Tom Ferguson on Congress for Sale

We’ve featured some articles by our favorite curmudgeon, political scientist Tom Ferguson, on the role of money in elections. More recently, he has been writing about the remarkably brazen system by which committee leadership positions are for sale in the House and Senate.

This Real News Network segment reviews how this ugly system works, and discusses its implications. Ferguson also discusses how the system could be reformed.


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21 comments

  1. Hal Roberts

    Yes they want to cut our social spending while they leverage Wall Street to the moon so they can jack up their dividend welfare checks. 12000.00 DOW less Leverage = 600. DOW at best. That should be the OWS message.

  2. Blissex

    «the remarkably brazen system by which committee leadership positions are for sale in the House and Senate.»

    That’s really wrong. They are not for sale — it is the influence of the leadership positions that is for sale.

    The requirement is for leaders to raise more money for the party than non leaders, and bigger leaders to raise a lot more money for the party than smaller leaders.

    Then implicit assumption is that bigger leaders can sell a lot more influence than smaller leaders, who can sell a lot more influence than non-leaders.

    Put another way, the assumption is that a big leader will get a lot more donations than a smaller leader, and a smaller leader than a non-leader, and the rule is that they have to hand over to the party a fixed chunk of that, and then they can keep the rest.

    That is, it is not the would-be-leader that buys the leadership position by paying a lot of money, but it is assumed that once selected the party leaders will be showered with money proportionally to their influence and have to turn a chunk of that over to the party.

    The assumption is cynical but realistic, because that’s how the system works.

    Now is the bottomost 50-60% of potential voters actually voted and most importantly if the 95% who don’t support their candidate with donations did, things would be very different.

    But USA citizens think that democracy is a spectator sport, and expect it to be advertiser funded like most professional sports, and don’t want to pay a season ticket for their team, or even don’t watch that channel that much.

    1. Foppe

      Quibble: You should not have written “The assumption is cynical but realistic, because that’s how the system works”, but rather “this is how the system has been redesigned to work. And with that small change, most of the rest of your argument (and the red herring you start out with) no longer works, because you assume that it’s always been this way, and that “realistic equals unavoidable”, whereas what’s really the case, and what Ferguson has already argued, is that the system has been corrupted from the inside out. Anyway, would really recommend you read the article I linked to.

      1. skippy

        One of the counter intuitive things about pedophilia and incest_is_that many of the children victims, grow to accept it and some times enjoy it.

        Skippy…too many story’s my ears have heard, its probably the victims greatest hurdle, to overcome, in counseling.

        1. digi_owl

          Now that can make a philosophical mind go wild, depending on where one think oneself located on the objectivism or relativism of morality…

    2. James

      Or, we could publicly fund elections, sharply limit private money in political campaigns, and sharply limit the time window for political speech related to any such election to occur(Yes, censorship! Political speech enabled by money is just censorship by other means as well.) All enforced by robustly funded government agencies whose only mandate was strictly non-partisan. None of which will actually happen of course, because regulatory capture has already occurred and the big lie has already worked its magic on the 95%. The rich have already won that war and ain’t about to give up their ill-gotten gains without a fight.

      It IS important to remember however, that all of this COULD still be done should we somehow marshal the backbone to do it. If only so our kids can look back one day and say yeah, that was the point right there when the worthless bastards just rolled over and died as a nation.

      Shovel these guys even MORE money in the hope that at this late date they’ll actually grow a conscience and do what’s right for ALL OF US instead of the 1% of us? Especially now, when most of the 95%’s “expendable” cash is pretty much completely accounted for and the 5%’s pockets are deeper than ever? Talk about a hard sell! Try taking THAT message to the streets and see where it gets you.

      1. James

        The obvious conclusion is that the US dominated global fascist militarist system has been completely corrupted and must come down. The only question at this point is, which generation will finally pull it off? Still hard to say at this point, but I’m betting that they’re already alive and breathing, whoever they are.

        1. ECON

          James is correct in asking “who and when will it come down” ie: the corrupt system. When the mass of voters/citizens put down the channel changer and think of how corrupt the system is, only then will it happen. Maybe peacefully when Berlin Wall came down or not so peacefully when Rumania dealt a lethal blow to the ruling oligarchy.

