Christians will come out in droves to vote for them and good Christian congressmen will continue to line their pockets with bribe money and the people will continue to get robbed.

If public financing is done right and on a national level, it will work without advantaging the incumbent. It will have to involve more than just public financing though. There will have to be free air time (the public owns the airways) with limitations. There will have to be an end to gerrymandering and there may have to be two primaries rather than one to weed out the field for the general election. Most importantly, we have to have education and truth. Any candidate that distorts an opponents record,lies about an opponent or has a third party like move on .org or the swift boaters do it on their behalf should be immediately eliminated.

Posted by: jlw at July 8, 2006 12:44 AM
Comment #165691

I throw this out every once in awhile looking for thoughts.
Raise everybodies taxes 100-200$ or so. Give a tax credit of the same amount to everybody that votes. Use the money from those that do not vote to publically fund campaigns less cost for providing proofs etc. This could be done on a state by state basis. If one state did it many others would follow swiftly. I suspect their would be a re-birth of democracy.

Posted by: BillS at July 8, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #165696

The Greed and Corruption in D.C. could be ended in two election cycles if voters simply voted out the incumbents and demanded their replacements either get rid of corrupt system or be next in line for being voted out.

The concept is really that simple. Voters only need to make their vote reflect the demand for an end to the corrupt money system of buying legislation with campaign money and donations. All incumbents support that corrupt system, because all depend on it for reelection. Voters have the power to force them to kick the addiction by guaranteeing the addicted never get reelected.

How do you know if they are addicted. Look at how they vote on reforming the system to be clean, honest, equal, transparent and fair. Can’t find a politician with that voting record? Kinda makes my point, doesn’t it?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2006 1:27 AM
Comment #165699

I was just going to call it a night and did a quick scan of the news headlines.

Money influencing politics?
Secret Service reveals more Abramoff visits

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060708/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_abramoff_2

I don’t know.
KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at July 8, 2006 1:54 AM
Comment #165700

David Remer: A politician with that voting record. Sheila Kuel,a California state senator has pending legislation that is the same as the Ca. initiative Paul mentioned. That was a quick look. There is more. Fiengold perhaps meets your specs?

Posted by: BillS at July 8, 2006 1:55 AM
Comment #165703

No question that money = political power. My question is that if you limit money that goes directly to the candidates or parties what happens if for example entirely on its own inititive a union runs a series of ads around election time favoring a specific topic that their candidate of choice happens to be a big proponent of. Is that an illegal campaign contribution or is it simply free speech?

Posted by: Carnak at July 8, 2006 2:17 AM
Comment #165709

BillS,
what you were discussing is a poll tax when talking of taxing everyone $100 - $200 and that has been outlawed for a long time now. besides it would be hurting the very ones you wish to empower, the little guy. in order to get a refund would require that there be some way to ascertain that someone voted first. but another thing is that before you voted you’d have to show that you paid the tax. what about the little guy who pays taxes but cannot afford any extra taxes or is paying too much already? or what about those on a fixed income and do not pay taxes?

Posted by: The Griper at July 8, 2006 4:35 AM
Comment #165712

jls,

free air time for politicians has already been tried. as for gerrymandering you no longer are talking about the national level but the state level. determining districting is a state right. and to try to address that might require a constitutional amendment.

as for eliminating candidates for distortion or lies then you are talking 1st amendment rights again. and political speech has always been given the greatest of leeway. though i might agree with you on principle or ethical reasons. but isn’t eliminating candidates the idea behind the people voting? if they choose to vote in a candidate who does distort or lie, isn’t that their perogative?

what i am seeing being advocated here in this thread is political socialism. is that the ultimate goal?

Posted by: The Griper at July 8, 2006 4:56 AM
Comment #165713

Bill S., Feingold is my choice amongst potential candidates in 2008, at this time. There are exceptions. They don’t make the rule. Also, be careful of election year promises, or token gestures in Congress which have no hope of passing. It’s called political cover for noble appearances.

The root of the problem is the system of lobbying, campaign finance, and donor access to politicians which the vast majority of incumbents maintain. In other words, the root of the problem is incumbents. They have the system just they way they want it.

The system is governed by laws, and the laws were made and are maintained by the incumbents and Republocrat partnership in the FEC, FCC, and a host of other entities in which the Dinosaur Parties collaborate to maintain the system just as it is. Sen. McCain tried bucking the system. His party damn near threw his ass out, and did begin to brand him a traitor to the party.

That is how the system is maintained corrupt, lucrative, and beneficial to incumbents. Politicians won’t change it, unless voters begin dumping the incumbents in droves. If they do, politicians will have a real world motivation to reform the system - getting reelected.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2006 5:02 AM
Comment #165716

David,

i agree wholeheartedly with your voter/incumbent solution. now, how do we convince the voter of this? if somehow term limits could be enacted that might help. the big problem is that politicians make a career out of office holding. very few are Geo. Washington who stepped down voluntarily.

one incentive might be to eliminate a lot of the benefits of being a office holder like retirement benefits.

Posted by: The Griper at July 8, 2006 5:48 AM
Comment #165721

the Griper, the problem with any legislated solutions is, incumbent politicians would have to vote for them. And they won’t - unless voters crank up the heat so hot they have no choice. In other words, they won’t until their reelection rate drops from an average of 94% to 60% or so.

Hence the hope for any real reform has to come from voters rejecting the system and status quo in holesale fashion. How does one contribute to making that happen? Vote Out Incumbents Democracy”, or similar organizations working to spread the word that this is what is needed and showing how no other course of action can hope to succeed.

Word of mouth, word of blog, word of media. That is what has to take place. So spread the word, and donate or become a paid member of one of those organizations to help fund their growth and outreach programs. Speech is still relatively free, but mass media communications are very expensive. Get behind one of these organizations and support them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2006 6:44 AM
Comment #165728

David,

i sat here grinning at the legislative ideas after i posted because i saw the futility of it just as you did but i was thinking behind my posting as usual.

the next problem i saw also is the idea of how do we get a democrat voter not to vote for a democrat incumbent when his only real other choice is a republican or visa versa. as long as we have these two powerful political parties our solution will not solve it. look at the problems that the other political parties in this country have encountered because of the domination.

Posted by: The Griper at July 8, 2006 8:11 AM
Comment #165737

BillS,

“I throw this out every once in awhile looking for thoughts.
Raise everybodies taxes 100-200$ or so. Give a tax credit of the same amount to everybody that votes. Use the money from those that do not vote to publically fund campaigns less cost for providing proofs etc. This could be done on a state by state basis. If one state did it many others would follow swiftly. I suspect their would be a re-birth of democracy.

Posted by: BillS at July 8, 2006 01:00 AM

I think this would be a terrible idea. besides being illegal, I don’t want everyone to vote. I know that may sound bad on the surface, but I want people to vote who are informed and care enough about our country to make a good choice, not just so they can get a tax deduction. That is the main problem I have with “get out the vote ” campaigns.

Posted by: Tom D. at July 8, 2006 8:59 AM
Comment #165741

Paul,

I used to support campaign finance reformed, but after a lot of thought I have realized the following:

1) Yes, money is corrupting our elections, BUT

2) there is absolutely no way to get rid of it without severely abridging our constitutional rights.

The obvious Achilles Heel to any attempt to clean up our elections is third party financing. Some group of people decides that candidate Smith is too liberal, or too conservative, or too anti-abortion, or too pro-gun-control, or whatever… They want to buy ads and state their feelings. How can we legally stop them?

I say we can’t and in fact shouldn’t, because this is a free country where people have a constitutional right to speak freely, associate freely, and petition their government. If someone feels passionately about a certain issue, and wants to communicate with their fellow citizens before an election, is that not free speech in its most vital form?

The only legal reform I can see providing candidates with public money, as we do in presidential elections. But there is inevitably going to be third-party spending on top of that, which can’t practically be eliminated.

