Money Begets Power Begets Money

Larry Lessig calls campaign fund-raising another form of corruption. It is interesting that in India if it were possible to get special interests to lawfully contribute to the campaign funds of politicians and not their own private accounts, we would probably declare victory against political corruption.

But, if you leave aside the fact that one is pernicious but lawful (the US) and the other is illegal and pernicious, there is little to choose between the two forms of corruption. The Indian version enriches the politician and his family. The primary use of that money is to fight elections (where the funds are used to buy mixer-grinders for the electorate, not TV ads). Money therefore becomes the means to stay in power.

In the US, it is the other way around. Campaign funds are used to fight elections. Once you win there are other legal ways to make money. Like through your spouses.

Ultimately, money and power are both means to ends and ends in of themselves. Whether special interests provide money to the politician or his campaign fund, they corrupt government and weaken democracy.

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2 Responses to Money Begets Power Begets Money

  1. Krishna says:

    It’s time we take a hard look at that outrageously overrated concept of Democracy. Corruption in campaign spending emerges from the need for spending money at all to canvass votes. Why not just go out there and ask people to vote on the basis of what you stand for (if not what you’ve already done for them and desirous of doing)? Democracy has gained undeserved support from the popular belief that the alternative is dictatorship by someone like Hitler, Stalin or Saddam Hussein. One way to get out of this impasse is to realize that it is a matter of degree, let it go and see what else will work. Fear of letting go of democracy is only for people that have something seriously to lose, say the top 5% that own 90% of nation's wealth. Others are simply survivors and they should try an alternative to see where we are headed. Something different, if not better will certainly emerge changing the ugly pecking order that is the status quo.

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  2. nikilmittal says:

    Krishna ,
    Democracy doesnt stop you to do and try anything if you have serious willingness for it atleast in India . If you want to build a socialistic / communist any other sytem within a dominant capitalistic system you are free to do so .

    Why cant you start by motivating a group of 10 and then 100 and then 1000 poor people and try your system which will benifit all . You can start a small ecosystem within the larger system based on your value system and if people like it will grow naturally .

    Democarcy is the natural form of governance it is like extrapolating what people want to be as indiviaduals (Free willing )to a larger scale . Dictatorship is not natural as it means bondage .

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