Is Money All That Matters In Our Democracy?

Time for another Gooberhead Award [Beanie-cap Breakdown]--presented periodically to people in the news who've got their tongues running 100 miles-an-hour...but forgot to put their brains in gear.

Today's Goober goes to Rep. Patrick Tiberi, a Republican congress critter from Ohio. He was up on his hind legs recently giving an impassioned plea for young people to participate in politics. "We are constantly told about the need to get more citizens involved in the electoral process," Tiberi began. "With this bill, we are doing just the opposite," he charged. "We are telling young people, the folks we want to get involved now so they will stay involved years to come, 'no thanks, maybe when you're older'," he wailed.

Was there a bill to prevent children and teenagers from working in campaigns, doing door-to-door leafleting, or talking to people about issues and candidates? No. Every kid should - and still can--participate in all of these grassroots, democratic activities. Tiberi was complaining about a campaign-finance reform bill that closes the loophole that lets parents use their children as a way to exceed the legal limits on how much money they can give to a candidate.

Legally, a person can give only $1,000 to a particular candidate for, say congress. Of course, your spouse can also give $1,000--and it was this familial link that got the more creative funders to thinking: "Why shouldn't Heather and Kimball give $1,000, too?" Never mind that Heather was six and Kimball was four, as long as they had a bank account in their name, mommy or daddy could write out thousand-dollar checks from them to the favored candidates. The youngest known donor was an 18-month old boy who sent a thousand bucks to Bill Clinton.

For Rep. Tiberi, however, stopping these kiddie kontributions "is overkill at its worst," punishing children who simply want to be involved in democracy.

This is Jim Hightower saying...What a fine civics lesson our Gooberhead is giving to children, teaching them that writing a check is what matters in our democracy. What a Goober.


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