I can’t argue with the fact that our current system protects incumbents, but ultimately people just have to stop acting like sheep. Freedom, alas, includes freedom to make stupid,self-defeating decisions.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 8, 2006 9:16 AM
Comment #165775

The logic that money equals free speach then those with the most money get to talk louder and longer. Congress House of Rep. represent those in their distric so that is their money for election should come from and no where else. This mke a more level playing field. As far as TV time it should be free because the American public own them. A TR REpublican

Posted by: Earl at July 8, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #165778

Our government is FOR-SALE.

Too many arrogant politicians want to keep the voters ignorant, which is why they fuel the petty partisan warfare. They use that common detractor (i.e. fueling the partisan warfare) to distract voters from the politicians’ own malfeasance and incompetence.

All of it is an abuse of power, which results from ignorance, which results from lack of education, which results from laziness.

It’s a vicious circle. We are not in the best part of the cycle. Good times will return again someday, when people are less selfish and more honest, but only after things have deteriorated to the degree that we all have to learn the hard way (again), from the resulting pain and misery of their selfishness, laziness, and abuse of power.

In this era, the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer, and the middle income class continues to shrink, as it has for many years, as median wages have continued to decline since 1999.

A tiny 5% of the people in the U.S. have 60% of all the wealth, and their wealth is growing as the government becomes more and more FOR-SALE, where 90% of all elections are won by the bought-and-paid-for politician (usually the incumbent) that spends the most money.

And voters keep re-electing irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians, because they are brainwashed and/or ignorant (and I used to be one of them, so I can say this).

Too few understand the root human factor and how to account for it. No decent government can thrive without and understanding of the human factor and how to properly account for it.

Too few see or genuinely understand the corruption of both political parties. They fall for the petty partisan warfare. They fail to see that parties are not the solution, because both just take turns abusing the voters, and seduce voters into corrupt politicians’ favorite time-waster and detractor: petty partisan warfare

There appears to be a cycle (even though each iteration is a little different):

,-(1) Corruption, oppression,
| (2) courage, Responsibility, rebellion,
| (3) liberty, growth, abundance,
| (4) selfishness, complacency, fiscal irresponsibility
| (5) apathy, dependency, fiscal & moral bankruptcy,
` - - return to step (1)

A renown economist (Harry S. Dent) also makes note of a cycle (an 80 year cycle).

It appears, sadly, that we are at the end of the cycle, and beginning to return to step (1), as evidenced by the massive number (tens of thousands) of cases of abuse of eminent domain laws (legal plunder), flagrant abuse of presidential pardons, a government that is basically FOR-SALE and controlled by a few with vast wealth and power, selective application of the law, spying on citizens, arresting and detaining people indefinitely without charging them, rampant ignorance of voters that tolerates it, and foolishly keep re-electing the very same people that use and abuse them.

Education is the first step.
Education that emphasizes the importance of Education itelf (always), Transparency, and Accountability. Without that, Power always breeds corruption. Only Educations, Transparency, and Accountability can yield a Responsible use of Power.

As long as voters have the right to vote, there is a chance for improvement now. The remedy is right their under our very own noses. Voting was always supposed to be about voting out irresponsible incumbent politicians. Not pulling the party lever (i.e. voting a straight party ticket). That’s the lazy way of voting. That’s how corrupt incumbent politicians in all parties use and abuse us, and we empower them to continue it by pulling the party lever.

Voters need to understand that they would be doing themselves and everyone else a huge favor by voting out irresponsible incumbents, always.

Many things would suddenly begin to improve if voters would merely hold their elected officials accountable.

Ignorance is a result of laziness.

At the root of so many problems is laziness, which breeds all sorts of other bad things.

Voters must stop being lazy and stop pulling the party lever, and start voting for more responsible people, and stop re-electing incumbent politicians that have already proven to be irresponsible, corrupt, greedy, and threatening the future and security of the nation.


Posted by: d.a.n at July 8, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #165785
Money is not free speech; money provides “access,” a dialogue for promoting corruption.

Paul:

I understand your argument, and I generally agree, but I take issue with this sentence. You claim that money is “dialogue,” but dialogue to me is equivalent to speech.

And this inferred notion that money is only used to “promote corruption” is misinformed. Granted, money can corrupt, but that is never exclusively the case.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 8, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #165841

Alex:

I did not claim money is dialogue. I said money provides access, and access is dialogue for corruption.

Sure, some dialogue is OK. But the vast majority of us have no dialogue at all.

The biggest criticism I have received is that the rich will find a way to get around any law. Of course. But we try to improve our system anyway. A similar argument can be made with reference to criminals. Does this mean we should stop hounding criminals?

Another criticism is that my ideas are against the First Amendment. Just the opposite. Currently, most of us without money are tongue tied. A clean election system will give us free speech.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at July 8, 2006 2:56 PM
Comment #165895

The Griper, we ask Democrats to vote for challengers in their primaries. It is an anti-incumbent vote without having to desert their party. Same for GOP’ers.

The power of the DinoParties is partial illusion. Fact, less than 50% of eligible voters actually vote Dem. or Rep. The ratio today is approximately 1/3 Democrats, 1/3 Republicans, and 1/3 third party, independent, or non-voters. In any given election, if just 20% of the non-voters were to show up, the vast majority of political races would be different that what was anticipated by the statisticians and pundits, and a large number of incumbents would not survive.

The key is to move non-voters, most of whom would vote against incumbents, many for 3rd party and independent candidates, to the polls. This can only be accomplished through grass roots person to person efforts that grow in power over a few election cycles.

I believe we will see another record turnout this year for a mid-term election as we say in ‘04. Many organizations are working very hard to insure that is the case, like Common Cause, PFAW, and a host of others.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2006 4:45 PM
Comment #165957

Paul:

Let me try and follow this:

Money provides access=dialogue=speech

So, money provides dialogue, or speech.

So, by this train of thought, your train of thought, money provides speech, so restricting the flow of money is restricting how much speech can be provided and thus violates the 1st Ammendment.

…I was never very good at math…but I think I got it.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 8, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #165963

Money buys access to the ears which make the laws. Access lasting over lunches, golfing afternoons, and even hunting and fishing trips lasting days. Money is access to speak freely. Which is why money usurps democracy. For in a democracy, all should have equal access to those who make the laws.

This of course does not address the whole issue of legalized bribery via campaign contributions or the blackmail of the wealthy to throw their money against a politicians reelection.

That is a whole other kind of communication, and its not free at all.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2006 7:20 PM
Comment #165965
For in a democracy, all should have equal access to those who make the laws.

David:

Oh, everybody does have equal access…or at least opportunity. You have the opportunity to do well in school, go to a good college, and get a well paying job so you can one day have the access to the lawmakers.

That’s how the system works, and that’s how it should work.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 8, 2006 7:34 PM
Comment #165968

Alex, ahh, so you believe wealth should entitle political and government access. Well, what the hell are we allowing poor folks to vote for?

Democracy is an equal voice for all. Oligarchy is government access by the wealthy. Obviously, you don’t believe in the democratic part of our “democratic republic”. I understand. I just don’t agree at all.

So, you don’t believe Iraqis, 80% of whom are poor, should have a say in government? Or at least not an equal say with the wealthy? So, you oppose democracy in Iraq. Hence, you oppose Bush’s goal of invading Iraq to spread democracy in the Middle East.

