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Corporations’ political influence must be restricted

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
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Corporations’ political influence must be restricted

When talking about who should govern our country, John Jay, one of America’s Founding Fathers, once said: “Those who own it should govern it.” It was true in the 18th century, and it is apparently true today. Money rules, so it does not matter who gets elected.

Unless we eliminate all but publicly funded election campaigns, elected officials have no choice but to serve at the discretion of special interests.

They have more than 30,000 lobbyists nudging them along in Washington. I love that we’re capitalists, but isn’t a democracy supposed to be a representative government? Shouldn’t there be some equalizing mechanism in government? We assume that is what our elected officials are doing, but in truth, that is not possible — not if they want to get re-elected. Maybe that explains why Washington is so broken.

Our government has turned into a legalized Mafia. Few get in without corporate approval and no serious legislation gets ratified without that same corporate approval.

Examples: We have laws that require us to wear seat belts. No disapproval for this one. It hurts no one, saves life and limb, and corporate America profits from it. But a publicly funded health-care option that we would pay for — just like we’d pay for any other health insurance policy? No way. Insurance company lobbyists went to work on this one until it disappeared.

Banks balk at regulations and look where it’s gotten us. We need to regulate entitlements at the lower end of society, but we also need to have a check on the entitlements at the top. Elected officials cannot afford to take on that task.

For any chance at winning, candidates need endorsement from the Democratic or Republican Party, which will, in turn, help finance campaigns.

Candidates then start “dialing for dollars.” They cannot win without one hand firmly in the pocket of corporations. Corporate interests may even provide a candidate and finance the campaign.

Elections cannot be won with my few pennies, especially when you consider that the Koch corporate family alone contributes in excess of $4 million. It’s extortion on a grand scale. The only difference between organized government and organized crime is that one is legal and the other is not.

The process is no longer democratic. Citizens get to vote, but participation ends there. A candidate must beg and an incumbent must keep begging. Special-interest lobbyists in Washington tossing hundreds of millions of dollars at candidates and political parties expect something in return. After elections, they go shopping with whomever wins, and rightfully so. They paid for the privilege.

The system has been totally corrupted, and publicly funded campaign financing is the only solution. It’s a simple solution that real citizens united should demand of government. I refuse to believe that all the Founding Fathers agreed with John Jay.

Livia Carroll

Schenectady

Schalmont teacher’s critic took a cowardly way out

I find it ironic that 2012 Schalmont graduate Hayden LaBelle, recipient of the Triple C award (character, courage, commitment) is publicly faulting a teacher for spending a few minutes of a lesson on character education [Oct. 8 letter].

Why now, after graduating in June? Why choose the Gazette to publicly [impugning] Sean Lowery’s character by stating he is making too much money and not fulfilling his job requirements, then demanding the school do something about this? If he truly had a complaint against his teacher, why not speak to him face to face?

As to the integrity of Schalmont’s music program, it has been rated in the top 100 music programs in the country. My seven children graduated from Schalmont and all of them benefitted from the music program. Those who went on to the college level in music were grateful for the outstanding preparation they had. NYSSMA [New York State School Music Association] judges pointedly asked which school they were from because of their excellent performance. Moreover, their training allowed them to perform as college freshmen in music ensembles generally closed to freshmen.

I am not certain why anyone would object to learning about the importance of integrity. Don’t we all desire to deal with people of integrity? I much prefer a few moments spent on good character as opposed to some of the other statements my children have heard from teachers.

Joanne Darling

Rotterdam

Santabarbara, county right to back electric cars

It is nice to see the Schenectady County Legislature take the lead on efforts to promote electric car use within our county. I commend Legislator Angelo Santabarbara for being the sole sponsor of a resolution seeking a grant to build vehicle charging stations in the county, and I am glad that he was able to persuade his colleagues to support the measure. Electric cars benefit the environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil and, in this era of exorbitant fuel prices, save serious money.

It is encouraging that the county is moving toward converting a portion of its own fleet of vehicles to electric, as this should produce meaningful savings to the taxpayer. In addition, the installation of charging stations at county facilities to support these vehicles will also benefit citizens who choose to drive electric, since these charging stations will be available for public use as well.

The installation of charging stations at locations such as the central library, SCCC [Schenectady County Community College], Glendale Home and the county office building will also serve to help promote the development of an electric car infrastructure that will support our national effort to increase the number of these energy-efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles on our highways.

I applaud Legislator Santabarbara for his forward thinking.

Patrick J. Saccocio

Schenectady

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