Occupy Wall Street: How Cash Has Corrupted Congress
It’s always been about the money. Occupy Wall Street chose to set up its 24-hour outpost of political dissent on the doorstep of the finance industry primarily to underscore the simple fact that money has corrupted our political process so completely that the seat of power in the U.S. isn’t even in Washington, D.C. any more. That said, the Capitol continues collecting its cut, as evidenced in this week’s double-barreled dispatches, in the Washington Post and the New York Times, on the exploding wealth gap between our ever-more affluent representatives in Congress and the financially flat-lined citizens they represent.
From its inception, OWS has focused on the concept of legalized bribery, as the continually rising cost of a political campaign—an average of $1.4 million for a successful House run, up fourfold in real dollars since 1976, and nearly $10 million for a Senate seat—has been largely subsidized by wealthy donors, corporations and special interests, in return for legislation that favors their interests. It’s a form of regulatory capture that most first-world democracies outlaw as corruption, but that Americans know as “the way things are,” along with “ask your doctor” pharmaceutical ads and campaigns pitching products directly to young children. The result is an almost total lack of confidence in our elected officials, as reflected by Congress’ almost impossibly low 9 percent approval rating.
Even insider-trading laws don’t apply to our lawmakers, despite their regular access to valuable market information Joe Citizen will never hear, not to mention their power to tilt markets and pick winners and losers by removing a sentence from this piece of legislation, or adding a clause to that one.