Thank you, Alex for being so candid.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 8, 2006 7:40 PM
Comment #166005

Paul :

You are right — money “buys” power. That is why I am in favor of tem limits for ALL political offices. Our Founding Fathers felt that there should be no such thing as a “career” politician. They believes that a person should only serve for a short period of time and then let the next person do his duty in office. There was even an unwritten agreement that no one should serve more than two terms as President because that is what George Washington did until FDR was elected for four terms ( 1932; 1936; 1940 & 1944 ). During the Truman administration the Admendment was passed to limit the term of office to just two elected terms. Unfortunately this does not apply to the U S Senate or the House. It is high time that it does so that no Republican or Democrat feels that because they have been elected time and time again that they “own” that seat. Maybe then our great Country will get back on track and truely represent the needs of all Americans.

Posted by: WRA at July 8, 2006 9:04 PM
Comment #166017

WRA
I agree. Case in point, U.S. Representative Peter Hoekstra. Ran agaisn’t longtime incumbant Guy Vanderjagt(26 years Representative) on a platform of term limits and vowing not to accept PAC money. Said he would limit himself to six terms. Both promises broken. Is now Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Not bad for a Dutch born funiture salesman.

Posted by: mark at July 8, 2006 9:58 PM
Comment #166018

David:

Hmmm, I don’t actually remember saying any of those things you mentioned, so thank you for so candidly spinning my words.

Here is what I will say. I believe every person in America has an opportunity to succeed and be whomever they want to be. I believe that any one person, with enough hard work and determination, can make it to the top here in America.

Now, if the system were any different, the following wouldn’t apply. In the capitalistic society we live in today, where everyone has an equal opportunity, the people who succeed will reap the greater rewards. So, although everyone has “access” to lawmakers (you can contact any public official via telephone, email, postal mail, petitions, etc.) restricting fiscally or socially fortunate people from greater access is unconstitutional. Barring a lobbyist from legally advocating his agenda outside of mail or petitioning (not like Abramoff) is unconstitutional.

So, please don’t put words in my mouth, misconstrue any facts, or spin any rhetoric. The aforementioned is what I believe, nothing more…nothing less.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 8, 2006 10:05 PM
Comment #166040

Griper: What I said was not a poll tax. I do not know where you got that. Poll taxes are and should remain illegal. I mentioned no requirement that the tax had to be paid in order to vote.
Proof of voting is not a complicaed matter.Just isn’t.
Those that pay no taxes would certainly be able to vote. Not a poll tax. Those on fixed incomes would like everyone else have to pay no more,just vote. Absentee voting is easy,convenient and leaves a paper trail.

Tom D: If you do not want people to vote that means you think that idea might work. Thanks.
I do not believe you give Americans enough credit. Sooner or later they will vote their best interest. That is democracy. There has been a tremendous amount of time and money convincing people their vote does not matter.They have been beat over the head with it so many times they believe it. One look at the Mexican election should change anyones mind. “Voter Supression” is an old tactic. It has been used by both parties but now is the favorite of the Republicans.They are the ones with the most to lose if average Americans started voting in droves.


For the anti-incumbent, dragging in lots of new voters,kicking and screaming, would most likely put incumbents in peril.

Term Limits

I live in California. Years ago we adopted term limits for state offices. They are a legendary disaster. The level of partisan wrangling increased. New legislators strive to make their mark before they really know what they are doing. Members in their second and last term often spend more time lining up their next office,apoinment or job than they do on the job the have, The power of unelected state beaurocrats has increased. They are the ones with the institutional knowlege and connections to be effective. Districts still rarely change parties even if the incumbent is termed out. Rather than opening the door for average Americans there has been even more of a tendancy for legislators to be wealthy. One very bright friend of mine considered running for assembly. He gave up the idea because he would have to give up his promising career for what is a temporary position. Many talented people are in the same position. Making law is complicated. It is not enough to have a good and noble ideas. Relationships are needed to acomplish political goals that take time to build. Skills needed to solve complex problems take practice and experience. When you have your car worked on you want an experienced mechanic. Same thing applies to your legislator. If the voters do not like them they can be voted out. When I vote I should have the right to vote for whomever I wish. Placing limits on candidates eligibility beyond the basics like age,residence etc. denies me that right. All told term limits do not solve the problems we have been discussing here and lead to many other problems as well.

Posted by: BillS at July 9, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #166053

BillS,

I do not assume to be able to read the thoughts of others only their words. and the keyword in your original post was raise “everyone’s” taxes by the amount stated. everyone is subject to the income tax including those i singled out. it was only in your response to me you made exemptions to that tax.

as for it being a poll tax i still contend it is. the reason being is that you made paying that tax contengent on whether or not a person voted. the only difference is that you have reversed the process and make those who do not vote pay the tax. this could and would be seen as a reverse poll tax. and a reverse poll tax is still a poll tax in the same manner that reverse discrimination is still discrimination.

Posted by: The Griper at July 9, 2006 4:08 AM
Comment #166054

Ahhhh David,

i think i see where you are coming from now. you are using the same premise akin to the libertarians who have the “free state” project, both in wyoming and in a new england state.

Posted by: The Griper at July 9, 2006 4:26 AM
Comment #166057

Thanks, Alex again for your candor, regarding your beliefs. Back in philosophy in college, we learned first hand how futile it is to debate a person’s beliefs, because by definition, their beliefs don’t rest on empirical fact or logical proofs.

Thank you for saving me volumes of electrons in a futile attempt to debate your beliefs. I have beliefs too. We all do. A big part of efficient debate is seeking out the beliefs of the adversary, thereby determining if logical debate resting on empirical fact is even possible.

Fortunately for America, our legislative bodies were founded upon deliberation of empirical data and the application of logical reason to determine law and policy. Until recently, it worked pretty well for America. Now our government is full of believers, and our future is looking bleaker by the year.

Examples: no secure borders 5 years after 9/11, doubling of the national debt to unparalleled levels, significant drops in educational performance while increasing grades. Bringing George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” warnings out of fiction and into reality. Continual loss of competitive advantage in international trade. To name just a few.

It is amazing to see what havoc and destruction belief can wrench from minds otherwise capable of deliberation. Iraq stands as testament to the destructive capacity of belief. Belief led to pictures of Iraqi delivered mushroom clouds in American cities. Belief led to statements about vast caches of WMD and ongoing WMD development and innovation. Belief, instead of empirical evidence and deliberation of that evidence led us into this quagmire called the Iraq War.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 9, 2006 5:23 AM
Comment #166059

David,

you say a belief does not rest on empirical evidence and deliberation. then what is it called that does rest on empirical evidence and deliberation in your belief system?

Posted by: The Griper at July 9, 2006 8:08 AM
Comment #166061

Alex
I could not disagree more with your statement that “everyone has an equal opportunity”. Does the person born and raised in poverty have the same opportunity to a higher education as one born into wealth? Does one born into poverty have the same career opportunities as one born with a silver spoon in their mouth? Does one born into poverty have the same opportunities for health care as one born into riches? Does one born into poverty have the same opportunity to access the political system as one who belongs to a family of wealth and power?

Posted by: mark at July 9, 2006 8:17 AM
Comment #166075

David:

Very touching, really.

Mark:

This fundamental ideal has been debated fiercly for quite some time. I am not asserting that it is not tough for an impoverished child to rise to riches. In fact, only hard work and determination will propel him to the wealthy class. But it can be done, and it has been done, and people are doing it everyday.

That’s what’s so great about this country: no matter how bad you think your life is, you always have a chance to improve yourself and attain your goals. Granted, naturally born rich kids might have an easier time achieving their goals, but there’s not much we can do about that…except provide enough opportunity for eveybody else to succeed…which we do.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 9, 2006 10:06 AM
Comment #166082

Alex,

I would add one question to Mark’s list. Does someone with an IQ of 70 to 80 have the same opportunity to achieve wealth, and thus political influence, as someone with an IQ of 120 to 140?

I mean Forrest Gump was a great movie, but…….

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at July 9, 2006 10:32 AM
Comment #166085
Does someone with an IQ of 70 to 80 have the same opportunity to achieve wealth, and thus political influence, as someone with an IQ of 120 to 140?

