Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Internet Sold Out for Campaign Contributions

Failure to adequately regulate industry has within the last two years led to the collapse of Lehman Bros., the banking system and the U.S. economy as well as the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that British Petroleum is responsible for. The collapse of our financial markets hurt us all and has put about 10% of the labor force out of work, the oil spill in the Gulf is more localized but will harm that locality for as much as a generation. Both the fishing and tourism industries are likely to suffer for years not to mention many species of fish and birds including Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, which was removed from the endangered species list just six months ago.

Now the telecommunications industry wants internet services to be unregulated. This as we’ve so recently seen is a recipe for disaster. The websites that so many of us have come to rely on and enjoy are at risk of being shoved aside by telecommunications companies that seek monopolize control of access and use of the internet in order to maximize their profits. They claim to want to advance innovation when in fact they want to stifle it. Innovation is a messy business that is most often accomplished by small organizations and seldom by monopolies.

The telecommunications industry like the Wall Street bankers and oil industry before them have exerted pressure on our elected representatives. 73 Democrats in the House including Congressmen Henry Cuellar, Ciro Rodriguez and Charlie Gonzalez have submitted to that pressure. You ask what kind of pressure, how about anywhere from $23,000 to $36,750 in campaign contributions.

It is time we had a campaign finance solution that removed the influence of special interests from the equation. It’s time we passed the Fair Elections Now Act, HR 1826, which provides for voluntary public campaign financing. Call you congressman and urge him to support Net Neutrality and co-sponsor HR 1826.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Elections should be won, not bought

About 30 members of, Common Cause and the League of Women voters held a rally in support of the Fair Elections Now Act at Congressman Lamar Smith’s San Antonio office Thursday afternoon. We were there to let the Smith know that we “the People” believe that elections should be won, not bought.

The Fair Elections Now Act would provide public financing of congressional campaigns to candidates who voluntarily participate. This bipartisan bill creates an alternative to big special interest money in politics by allowing congressional candidates to run a viable campaign on public funds and unlimited small contributions from ordinary citizens.

Just think, if our legislators weren’t beholden to unions and corporations for campaign contributions they could actually work for the citizens who elect them. Maine has been incredibly successful with a similar plan for state level legislators with about 80% of them participating in the plan.

Don’t you think that banking reform would be much easier to pass with strong consumer protections and regulations that would prevent the need for future bailouts if our legislators weren’t, as Senator Dick Durbin put it, “owned by the banks”? If you want Congress to work for you and not special interests call your representative today and urge him to co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act, HR 1826.