Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Here's A Great Question for This Fourth of July: 'How Much Should I Contribute To Political Campaigns?'

Answer: "How much is freedom and liberty and independence worth to you?'

Our recent posting on contributing to political campaigns in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare yielded many interesting and thoughtful responses and comments.

But the most interesting was this:

'I am going to write a check out today.  To whom and how much should it be for?'

That depends.

First of all, it depends on who you want to support.  That is your decision.

It also depends on if you want to support a candidate directly or in one of the independent expenditure campaigns that are seemingly all over the place now, 75% of which are probably doing more harm than good to be honest about it because they are run by people who do not know what they are doing.

But what it really comes down to is this when all is said and done:

'Just how important is it to you to have your candidate elected so he/she can reflect your opinions on the size and scope of government?'

Let's put it in brass tacks so everyone can get a real tangible way to make this momentous decision:
  1. How many homes do you own?
  2. How many country clubs are you a member of?
  3. How many brand-new cars do you own?
  4. How many private schools are your kids enrolled in?
  5. What do you spend on nice clothes each week?  Month? Year?
  6. How many vacations do you take each year? (if you are still so able financially as to do so, that is)
  7. How many fine pieces of jewelry do you own?
  8. How many times per week/month/year do you go out to an expensive restaurant and drop $100-$200+ at a time plus tips?
  9. How many $4.00+ Venti Starbucks coffees do you buy every day? (1 every day adds up to close to $1000/year..add it up yourself)
  10. How many cartons of cigarettes do you buy each year?  Cases of beer?  Fifths of bourbon, scotch or moonshine?
  11. How much extra money do you put in your Escalade SUV's gas tank to burn up at 13 mpg (if you are lucky) instead of a LEAF hybrid or Prius that gets 50-85 mpg?  (That could be the difference between $50-$100 per week or $2500-$5000 per year in gasoline fill-up costs)
Ok, do we have your attention now?

So which one of these 'freedoms to choose' are the 'most important' to you?

Is it the freedom to be able to own as many homes as you want?  Is it the freedom to have your children go to the best possible private schools and colleges in America?  Is it the freedom to get a double espresso macchiato every day on your way to work, at lunch and on the way home? (in which case we hope it is all decaf)

Is it the freedom to work as hard at you want in any given profession or business and then be able to keep most of your hard-earned and risk-taken earnings to do with as you please versus what the Obama Administration wants to do with it in Obamacare and the rest of their agenda or the US Congress when they pass laws telling you what to do?

Whatever the 'most important' thing in your life is to you, that should be the base marker for how much you should contribute to political campaigns and causes.

You could contribute the equivalent of 1 month's mortgage payment on any of your homes...and probably exceed the amount of money contributed by any of your friends and colleagues in total over the past 20 years...collectively.

We are not kidding.

We have done a lot of 'checking' in our previous life on Capitol Hill just by going to this one single website:  www.fec.gov.

The Federal Election Commission webpage for every single individual contribution to a federal candidate or joint committee (meaning for the candidate and the national party) over these past 20 years.

If you ever gave over $200 to any of the following Republican federal candidates for President, Senate or the US Congress, you will be on this list with the full amount displayed for all the world to see: (for folks living in NC-9, it would be Congresswoman Sue Myrick, Senator Elizabeth Dole, Senator Richard Burr, President George W. Bush and failed presidential candidate John McCain in 2008)

And if you did not give any money to support any of them, your name will not show up on that public list.

Again, for all the world to see and notice.

We feel pretty comfortable challenging you to make a list of perhaps 5, maybe 10 of your close friends who talk about politics all the time or who send to you the 'latest' on Barack Obama's birth certificate or a good Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by someone who just 'knows' what it going to happen in the fall elections and then going to this website and add up all their federal contributions over these past 20 years.

In many cases, your largest monthly mortgage payment will be greater than the sum of all of their federal contributions to elect people to the most important elective offices in the land.

In Toto.  Meaning 'all of them'.

Americans are a generous people.  We give lots of money and time to charities and churches and local schools.

However, despite that generosity, less than 4% of all Americans in any given year contribute anything to any federal candidate from POTUS to the Senate to Congress. Meaning $1-$199.

Less than 4%.

Less than 0.5% of the entire population of the United States of America ever give over $200 in any given year to any federal candidate.

Less than 0.5%.

Less than 0.1% of Americans, well-off obviously, give more than $2300 in any given year to any federal candidate.