KansasDem:

Obviously the person with the 70 IQ is at a severe disadvantage. But do they still have the opportunity? Yes. They can still attend school, take the SAT, and get into college, but it will be much tougher for them.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 9, 2006 10:46 AM
Comment #166088

Alex: So according to your set of beliefs then the people that put on your roof,repair your car,piant your house,grow and process your food,teach your children etc. do not deseve a say in how their country is run?

Posted by: BillS at July 9, 2006 11:24 AM
Comment #166092

The campaign finance reformers do need to address this money=free speech nonsense as so-called reform just gives wealthy candidates an advantage.

Michigan’s and New Jersey have been mentioned but just look at California. Unlimited spending in the Democratic primary between multi-millionaire Phil Angelides and uber multi-millionaire Steve Westly was not a pretty sight. Too candidates who differed mostly in temperment and philosophy and very little policy-wise could only go negative with the worst distortions of each other’s record. Still, Angelides may not have kept up and beat Westly’s millions without millions in donations from Angelides’ developer pals. Democracy was not served.

And now Angelides goes up against many times multi-millionaire Schwarzenegger. With money equaling free speech expect that speech to be negative and disingenuous. If candidates only had enough public money to talk about the issues and their differences without repeating the same distortions over and over I believe we can better elections. Give the incumbent (who has a huge advantage in name recognition) 75% of the money the challenger gets and let it all be publicly financed.

At least money doesn’t always equal winning. Just look at Al Chechi and Huffington previously here in California. But the trend is ominous.

Posted by: chris2x at July 9, 2006 11:41 AM
Comment #166098

Alex
I never meant to imply that it couldn’t be done but you specifically stated that there was equal opportunity, that is what I so strongly disagree with. The rich and their children have so much more opportunity in this country that I find it downright sickening. I believe we need to work much harder to provide more opportunites, better opportunities for the not so rich. We have a long way to go before we can say there is “equal opportunity”.

Posted by: mark at July 9, 2006 12:12 PM
Comment #166121

Mark,

What you are talking about is equality of outcomes not equality of opportunities. There is a difference. It will always be more difficult for those in poverty to rise to success than those in luxury, largely because we define success in the U.S. by luxury. However, that does not mean that there is not equal opportunity for success for nearly every child in the U.S. I say nearly because as Kansas points out, there are some that by their physical and mental limitations will not have that opportunity.

To Paul’s original post, do we really think that the current situation in the U.S. is any different than what has been the case throughout much of our history. The rich with a few exceptions have led our country for nearly all of our history. The other rich have had access to legislator’s and executives by a myriad of social institutions.

The reality is that the pervasiveness of money in the current political system has allowed the access to dip deeper into the electorate than ever before. It seems counterintuitive, but not until the formation of PAC’s could groups of like-minded citizens get together and buy access. If anyone wanted access badly enough, they could scrape together a $1,000 contribution from their friends, family, or other like-minded people and make a contribution to the PAC that would allow their representative more access to legislators and executives. It is within the means of most of the middle class if they considered that important that they could make the contribution on their own. It wouldn’t buy them lots of access, but it would far outstrip whatever access they had 50 our 100 years ago.

And by the way, having the rich serve as our representatives hasn’t been all bad. FDR and JFK all come to mind as rich legislators on the Democratic side of the aisle. Regean and TR on the Republican side.

Posted by: Rob at July 9, 2006 1:42 PM
Comment #166125

Rob
Can you honestly sit there with a straight face and tell me that a child born to a single parent who earns $12,000 a year has the same opportunity to attend Yale or Duke as a person born to parents with an annnual income of thirty million? That a child born into poverty will have the same health care opportunities as someone who’s parents earn a good income with a good health insurance plan? If you honestly believe this you need a reality check.

Posted by: mark at July 9, 2006 1:56 PM
Comment #166129

Why is everyone obssessed over the use of this word “equal” so as to use it as an adjective to each issue of discussion, equal this, equal that, equal everything or anything? has anyone really thought about what kind of existance this would be if it was an existance of equality in all things?

the constitution does not declare the right to equal opportunity only opportunity. it is our responsibility to take advantage of those opportunities given us. and the results of taking advantage of any opportunity will inevitibly be unequal and not necessarily in favor of the rich.

Posted by: The Griper at July 9, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #166136

Mark,

You missed my point. I wasn’t saying that one child born in poverty has an equal chance to go to Duke as one child born to a millionaire. I was saying that for all the children born into poverty, there is no limitation for them being able to go to Duke. That is the difference, it is equality of opportunity, anyone (given the right circumstances, luck, and hardwork) can make it. Many more born into poverty will fail than those born to millionaires. Some through their own shortcomings, some from no fault of their own. However, there are children that were born into poverty at Duke right now. It can happen, that is equality of opportunity.

What you are talking about is equality of outcomes where all children born in poverty will succeed at the same rate as all children born to millionaires. A noble goal for a society perhaps, but it will never happen. America, however, unlike most other countries in the world has succeeded at providing equality of opportunity.

Posted by: Rob at July 9, 2006 2:13 PM
Comment #166138

The Griper, the Constitution talks of equal rights under the law. There cannot be equal rights under the law if some are more equal than others in influencing legislation to their benefit and to the detriment of everyone else.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 9, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #166139

The Griper asked : “then what is it called that does rest on empirical evidence and deliberation in your belief system?”

My belief system has no empirical evidence as a basis. That is precisely why it is my belief system as opposed to my knowledge base. I am a Buddhist. My belief in a great spirit has no empirical proof or deliberated conclusions based on proof. My belief in reincarnation has no empirical basis. That is why it is my belief. And no amount of argument, debate, or empirical evidence exists which can dissuade that belief.

My conclusion that our nation is far weaker today than it was when Bush was elected is part of my knowledge base. As such, it rests on empirical evidence which can be tested and viewed by all for verification as in our national debt having increased 50%, our military stretched and occupied restricting our capacity to engage elsewhere, and the baby boom retirement demographic which will either fail and leave 10’s of millions of Americans in poverty or which, if salvaged, will vastly increase our already huge national debt, weakening our economic future.

My knowledge base is refutable by contradictory evidence, and hence, my knowledge base is subject to change through new facts and data and deliberation of those. My beliefs however, are not.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 9, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #166149

Anyone that believes there is egual opportunity subscribes to a myth. Any one that believes egual opportunity is an admirable goal must logically support a stiff inheritance tax.

Posted by: BillS at July 9, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #166151

BillS, then our founding fathers subscribed to a myth. However, in their day, it was called an ideal, for our more perfect union.

The equal opportunity concept is most responsibly defined as an equal opportunity to develop one’s talents, abilities, and capacities. Toward that end, government beginning with the Constitution, has a great role to play in insuring that certain basic individual rights are protected from the government and the rest of society at large.

If government is going to get into the education business, which it has for centuries, it then must take on that role observing Constitutional protections like the establishment clause and imparting a just system of education which treats all American children equally with regard to discipline and reward. The government owes this to the parents of children as laid out by the Constitution.

I personally believe the federal government should either standardize education in a manner acceptable to 3/4 of the states, or stay out of education altogther. But these half way carrot and stick measures are a waste of time, tax dollars, and effort in terms of consistent educational standards over time.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 9, 2006 3:30 PM
Comment #166159

Rob,
To say there is equal opportunity to go to Duke or any other university that charges tuition is a great example of just how brainwashed some people can be. The cost of a college education has almost completely eliminated the opportunity for many of the youth of this nation to attend an instituion of higher learning.

Posted by: mark at July 9, 2006 4:15 PM
Comment #166160

Here we go back to the anti-incumbent agenda. Congressional disctricting is deliberately, not accidentally, advantageous to the incumbents. That is the problem.
On the Stephanopolous show today they were talking about Lieberman and his primary opponent in CT, and foozball Allen and the Rpblcn who wants to run as a democrat against him in VA. Those are the really possible anti-incumbent races, because their districts were drawn over 200 years ago.