          1. James

            Prolly going to be a GREAT DEAL worse than that my friend. Hey! WE ARE the United States!

            (Extra points for connecting the dots to the “WE ARE…” reference).

  3. sleeper

    Seems to me that the first question the MSM or any participant at a open house, town meeting, or on the Sunday talking heads programs (for that matter all interview) is ” Mr Chairman the X committee is an important committee in Congress – it’s clear that there is a system of payments to gain a leadership position .. – Could you tell our audience how much you or your office is paying or has paid for this position ?

    Of course this is totally unrealistic but it would be real fun for a while.

    1. James

      Completely unrealistic? I’ll be VERY MUCH surprised if that question doesn’t get asked over and over again over the next year and a half. And their long-winded, equivocating, “stay relentlessly on message” answers should be just priceless as well. Hopefully to show up on YouTube and be repeated relentlessly, in the hopes that even shysters can eventually be shamed (I know, that’s asking A LOT!). Hey, the LEAST we can do is make these sorry lying bastards sweat a little before ascending the throne of influence peddling.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Pretty weak beer. The Romans had the daily spectacle in the arena. Real blood. Real gore. Every now and then, the Emperor’s. All we get is the occasional season of avoided questions.

        1. James

          Yeah, but ours is TELEVISED! By the way, which beer are YOU drinking? Might be time to upgrade to a genuine Stone IPA my friend.

          As to avoided questions. Might be time to review just who’s asking, who’s avoiding, and just who owes whom an answer in the first place, don’t ya’ think? And then to ask those same questions once again with some GENUINE EMPHASIS for a change? Kinda like we… oh, I dunno… actually OWN the place?

          I can see that we evidently need a few more people with “nothing left to lose” to overcome critical mass. It’s coming. Even in the land of sheep and the home of the slaves; REST ASSURED, it’s coming!

        2. Psychoanalystus

          I agree — our circuses are pretty lame. This is why I am working on a new live show called “Dancing With the Lions”.

  4. JohnB

    Don’t be too surprised when the puppet masters are concocting the force all pension plans, 401k’s and soc. security into US bonds and T-notes, managed by TBTF and all for your own “financial security” of course.

  5. Waking Up

    Under the current Congressional “system”, an
    assumption can be made that those with the
    greatest influence and leadership positions,
    are the most corrupt.

    1. Gil Gamesh

      And Congress is a mirror to our society. The least among us are best. Our leaders, those we deem successful, the “winners” in this highly-rigged, immoral, soul killing, death dealing American Way of Life, are nothings.

  6. Psychoanalystus

    You know, as I am typing this I am watching C-SPAN’s Book-TV, and that guy, what’s his name, Thomas Friedman — you know, that New York Times corporate ass-kisser — talks up his new book called “It Used to be Us”. Let me tell you, he’s making it sound like America is not only going to have another great century, but even a great millennium, if only another Ross Perot rises just in time for the 2012 election.

    I think I better switch back to Al Jazeera right away…LOL

    1. skippy

      You know if his feet ever touched the ground, he might feel gravity, can’t let that happen. Other wise how could he deify the laws of the universe…with his heady visions.

      Skippy…looking at the spline of his “lexus and the olive tree book as I type”…shezzzz…reminders.

    2. James

      Well, at least he got the “It Used to be Us” part right. In our defense, did “mother England” foresee their 20’th century plight either? Not that ours is going to be ANYWHERE NEAR that tidy.

      The US “ship of state” is currently dead in the water with a “perfect storm” approaching and all hands below deck comfortably in their bunks. The end is already certain and in sight. Only the actual drowning in our own affluence/effluence remains.

  7. Eureka Springs

    Mr Ferguson didn’t answer the question. Though I am glad the interviewer is trying to ask these questions and NC is trying to post on the subject.

    In addition to the interviews unanswered questions… I have a few more and wonder if readers here can direct me to any good links on the possible answers.

    First… which nations have the least corrupt, most representative system.. say the top five? Are they really fairly free of corruption from the rich?

    What are these best systems designed?

    How are they funded?

    During the early learning curve on health care I learned most by studying the best abroad… I expect we can do much the same with improvements on this issue.

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