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America for sale, democracy the loser

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

Ladies and gentlemen, your Congress is bought.

Whether you believe it or not, new evidence continues to pop up in the media, and our representatives continue to provide us with fresh examples of their irrefutable corruption. From our guns to our economics, it is has become increasingly clear that our elected officials no longer serve the will of the people, but the whims of the highest bidders. The notion of politicians being “public servants” is long dead. Now more than ever, the time is nigh for citizens like us to right this quickly sinking ship we call liberty.

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One recent instance of our leaders selling out is the continued deregulation of Wall Street. The U.S. House just passed the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act, which, ironically, repeals regulation passed in 2010 to prevent another meltdown like the one in 2008 caused by the reckless behavior of Wall Street companies. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane, shall we? That was when we, the taxpayers, had to bail out reckless companies like AIG to the tune of $85 billion, simply because Wall Street twisted our government’s arm to.

One of the key elements of Wall Street’s behavior that led to the infamous financial collapse we have yet to truly recover from was derivatives trading. In 2010, Congress passed regulations on this behavior, despite significant efforts by lobbyists to weaken and eliminate it. Now, our representatives have suddenly changed their mind and eliminated those regulations with this bill (Note: All CO reps voted in favor except Diane DeGette).

Perhaps the $22 million they received from interest groups in support of the bill had something to do with it? Could the fact that six of the eight cosponsors of the bill receive the bulk of their campaign funds from the finance industry relate to Congressional integrity in this case? This bill has gathered little attention since passing with bipartisan support. Maybe they didn’t want us to know? Since when does anything pass through Congress these days with bipartisan support?

Another huge example that punctuates the level of corruption prevalent amongst Congress is the invention of Leadership PACS. Congressional leaders created these as a loophole after the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 spelled out that “a member shall convert no campaign funds to personal use.” I guess when you make the laws; you gain a distinct advantage at avoiding them. It’s not like leaders are supposed to set an example of moral and ethical behavior or anything.

According to Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Comission, the money generated from these PACS are essentially political slush funds that can be used for anything, from paying for babysitters to taking one’s family on a vacation. These funds can be used after retirement and after death. For example, after Paul Gilmour died of a heart attack in 2007, his staff took the remaining funding and held a number of dinners and pizza parties, justifying it as part of the “grieving process.”

Some politicians take it a step further, by using this ridiculous breach of ethics to break more laws. While it’s technically illegal to hire family members onto “official” staffing, it’s estimated that at least 75 members of Congress circumvent this by hiring them onto campaign payrolls. Why, Republican Congressman Rodney Alexander shelled out $130 thousand to his two daughters in an election he won against no Democratic opposition.

It is unbelievable that treachery like this is not only allowed in this country, but commonplace. American media is so quick to criticize foreign governments, and yet it fails to acknowledge that our own is corrupt at its core, clearly playing to the interests of banks and big businesses, and crushing the majority of its citizens in the process. Could this be because the media is run by the same massive corporations that lobby the government to stay off their backs?

We’re the flipside of China: instead of having a government-owned media, we have a media-owned government.

There is far more evidence than I can fit in this column that American government has become the property of Wall Street and media corporations. It is clear that urgent action is needed from the American people. Our current leaders cannot be trusted and must be removed.

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Their actions would them fired from any other profession, and possibly jailed.

They have created the holes in our Liberty, and we need to patch these holes immediately. It’s time to drop some ballast.

Sean Kennedy is a freshman undeclared major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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