And is anyone surprised that the current SCOTUS thinks money is speech. They are almost all Rpblcn appointees. Long live Ruth B.G. and that other guy.

Posted by: ohrealy at July 9, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #166168

Alex,

I understand your opinion, and I even respect it, but I simply feel that far too many American’s feel disenfranchised at this point. I don’t even have an answer about how to combat complacency.

To use financial means would be IMO downright wrong no matter how you cut it. I’m not crazy about term limits either (I tend to think if someone is doing an excellent job they shouldn’t be forced to step down).

Education really is the answer, but a person must not narrow their views by following only those educational or news sources that they agree with. I guess it all boils down to being personally responsible for the world we live in.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at July 9, 2006 4:41 PM
Comment #166173

Of course we need these common sense measures passed, but honestly is there any possibility of it? These are wealthy powerful people who control the system, and they won’t allow any of this. It’s kind of like depending on congressmen to rid congress of corruption, when the congressmen are the ones engaging in this behavior it’s hopeless.

The other issue that’s related to this is having verifiable elections with paper trails, that can’t be tampered with. Until we both make sure our elections are indeed trustworthy and remove the corrupting power of money from the system, we won’t ever have a government that’s truly by and for the people.

Unfortunately the system is already too corrupted to be changed from within, I hate to say it but most likely it will have to get much worse and then some kind of revolt or civil disobedience will have to occur before meaningful change happens.

Rob, nearly all the wealth in this country is inherited. Even wealthy people like donald trump and bill gates had large amounts of inherited money to begin with. Poor and middle class people can of course become wealthy enough to influence politicians but it’s very rare and most likely they’re very lucky and just happen to be at the right place at the right time. It’s naive to think that if someone isn’t wealthy they easily could be if they just worked harder, and that if someone’s very wealthy they worked hard (when they probably inherited it).

Posted by: mlt at July 9, 2006 5:09 PM
Comment #166200

Mr. Remer: The founders advanced the notion of equality of opportunity with the radical concept that membership in the ruling class should not follow bloodlines. A great and bold step. The idea of equality of opportunity is admirable. On the other hand,if any of them actually believed that is what they had created in society then they were clearly delusional. The very term you used”founding fathers” is proof of that point. Where are the founding mothers? How about counting blacks as 3/5 s of a person? How about suffrage for native Americans?
I am some what amused about California’s public college system. A few years ago laws were passed eliminating affirmative action. As expected the number of Blacks and Hispanics has declined. On the other hand,the number of Asian students has soared. I do not have the number at hand but it is approaching 50%. Also the percentage of females has increased . I am waiting for the same people who pushed the elimination of affirmative action to start pushing for affirmative action for white males. I doubt I’ll be disapointed. Of course legacy admissions are already a form of White affirmative action. How about we get rid of those? Merit only. Equality of opportunity.
I do find it tedious reading post by those that clearly started on third base and think they hit a home run. Our president falls into that category. On the other hand I am heartend by a youg woman I have been privelged to know. I know her background. Her parents are alcoholic-drug addicts.
frequently living off public assistence with their many children.Frequently in legal trouble. Her father is black and mother white. She recieved a basketball scholorship to Stanford. She was good but not good enough for their team. She stayed and graduated on the strength of her grades. Success stories like hers are far too rare but shows how we can all benefit by opening doors,even just a little. Equality of opportunity.


Posted by: BillS at July 9, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #166214

BillS, hence the term a more “perfect union”. The founding fathers had many issues like slavery that they could not agree upon in drafting the Constitution. They could not even agree on the Bill of Rights being included in the Constitution so they were added separately.

But it was their intent, in proscribing an amendment process, that our nation should be afforded the opportunity to continually strive and reach for that more perfect union in the future, even if perfection of the ideals laid out could not be achieved in 1776. All men are created equal and should be afforded equal treatment under the law. No person should be above the law, nor beneath it. Not achievable in 1776, but which among our founding fathers would not have hoped that such ideals could one day be achieved?

And we did end most of slavery. And we did extend civil rights and universal suffrage, mostly, and we did hold on to the Union despite a bloody civil war, and we are still a secular government mostly, and we have miles to go before we rest from these endeavors to create a more pefect union.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 9, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #166251

Mr.Remer: Here,Here!
Well put. That is why I find those that think everything is just peachy so irritating. Their denial of obvious inequalities is a betrayal of our founding principles.

Posted by: BillS at July 10, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #166267

Bills, their denial of a worsening future is what I find exasperating. They brush off the national debt and the growing global anti-America sentiment and our losses on competitive advantage in the global marketplace as just a cyclical blip, rationalizing we had bad times before, no problem. We will grow our way out of them.

Fact is, the present, in significant ways, does not mirror the past. Globalization and near instantaneous transportation were not factors in previous downturns. In the past, we have never been anywhere near as dependent upon the the rest of the world as we are today, either. In the past, our enemies could not enter our country by the millions undetected.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 3:41 AM
Comment #166270

David Remer: “our enemies could not enter our country by the millions undetected” What do you mean by that?

Posted by: BillS at July 10, 2006 4:18 AM
Comment #166273

BillS, I mean that in the past, transportation infrastructure was not what it is today, and in the past, millions of illegal immigrants including our enemies, could not easily cross into our borders unnoticed. A million Japanese could not cross over the Mexican border in 1944 without being noticed and detected.

Today, if the will and financing is available it is a piece of cake for al-Queda to masquerade as Brazilians or Argentinians and cross into our country over the Mexican border without detection, secure jobs in Georgia, and grow their sleeper cells for years to come. al-Queda has demonstrated one very strong weapon, patience, in setting up their attacks.

I find it hard NOT to believe that for every al-Queda individual our government detects in the U.S., 10 more made it in and are sleeping and laying future plans. Those statistics are in keeping with many of our crime rates. We catch only a small number of the total thieves who perpetrate thefts in this country. I just came home from an electronics store 5 days ago after purchasing a $129 sound card. Got home, opened the box, and the sound card and CDs were missing. How likely is it that thief will be caught?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 7:06 AM
Comment #166286

MLT,

My point is that using an easily definable device like money makes it easier not harder for the middle class to gain access. In the past, access was controlled based on proximity to those in power. That proximity was defined by belonging to the right clubs, living in the right neighborhoods, and going to the right schools. While this still has some bearing, the increased role of money, makes access available to those who never had it before.

Yes, I understand the most wealth is inheireted, but it doesn’t take wealth to make a contribution or two. What it takes is prioritizing the time and energy to come up with the money and committing to it as personally important. That is something that most of us in the middle class won’t do, but the opportunity is available.

I understand very well the limits to class mobility in the United States today. However, what I see is a country that has allowed more mobility than any other country in the world. There can be improvements. Mark suggested one that is already being pushed by the elite universities…free access for those who are qualified but without the means to attend. Mark, were you aware that if you come from a family that makes less than $50k annually that the tuition to Harvard is free?

Mark, let me repeat, my point was never that great success will be an attainable goal for everyone. There are many that will fail, some without any blame for themselves. However, we are one of the few countires where the opportunities to succeed are available to all who can muster the work and luck necessary to achieve it. When we founded our country we decided not to have a King, this allowed access to the Presidency to anyone who was born in the States. Many will aspire that their new babies will end up in the white house, fewer of those babies will grow up to share that aspiration, and fewer still will have the skills, means, and luck to achieve it, but the opportunity is there. That is equality of opportunity.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2006 10:11 AM
Comment #166289
Alex: So according to your set of beliefs then the people that put on your roof,repair your car,piant your house,grow and process your food,teach your children etc. do not deseve a say in how their country is run?

