HIGHTOWER: Money Talks

The Congress of the United States, in all of its majesty, recently rejected all efforts to stop the corrupting flood of corporate campaign contributions that's drowning our democratic process.It would almost be OK if this gang of thieves, led by Loudspeaker of the House Newt Gingrich, had at least made their stand honestly, admitting that the current corrupt system keeps them in office, and that they would be more likely to amputate their own right leg with a dull knife as to cut-off this flow of money. Instead, they insulted us by trying to pose as Statesmen, asserting that campaign contributions are simply the way people today express themselves politically. Believe it or not, they said that restrictions on giving money to politicians amounts to a restriction on the People's right to free speech.Free speech? Holy Thomas Jefferson! If money is "speech," then consider how loud Amway Corporation's voice is in Washington. In April 1997, its chief honcho gave a cool million dollars to the Republican Party. Just a few months later, Newt's Republican Congress gave Amway a special tax loophole worth as much as $280 million dollars. That's not "free" speech ... it's bought-and-paid-for speech!How loud is your voice in this system of money-equals-speech? Only four percent of us Americans are in the political-contributor class at all, meaning that 96 percent of us are total non-entities in the money game that Washington politicians depend on. But in Washington, you don't count unless you give a thousand bucks or more. Is that you? Probably not. Only 165,000 Americans -- six-one-hundredths of one percent of our population -- give as much as a thousand dollars to candidates or parties.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Do the math yourself -- if we let them say that money equals speech ... 99.94 percent of us are voiceless.

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