Letter: Disease of very big money
In another of Hal Sundin’s fine columns (PI, July 2), he writes about the loss of our democracy at the national level. What we now have is a plutocracy, a government by the few. We could also call our federal government fascism — that is a government run by private business interests. Many would say: “And there’s a problem with that?”
The disease of very big money infecting the political process is rapidly attacking our state governments. I doubt many of the GSPI readers would be familiar with an organization that goes by the acronym of ALEC; that is the American Legislative Exchange Council. This group is funded by billionaires and has as its members many of the country’s large corporations. ALEC produces a variety of bills ready-made for introduction into our states’ legislatures. Some of these bills would make it harder for some citizens to vote, eliminate pensions for government employees, reduce spending on public schools, privatize public services and public lands and reduce spending on state infrastructure. They also provide bills that reduce taxes on large earners. These same ALEC members provide large campaign donations to the state legislators that put forward the bills. After reading this, you may start to feel like you are left out of the loop — which we are.
But, yes, America still has a long tradition of democratic practices at lower levels. We have school districts, fire districts, community funded colleges, scouting organizations for youth, recreation leagues, churches and many other local organizations that operate as actual democracies. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “Democracy in America” published in 1835. He was pleased to see the prevalence of budding democracy in every nook and cranny; and particularly noted the absence of an “aristocracy.” Unfortunately, it’s back.
Perhaps our widespread daily experience with local democracy has taken our eye off the ball. I mean the ball that is getting tossed around at the federal and state house level. That’s just not going to cut it.
We started a “War for Independence” in 1775. It looks like we will have to do this again.
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