BillS:

I think we’ve moved past this point a long time ago, and I believe I answered this in a previous post: people already have access to government officials (email, postal mail, petitions, etc.) but restricting the access that affluent people have to legislators just because they can afford it and the average joe can’t is a violation of the 1st amendment, as outlined earlier with my mathematical diagram.

I believe we need to work much harder to provide more opportunites, better opportunities for the not so rich. We have a long way to go before we can say there is “equal opportunity”.

Mark:

I guess we define equal opportunity differently. I define equal opportunity as having the ability to attain access to all the educational and fiscal resources to succeed. Sure, the poor kid might not be able to afford his SAT prep-class so he can get a better grade on the SAT, but if his mom gets a night job, and he works on weekends, maybe they can do it…

It’s the idea that anyone can get anything, (equal opportunity) you just have to work hard enough.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 10:49 AM
Comment #166300

Alex
I don’t think our defintion on equal opportunity is all that different. While I agree that theoretically anyone has a chance to get anything, they do not have an equal chance as you seem to admit is saying that some will have to go to greater lengths to get that chance. If some have to work harder(and others hardly at all) how can you make the case for equal opportunity?

Posted by: mark at July 10, 2006 12:08 PM
Comment #166302

Rob
That may be opportunity but it is not equal opportunity.
Please tell me how to muster up some luck as I could sure use a little now and then.

Posted by: mark at July 10, 2006 12:15 PM
Comment #166303

Mark:

I am not defining equal opportunity as having to work just as hard to achieve the same goal. I am defining equal opportunity by saying that everyone has the same chances.

Ex. a poor person cannot become president because they are poor…this would not be equal opportunity. I am saying that although the poor person has a tougher journey to become president, it can still be done….ie, they still have an equal opportunity, although it will be tougher.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #166305

Alex, every Mom and Dad in the world has an equal opportunity to see their son or daughter be the first person to step foot on Mars, too. But, what are the odds?

Similar odds: kids born in America becoming wealthy, a genius, or famous. Equal opportunity sounds great when you are wealthy, high atypical intelligence, or famous. But, it is a term with little meaning for everyone else. And that small fact has huge social and political implications. Example, there is a huge wealth redistribution coming with the baby boom crunch. That too can be called equal opportunity. But, the wealthy won’t think so. See how the shoe fits on the other foot?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 12:19 PM
Comment #166307

Alex
If it is tougher(or any other adjective you want to use) it is not equal. Case closed.

Posted by: mark at July 10, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #166311

Mark:

Quite frankly, the definition of equal opportunity is irrelevant to this debate. What is relevant is the idea that everyone in America has the same chances, they just might have to work harder.

…And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it fosters growth, learning and dedication, culminating in a more rounded, hardened individual, as oppose to a weak-willed, pampered individual.

So, I would argue that people who don’t get everything handed to them, and have to work for success, are the people who emerge as more resilient, strong-willed individuals.

Alex, every Mom and Dad in the world has an equal opportunity to see their son or daughter be the first person to step foot on Mars, too. But, what are the odds?

Similar odds: kids born in America becoming wealthy, a genius, or famous.

David:

You’re not very optimistic, are you? This country was built on improbable opportunity. America is perhaps the only nation on that planet that fosters an environment that encourages growth, learning, dedication, and commitment. I firmly believe (based on historical precedent) that if you want something bad enough, in America, you can get it.

You may believe that almost everyone in America is exclusively confined to their socialeconomic class, but I think differently…and historcial precedent thinks differently, too.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 12:48 PM
Comment #166334

Mark,

Many think that “make your own luck”. Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities. Be open to any and all opportunities. Be nice and you will have more luck. Be educated and you will have more luck. And yes, be wealthy and you will have more luck. You may not have any control over the last one, but the others you can do.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #166344

Mark,

If it is tougher, it is not equal? Ok, forgive me then, I no longer support equal opportunity.

It should not be as easy for Forest Gump as it is for Bill Gates to write award winning software. He worked his ass off but was blessed with a genius IQ, parents with a garage, and a strong interest in programming.

I don’t want to live in a society where the means are more important than the ends. That is what you are talking about doing, making it equal for all who apply to get into Harvard. Harvard should not have to take those with sub-standard IQ’s. That’s what Yale exists for.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2006 2:29 PM
Comment #166375

Alex and Rob
Thank you both for agreeing with me that there is not equal opportunity in this country. And, Alex thank you for pointing out that someone who has not had to work hard for what they have is a “weak-willed, pampered individual”(sounds like someone with the initials GWB). And Rob, thank you for pointing out that it is Yale that takes people with sub-standard IQ’s(isn’t that where George was a cheerleader?)

Posted by: mark at July 10, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #166413

And Kerry was an activist and both Clinton’s were law students. Yes… that’s Yale full of all Hot Air.

However, I will not concede that there is no such thing as equal opportunity. I have a different definition than you do. Yours is unachievable and mine is reality in America today. Hmmm…tough choice.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2006 7:26 PM
Comment #166457

Alex, your argument fails on the math alone. Take 300 million people and divide that into all dollars in circulation equally. Now, answer the question, if everyone works equally hard, can everyone be as wealthy as Bill Gates? (Hint: not even Bill Gates can be that wealthy under equal wealth distribution). Hence, your whole belief that anyone can achieve what a few others have, is blown out of the water, because mathematically, not even the few others could do as well if everyone had the same gumption, intelligence, and luck. Your belief is entirely illogical according to the mathematical certainty of dividing the population into the total dollars and asking if everyone could do as well as Bill Gates.

End of debate. Let readers decide if they want to follow your belief, or, the logic of mathematical certainty.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 10:03 PM
Comment #166469
End of debate. Let readers decide if they want to follow your belief, or, the logic of mathematical certainty.

David:

Please, stop spinning math to satisfy your little vision of a socialist utopia. The simple fact is that there will always be poor people b/c there will always be lazy, inept, and unlucky people. And your Bill Gates analogy is feeble at best and blatant spin at worst (I’ll take the latter) b/c you don’t have to be the rihest man on the planet to be successful and have access to politicans. Your argument is lunacy.

But alright, I’ll let the readers choose between re-distributing socialism and a weak economy and free-market, fiscally encouraging capitalism.

Most rational people choose the latter…

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 11, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #166471
Thank you both for agreeing with me that there is not equal opportunity in this country.

Max:

I don’t know how many times I have to elucidate this position (I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m not communicating it effectively). You just don’t understand that although some people have to work harder than others, everyone is exposed to the same opportunities for success.

…an example of unequal opportunity would be barring a black person from attending college b/c he’s black. No only is that discrimination, but it prevents all blacks from having the opportunity to attend college.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 11, 2006 12:33 AM
Comment #166482

Alex:

An increasing concern regarding the costs of higher education is the very real fact that many graduates are facing the reality of life-time debt throughout their working lives to pay their college loans. This is a new phenomenon in American life.

The Republicans recently made it even more difficult for middle class folks to obtain college degrees by cutting funding to the Federal college loan program. Interest increases have added $2500-3500 annually, and I suspect that more than a few students had to drop out of school,perhaps permanently.

The cuts to the Food Stamp Program and Student loans amounted to just over $20 billion. At the same time, this Republican Congress gave the top 2% of ‘wage’ earners another $70 billion in tax cuts.

From what I’ve read from various sources, this belief in the upward mobility and equal economic opportunity in this country is misplaced. More and more, the position of your parents dictates how far you will go; this calcifying of economic opportuntiy rivals some European countries, such as France, Spain and others.

This reality has been further exaccerbated by Republican policies, both economic and social, that have accelerated the movement of wealth upward in society over the last 25 years, and have created a yawning gap between the extremely wealthy and the poor, and even the middle classes. This chasm rivals the 1920’s, and portends a social and political challenge to our government that may be every bit a serious as the Great Depression—unfortunately, without the economic wherewithall to face it (A 9 trillion dollar debt, and the value of the dollar sinking fast).

