Greetings, fellow travelers. Now that the election is over, Your Seeker of Truth has given some thoughts on the influence of money. Here I will not be talking just about Citizens United, but about the money that you don't see. Those seeking more honesty need only look below the break
You might have heard that two states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana (MJ) on Election Day. While for some this is a cause for celebration, this leads me to wonder why the measure passed in Colorado and Washington, but did not pass in the most obvious place-California.
One answer is the Beer Lobby, specifically the California Beer and Beverages Distributors association (CBBD). According to HuffPo:
it donated $10,000 to Public Safety First, a committee organized to oppose the proposition, on Sept. 7, 2010, though the contribution was only recently made public.Now you're probably thinking, "Dharma, you magnificent bastard, what is Public Safety First? According to Sourcewatch:
Public Safety First is a committee organized to oppose California's Proposition 19, a measure on the November, 2010 ballot that would legalize adult possession of marijuana, and allow local governments to tax its sale. It operates the Web site NoonProposition19.com. Public Safety First received funds from California's beer industry, which views illicit drugs as competitors and opposes their legalization.Public Safety First represents cops in California. From HuffPo:
The California Narcotics Officers' Association has donated $20,500; the California Police Chiefs Association has contributed $30,000. The Placer County Deputy Sheriff's Association, the California Peace Officers Association, the California District Attorney Association and the Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County have all contributed, as well.
Now, consider this: You're the head of the police department or a sheriffs' office in a rural county and you've got GOP politicians calling for "austerity", which means you've got less money coming in from the taxpayers. So you now have to find other means of making money. You can't just write more tickets. So you have to find another revenue stream, because according to HuffPo:
Police forces are entitled to keep property seized as part of drug raids and the revenue stream that comes from waging the drug war has become a significant source of support for local law enforcement.Can you say, "conflict of interest," boys and girls? Nice try.
Those are the obvious issues with money here, but if you really shine the light down in the darkness, you see something else: Black marketeers.
That's right. You think Black Marketeers aren't going to be affected by this? Why should someone pay 200% more for their product when they can get it cheaper at another location and legally? So they donate money to groups that keep it illegal, because that affects their bottom line.
When Prohibition became the law of the land because of the 18th Amendment, large amounts of revenue were being generated by people on the other side of the law. People like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, and Enoch Johnson (the basis for the fictional character Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire.) They understood fundamentally that if somebody wants something, they are going to do whatever it takes to get it, whether it be gambling, booze, sex or drugs.
So what is The Truth in all of this? I honestly don't know. The right to freedom of speech is a fundamental right that everyone has, regardless if we agree on the content of the speech or not. The right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances is another right. To you and I, they may be opposing the law for self-serving reasons but to them it may be a case of feast or famine.
So again, you might ask, what is The Truth? The Truth from my perspective is this: The only cure for darkness is more light. If money is speech, then we should be able to know who is talking and who is saying what and where. Rather than shining a light in the darkness, the recent Citizens United ruling only deepened the shadows. Transparency is the best solution, so laws that say they must reveal who they are is a good step. Another solution is, as Thom Hartmann so eloquently suggested, to end corporate personhood.
There's been a lot of water under this bridge, but if you want a more detailed analysis consider this article from the Christian Science Monitor, who are one of the better publications out there.
Of particular interest is this:
Opponents tried to fight back, mounting a $543,000 campaign in Colorado, with backing from a Florida-based anti-drug group and an evangelical Christian group.In the end, it still passed. Even though the Oregon Measure 80 failed and was smaller in dollars raised than Colorado and Washington, it still got 47% of the vote.
In Washington, a small group from the medical marijuana community raised $6,800 to oppose I-502. They criticized the DUI standard as arbitrarily strict and said the measure didn't go far enough because it wouldn't allow home-growing.