Less than 0.1%.

That is about 250,000 people across an entire population of 310 million people or perhaps 250 million adults over the age of 18.

There might be 5000 people in the state of North Carolina with a population of close to 10 million people who have given more than $2300 in any given year to any federal candidate.

The limits per couple are twice that per election cycle.  Since there is a primary and a general election each year, that means a couple can give up to about $10,000 in any congressional election to a certain candidate.

Most people give nothing ever to foster the cause of liberty and freedom and free enterprise.

This data is all according to the Americans for Campaign Reform headed by former US Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska (who used to date Linda Ronstadt for those of you who remember her great music in the 70's)

So, now that you know the truth, are you willing to make at least one payment, one contribution to one candidate that equals the amount of 1 month's mortgage payment on one home you may own for the cause of freedom?

Or the equivalent of a bunch of Starbuck's vente coffees for a year?

It really is up to you.  No one is forcing you to do a thing, obviously.

But what would happen if the 50% of the American people who pay 99.4% of all income taxes collected by the US Treasury all of sudden just contributed $200 apiece to any federal candidate?

That would be $22 BILLION going into the campaign coffers of federal candidates, all from people mostly of modest means (110 million income tax-paying households used for illustrative purposes)

That would swamp any amount of money Barack Obama can raise or Mitt Romney for that matter.

And these people would rule the Republic for years to come.


Because no politician would want to rile them by raising their taxes or by being financially profligate as they all have been since 2000 at least.

Campaigns have consequences.  So do campaign contributions.

Are you ready to write your first campaign check in your life to Mitt Romney (or Barack Obama if you wish) or to any of your favorite congressional or senate candidate today on the 4th of July?

Each campaign takes credit cards as well.

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  1. On this point, I am torn.

    On the one hand, your points are absolutely valid: normal people could contribute to political campaigns, money does buy elections, and the big spenders generally do influence policy in the generally-corrupt, kickback / special interests government system we have.

    On the other hand, though, I detest that entire governmental concept, and would be loathe to voluntarily contribute any of my money to validating and propagating it. It may be a pipe-dream, but wouldn't government be fundamentally better if elections weren't purchased? If representatives served the interests of the people, rather than the largest campaign contributors? If our leaders were able to fix the country's problems, rather than spending billions of taxpayers dollars flying around the country campaigning for their next election every day in office, as Obama has? If our leaders were chosen based on the most capable, rather than the most pandering?

    Here's a good thought experiment... pretend that one of the following causes would happen, depending on which got the most campaign contributions:
    - Another "party" politician got elected (either side), and spent another four years screwing up the country while constantly campaigning and pandering
    - Every politician was kicked out of office and barred from ever holding public office again, and we start over with normal people working on real solutions to the country's problems, instead of politics as usual

    Which would you donate to? I know where my money would be going. It's demonstrative of the trust I have in the system as a whole, and why I won't personally be writing that check.

  2. That is a complete dodge, Nick and you know it.

    Thay is like playing on a team and I am doing all the sprints and drills in the hot August sun and getting my head beat in while you sit and lollygag on the sidelines under the shade of an umbrella sipping Arnold Palmers over ice...but you want to share in the victory when we win the state championship.

    Forget it my friend. I don't want you on any team I might be on.

    Pick up the damn oar and start rowing like the rest of us.

    Your argument is patently absurd and ridiculous on the face of it.

    Sorry to be so blunt and angry about it but I am tired of freeloaders riding the backs of the people who 1) run for office or 2) contribute to those who do.

    You fit into the 'freeloader' category unless you do one or the other or both.

    Happy Fourth of July, by the way! You'd feel better about it if you contributed in any small way to saving the Republic, I can tell you that.

  3. You and I certainly have differing opinions about what constitutes a dodge. However, I'm being honest in this: I choose not to contribute to a system I feel is fundamentally broken and corrupt, regardless of what effect that has on the system. I understand that by not "playing the game", I am disadvantaging myself, and the system will do its best to punish people who don't buy into it. Like Hank Rearden, I might be fighting an uphill, and ultimately futile, battle by refusing to capitulate.

    I do not want to "save" a Republic where rights and protections are bought with campaign contributions and sold to the highest bidders. I don't want to support a Republic where freedom and equality under the law are auctioned off every 2/4 years. I'd rather it burn to the ground, and we the people start over.


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