As greater and greater wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the danger to democratic institutions increases. We see it in unresponsive government awash in corporate money and influence, in the concentration of media outlets into ten mega-corporations, in the increased underfunding of reasonable safety net programs like Social Security and the Federal College loan program, and the Medicare Drug Program that was created for the pharmacuetical companies that is full of pork and industry perks.

The Republicans talk a good line about opportunity and equal access, while busily sawing off the bottom rungs of the ladder for millions, then blaming the victims when they can’t overcome Republican stinginess and ideological indifference to the least of us.

Posted by: Tim Crow at July 11, 2006 1:58 AM
Comment #166513

Tim, excellent points and argument. But they may be lost on folks like Alex. Alex’s comments reflect those of a conservative loyalist social Darwinian. And the only arguments that can convert folks like that, is a heavy dose of poverty and injustice perpetrated by their party against them. And even that is no guarantee, because many will be in denial that their party or choice to support it could be flawed, hence, all negative items must be the fault of others. Just like poverty and lack of education are always the fault of those impoverished and uneducated. Alex’s arguments are a tautology that works very effectively as a defense mechanism against feelings or concerns over inferority or being overwhelmed, isolated, or holding of a minority view.

Conservatives are getting a little wilder these days as they hear their very own favorite pundits now discuss the GOP losing one or both Congressional houses in 2006, and very possibly the Presidency in 2008. Folks like Pat Buchannan, Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC guy in a bow tie, and a number of others are now acknowledging the GOP losing ground in November, and asking what can be done to prevent further erosion in 2008.

As if the answer were not perfectly clear. Get out of Iraq, halt the deficit spending, and secure the borders. Simple. But the GOP can’t bring themselves to snub the special interest campaign donors who oppose such policies. That is the bottom line, and that is why the GOP is going to continue to lose ground.

This is making the loyalists very defensive and a bit irrational as they beef up their denial defense mechanisms. Human behavior is fascinating, especially in the realm of politics, the greatest of all spectator sports in America, where policy and justice, and the Constitution all take a back seat to winning or losing.

Excellent arguments though for the rational folks seeking perspectives from which to weigh their choices and determine their own understanding.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 11, 2006 8:50 AM
Comment #166525

Tim,

Can you please provide a cite for the Federal College Loan impacts that you cite in your article. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

Btw, it’s not a safety net, but a leg up. Distinction without a difference, perhaps, but just wanted to clarify.

Posted by: Rob at July 11, 2006 10:40 AM
Comment #166534

Tim:

I too would like to see sources, but granted your stats are correct, I think your Great Depression characterization displays overt sensationalism and untruthful amplification. Anyone who believes our situation “may be every bit a serious as the Great Depression,” is either spinning to satisfy a leftist agenda, or utterly misinformed.

America is not careening off the mountain headed towards a fiery, painful demise, as you would have us believe.

I agree that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, but not nearly as much and not nearly as fast as you assert.

It’s too bad, your post would have been legitimate, if not for your gross augmentation of reality.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 11, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #166536

Alex
All people do not have the same opportunity to attend college, to health care, to access the political system,etc. If one does not have the same opportunity then one does not have equal opportunity. If you and I are running a race and I make you jump over hurdles while I do not have to you still have the opportunity to win but you do not have an equal opportunity. There is a difference between opportunity and equal opportunity.

Posted by: mark at July 11, 2006 11:58 AM
Comment #166544

Rob:

These links are to a SAn Francisco Chronicle article, and a Providence Journal article. The first really only discusses undergraduate costs. Somewhere, I read an article about the additional costs of graduate school that are becoming a serious problem for young professionals trying to get out from under such debt. I will try to find that particular article. The second only mentions college costs in general, but is an overview of the economic conditions I mentioned.

This really was only a cursory search under “college loan program”. I’m sure you can find further information about it.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0306-03.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1229-33.htm

David:

The most basic and destructive contradiction perpetrated by the Neo-cons and conservatives is a total lack of belief in the efficacy of government to do anything constructive for real people, while convincing the voters that they can run something they despise competently and efficiently.

Of all the misrepresentations perpetrated by conservative thought, this is the most repugnant, to my mind anyway, because their basic ideology is hostile to good government. If Iraq, Katrina, enormous tax cuts during time of war to satisfy party ideology, illegal torture and wiretapping isn’t indicative of extremist ideology, I don’t know what is.

This link is an interesting one, and I think strikes at the heart of conservative disingenuousness. Let me know what you think.

http://alternet.org/story/37947/

Posted by: Tim Crow at July 11, 2006 12:20 PM
Comment #166547

Alex:

My post wasn’t meant to convince you of anything. Believe me, I know better. It was to point out to silent ones who don’t post and only read, an alternative point of view.

I could quote stats and articles and facts until tomorrow night and not convince anyone on the Red side of anything—I’ve seen it happen too often in other threads with debators with much better research and debating skills than I. It is a continuous debunking of sites (obviously slanted, socialist nonsense etc), of sources, of statistics.

I am not a debator, really. But when I see comments that cannot stand the light of scrutiny, I make a comment. I will continue to do so—please feel free to skip my posts if I don’t measure up to your rigorous standards of truth.

Posted by: Tim Crow at July 11, 2006 12:32 PM
Comment #166554

Tim:

If you’re not trying to change my opinion, why did you start your post by addressing me personally?

Secondly, I feel compelled to respond to a post that is directed towards me or towards my particular viewpoint.

So, since your not a debator, you probably won’t respond to my previous post. And that’s ok. We’ll let the readers make the call…

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 11, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #166555

Rob:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0306-03.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1229-33.htm

I posted these two links earlier, and they didn’t show up. The first is an article by the San Francisco Chronicle regarding undergraduate costs. Somewhere I read about graduate school students struggling with debt—I will look for it.

The second article is from the Providence Journal, and deals in more general terms about the economic consequences of conservative policies.

These were found after a very cursory search; I’m sure you can google ‘college loan program’ and get a lot of info. A search under “Pell Grant” would turn up more info.

Posted by: Tim Crow at July 11, 2006 12:54 PM
Comment #166557

Alex:

“If you’re not trying to change my opinion, why did you start your post by addressing me personally?”

I was addressing your ascertions, not trying to change your opinions. There is a wider audience here than just you and me.

And we agree, let the readers decide—they usually do.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Tim Crow at July 11, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #166558
If you and I are running a race and I make you jump over hurdles while I do not have to you still have the opportunity to win but you do not have an equal opportunity.

Mark:

We are talking about two different things but calling it the same thing. You are talking about the quality of opportunity while I am talking about the amount of opportunities.

I assert that everyone has equal opportunity b/c everyone is offered the same amount of opportunities. You argue that there isn’t equal opportunity b/c some people have to work harder than others…to me it’s irrelevant at this point.

We’ve been beating around this bush for a while, hopefully this will bring some closure…

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 11, 2006 1:01 PM
Comment #166579
The Griper wrote: … how do we get a democrat voter not to vote for a democrat incumbent when his only real other choice is a republican or visa versa. as long as we have these two powerful political parties our solution will not solve it. look at the problems that the other political parties in this country have encountered because of the domination

The only solution is through Education, because too much ignorance is standing in our way.

More voters have to understand that both main parties just take turns at using and abusing everyone, and most (if not all) irresponsible incumbent politicians don’t care how it affects the average voter, because the incumbent politicians are busy gettin’ theirs and they have their golden parachutes anyway.

What every voter must learn is how they hurt themselves by re-electing the same incumbent politicians, over and over. Voters currently don’t get it, because they have been too brainwashed to think they have to vote along party lines. They are lazy and pull the party lever. They shouldn’t do that. That practice is perpetuated by most (if not all) irresponsible incumbent politicians, who want to secure their own cu$hy incumbency. And cu$hy it is. Where else can you vote yourself a raise, and all sorts of perk$, and really do little to no work ?

