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Author: eachus Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 10413  
Subject: Re: Political favors article Date: 10/1/2002 3:13 AM
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TMFOtter said: "I am personally of the opinion that corporate contributions to political causes or charities are evil. I don't think that it's evil for either group to *receive* the money, I think that it's wrong of managements to allocate their shareholders' capital in such a way without their consent."

Right on! This is where things can be changed by TMF members and, if it takes some shareholder lawsuits to make it happen, so be it. Every US publicly held corporation should be required to post instantly any political contributions they make. Politicians can be allowed a little more flexibility--post the contribution before the check is deposited. (And of course, if the donation is in cash, instant posting by both is required...) Also it should be obvious that aggregate amounts tell nothing. The information needed is who the money goes to and why. If corporation A gives money to "trade organization" B, which donates money to political party C that funds candidates D, E, F, and G. You either rely on Common Cause or other public interest groups to distribute the credit and blame, or require that the original donor track the money. (I like that option for a different reason...the company--and its stockholders--should know exactly what they are getting for their money. Right now, they often don't.)

This would certainly decrease the acceptance of funds by incumbents who would worry about the damage done just before the next election. In many other cases, neither the corporation or the politician would have anything to appologize for, which is fine. Funds from tobacco companies might stain a politician from California, but be seen as a recommendation by many tobacco farmers in North Carolina. Also, a lot more money would go to opponents of incumbents who take action against the company or its interests. Fine, more money for challengers would make the overall political process more balanced.

Oh, and you notice the real fun thing about this, which is starting to happen already. Corporations giving money to crooked politicians could expect trouble at their annual meetings, and politicians taking money from companies like Enron and Global Crossing would find out that such deals are very much a two way street.

The trick, and it is always the problem when trying to make any organization composed of humans work, is that the responsibility has to go with the authority, and vice-versa. There are lots of ways to do this wrong, but any organization that doesn't have this principle at its core will fail. Right now, politicans are not accountable for money they recieve from corporations, and corporations have been totally uncontrolled in this area. No wonder it has gotten completely out of hand. We have no one to blame but ourselves as stockholders, and ourselves as voters. If we don't hold the politicans and corporate executives accountable, who will?
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