Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

matter, about the welfare problem, civil rights, dissent, the cities, the 1972 Presidential election and change in general. However, these are the people who have to be convinced; then progress in gun control could very likely follow.


Socialist

Mark Green, James M. Fallows, and David R. Zwick. Who owns Congress?

The influence of big money on government has been a theme of critics ever since the founding of the Republic. Were it not for the sordid tales of bribery and payoffs regularly floating out from behind the Capitol Curtain, scandal columnists would long ago have gone on unemployment compensation. But for all their titillating impact, the crudest forms of bribery are vastly overshadowed as a corrupting influence by a much more sophisticated and widespread practice. Instead of going into the congressman's pockets, the money is instead put in the campaign coffers for the next (or sometimes the previous) election.

Of course, when a big campaign contribution is given in return for an assurance of receiving special treatment, it doesn't matter what the transaction is called. It's still nothing more than good old-fashioned graft in a very thin disguise. But who needs to extract a promise from a politician if spending enough money at election time can put a "reliable" man into office? Or better yet, if spending enough money at primary election and nominating time can ensure that all the surviving candidates by the time the general election rolls around are "reliable." Whether campaign contributions buy an entire election or favored treatment or simply special access to politicians, they are the main reason why the rich men who make them get richer while the average citizen gets what little is left over.


Expensive merchandise

Part of the problem is inflation. Like meat, congressmen have risen in price. As the cost of U.S.-Prime political influence has soared, casual buyers have fled the market and left it to the truly rich or the corporate purchasers. Expenses weren't always so high. In the election campaign of 1846, friends of Abraham Lincoln collected a fund for his first try for Congress. The $200 they scraped together would barely cover one week's phone bills for a modern candidate. But at the end of the campaign, Lincoln returned $199.25 of it. The rest had gone for his one campaign expense, a barrel of cider for local farm hands.

Honest Abe might have spent the rest of his life chopping rails if he'd tried the same thing much later. The turning point for campaign expenses came with the Civil War. As the newly powerful corporate empires began to buy political favors--and as the politicians of the time showed themselves willing to be bought--competition pushed the prices up. The mounting expense, however, did not curb demand, since the companies saw the hard business advantage of friendly politicians. In 1903, a Standard Oil agent (who was himself a member of Congress), screening a "loan request" from a senator, wrote to the company's vice-president John Archbold, "Do you want to make the investment?"

The return on investments like this was a Congress increasingly populated with men like Senator Boies Penrose. Penrose was a Pennsylvanian, a Republican, and a devoted glutton.1 But his deepest allegiance was to the welfare of Corporate America. He explained his philosophy of economy and life to a group of his business beneficiaries: "I believe in a division of labor. You send us to Congress; we pass laws under . . . which you make money; . . . and out of your profits you further contribute to our campaign funds to send us back again to pass more laws to enable you to make more money." A good operating guideline, he once confided to an associate, was to work on "legislation that meant something to men with real money and let them foot the bill" (as when Ar

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Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One 15
  • 1 - Where Do I Stand? 17
  • Conservative 21
  • Conclusion 28
  • Socialist 44
  • Notes 46
  • Part Two 57
  • 2 - The Presidency 61
  • Conservative 67
  • Socialist 79
  • Notes 85
  • 3 - The Pentagon 101
  • Conservative 107
  • Socialist 117
  • 4 - The Secret Police 133
  • Conservative 139
  • Socialist 152
  • Notes 160
  • Part Three 167
  • 5 - Elite Clubs and Associations 169
  • Conservative 173
  • Notes 184
  • Notes 192
  • 6 - Multinational Corporations 209
  • Conservative 213
  • Socialist 221
  • Notes 244
  • 7 - Organized Crime 257
  • Conservative 259
  • Socialist 264
  • Part Four 283
  • 8 - Congress 285
  • Conservative 289
  • Socialist 296
  • Notes 303
  • 9 - The Courts 315
  • Conservative 319
  • Socialist 330
  • Notes 337
  • 10 - Regulatory Agencies 347
  • Conservative 349
  • Socialist 361
  • Notes 369
  • Political Parties 385
  • Conservative 387
  • Liberal 396
  • Conclusion 410
  • 12 - Academia 413
  • Conservative 416
  • References 427
  • Notes 434
  • Part Five 449
  • 13 - The Media 451
  • Conservative 453
  • Liberal 467
  • Notes 474
  • 14 - Banks 483
  • Conservative The Great Banking Retreat. 485
  • Socialist 489
  • Notes 497
  • 15 - Unions 511
  • Conservative 513
  • Notes 519
  • A Critical Issue 537
  • 16 - The Economic Crisis 539
  • Conservative 542
  • Socialist 544
  • Notes 550
  • Part Seven 557
  • 17 - Political Programs 567
  • Louis Banks. the Mission Of Our Business Society. 568
  • Ralph Nader and Donald Ross. Toward an Initiatory Democracy. 576
  • Stanley Aronowitz. On Organization: A Good Party Is Hard to Find. 581
  • Mass Parties and Reformism 587
  • Notes 596
  • Fred R. Harris. Up With Those Who'Re Down. 602
  • Part Eight 613
  • Appendix 621
  • Note 644
  • Index 649
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