Responsibility = Power + Education + Transparency + Accountability

Corruption = Power - Education - Transparency - Accountability

Education is the key.
Voters must be un-brainwashed.
Voters must peacefully force government to be responsible, because incumbent politicians will not !
Voters (most) will pay the price otherwise.
Voters must see how they are being robbed (litterally; e.g. look at tens of thousands of cases of eminent domain abuse, unfair taxation, selective law enforcement, corporate welfare, abuse of presidential pardons, fraud by the Federal Reserve, fraud by the government by stealing surpluses from Social Security, etc., etc., etc.), used, and abused … and the examples are countless !

How will voters pay?
The U.S. is not invincible.
We have problems.
And those pressing problems are being allowed (by irresponsible incumbent politicians) to grow in number and severity.

Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeate it.

Things take a long time to happen, so it is all the more important that careful consideration is given to government decisions. But, instead, they foolishly look at the current economy, say it is “very good”, and refuse to see where it quite easily could all unravel due to extreme fiscal irresponsibility, out-of-control and unsustainable entitlement systems, never-ending printing of money that causes the ever present inflation, energy vulnerabilities and no vision or planning whatsoever from an inept and incompetent Energy Department, and the list goes on and on.

There will be consequences, and they will take decades to play out. The average voter will suffer the consequences of so much fiscal and moral bankruptcy.

But voters truly have only themselves to thank for it.
Voters continually re-elect the very same crooked incumbent politicians that rip off voters daily.
So, it truly is a government Of / By / For The People.
The problem is The People are ignorant of what’s in store for them, and it is of their own making.

Voters that keep re-electing the very same irresponsible incumbent politicians is truly idiotic.

Your argument is a common one.
QUESTION: Why would a Democrat vote for a non-incumbent when the challenger is a Republican?

ANSWER: It does not matter. All voters must forget all that partisan crap, because that is the very mechanism by which incumbent politicians use and abuse the voters.

If all voters vote out incumbents, it won’t matter which party they belong to.

Parties are not the solution.
Partisan warfare, fueled by irresponsible incumbent politicians in all parties is the problem.

The solution is very simple,
but so elusive.

Common sense must prevail someday, or pain and misery will.

Common sense says that voters should do the one simple thing that voters were supposed to be doing all along, always.

Vote Out Irresponsible Incumbent Politicians.
Always.
Keep the good ones (of which there are only a very few, if any).

That’s what we were always supposed to do, regardless of what party they belong to.

Parties are a cruch.
They are a way for both main parties to simply take turns being irresponsible, get theirs, secure their cu$hy incumbency, vote themselves a rai$e, and basically do what ever the hell they want … and even if convicted of a crime, they can get a presidential pardon like the 140 felons pardoned by Clinton. Who says crime doesn’t pay ?

That’s all.
Vote out irresponsible incumbent politicians.
Nothin’ fancy.
No grand schemes or consipiracies.

We all know what the problem is.
Irresponsible government, and voters that empower them by continually re-electing them.

Duh !

As long as voters have the right to vote, they have the power to reform government.
But voters have got to take interest.
They will when the pain and misery of their own making is bad enough.
Why wait until then ?

Simply vote out all irresponsible incumbents, since they are irresponsible.

Since there are very few (if any) responsible incumbent politicians in Congress, there is very little chance of voting out a really good politicians (if there is such a thing).

So, vote out all irresponsible incumbent politicians, unless they can prove they are responsible, and productive … and that’s gonna be pretty damn hard (if not impossible) since most (if not all) vote on pork-barrel, corporate welfare, troll for big-money for the campaign war chests, all refuse to vote for campaign finance reform, refuse to reform the unfair and abused tax system, refuse to pass many no-brainer, common-sense reforms.

So, If In Doubt,
Vote Them Out !

Stop Repeat Offenders.
Don’t Re-Elect Them.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 2:46 PM
Comment #166585
  • Do that, and money in elections won’t be an issue.
  • Do that, and term limits won’t be and issue.
  • Do that, and gerrymandering won’t matter
  • Do that, and politicians may start to police their own ranks.
  • Do that, and politicians may have some peer pressure to discourage corruption.
  • Do that, and we’ll all be doing what we were supposed to be doing all along, always.
  • Do that, and you’ll see some fast and major improvements.
  • Do that, and it will balance the power between government and The People.
  • Do that, and we’ll probably see problems start to be solved, rather than grow in number and severity.
  • Do that, and we’ll all be better off. Not just one party. Party won’t matter. Time and energy wasting partisan warfare won’t be an issue.
  • Do that, and lots of things will probably get better, and we may be able to avoid the inevitable pain and misery that is sure to result from the consequences of so much fiscal and moral bankruptcy, of which we are all culpable.
Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 2:58 PM
Comment #166588

And start paying attention to which politicians are the worst about fueling the petty partisan warfare (in all parties).

Some are especially blatant about it, because they have been allowed for too long to get away with it.

And, unfortunately, too many voters are all too fond of wallowing in the petty partisan warfare.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #166701

Alex
But what does it matter how many opportunities one has if they are continually pursued with the odds stacked against. You might say well, if one keeps trying they will eventually get there. But for how long can a person beat their head against a brick wall? I’m talking about a certain degree of fairness in opportunities. I know, life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to make it more fair and that we shouldn’t work for a greater degree of equal opportunity(as in quality of opportunity). Thank you Alex for a good discussion.

Posted by: mark at July 11, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #166743

Alex
Do we really all have the same amount of opportunities? Take for instance where I live in a rural area my daughter has the opportunity to take one foreign language in high school, while her cousin, in a large urban high school has the chance to take seven different languages. This is just one example of the differences in the quantity of opportuntities available to students.

Posted by: mark at July 12, 2006 7:27 AM
Comment #166763

Mark:

If your daughter has the desire to learn another language outside of the school cirriculum she can buy language books, CD’s, audio tapes, etc., and teach herself.

If she can’t afford any of that, she can get a job, make some money, and then buy the tapes.

The resources are out there, she just has to go out and get them.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 12, 2006 10:35 AM
Comment #166849

Alex
My daughter is eleven years old and while she does plenty of work around the house I will not force her to go out and get a job to buy books, but that is not the point. Your point(please correct me if I’m wrong) was that the amount of opportuntities for people in the country are equal. This is simply not true. When one student has seven opportunities to learn foreign languages in her public school and another has the opportuntiy to learn only one there is nothing equal about this situation. One school as an honors program for all sorts of different subjcts, the other does not. One shool offers fourteen varsity sports, the other six. I could go on and on. And I am only discussing education at the high school level. We could talk about the number of opportunities in elementary education or vocational education. We could talk about the number of chances a poor, minority, uneducated, female has at a decent paying job compared to someone who has a good education and a network of relatives and acquaintances who are in a position to find a job for them. I could go on and on Alex but I think I’ve written enough. It doesn’t matter if you talk quality or quanity, equal opportunity is a great goal to work for but it still does not exist in our country.

Posted by: mark at July 12, 2006 3:26 PM
Comment #167054

Mark:

This is my whole argument. Just b/c a student isn’t exposed to certain resources, without giving the extra effort, or, in your case, it’s outside of the school cirriculum, doesn’t mean the resources and opportunity aren’t out there.

Granted, it may require a little extra effort, or maybe a lot of extra effort, but, as aforementioned, there’s nothing wrong with working hard…

I don’t strive for the quality of opportunity that you champion. I believe that as long as the quantity is constant, which I believe it is, it’s just a matter of how hard you want to work, the rest is left up to the individual.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 13, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #275658

Very nice.

Posted by: homes at February 17, 2009 10:39 AM
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