Wealth and Politics

Individuals with serious wealth can have an impact on local ballot measures. Sometimes they put their money to good use.

Billionaire George Soros spent $1.4 million to support California’s Proposition 5, which would expand drug-treatment programs and apply new restrictions on sending paroled drug offenders back to prison for parole violations.

Sometimes they don't.

Nevada millionaire Loren Parks has spent $3 million on this year’s state election–partly to fund ballot measures designed to get tougher on criminals and to shift a portion of the state’s lottery proceeds to law enforcement.

This Wall Street Journal story examines multimillionaire spending on ballot issues and asks: "Is all this billionaire-backed politics democratic?" What do you think?

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    The accumulation of wealth (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Faust on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 06:03:12 PM EST
    and the fact that wealth ultimately = speech via lobbying and media purchasing is precisely the reason that it is critical that money be re-distributed via progressive taxation.

    I don't like ballot initiatives. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 07:54:02 AM EST
    I saw what Proposition 13 did to the California public school system.  It is too easy to confuse the public into voting against their own best interests and the US Constitution as well.

    One of my close friends who is very smart and well educated voted in favor of one of the CO ballot initiatives in '06 because the way the description was written at the voting booth it read to her in the heat of the moment as being something that she agreed with - she had not done independent research before hand because she wasn't aware that the initiative was going to be on the ballot.  It is just too easy to confuse people and these initiatives when summarized aren't always as advertised.

    Then you have the anti-gay marriage type inititatives which play to base emotions and are in conflict with American constitutional principles.

    The question of whether something is "democratic" is actually too broad.  We have a brand of democracy and a democratic system that we've established which is built around a representative government.  Cherry-picking issues that the people get to weigh in on while leaving others to legislatures is exactly the kind of thing that can be easily manipulated by a hand full of puppet masters.

    Maybe I'd support ballot initiatives if there was a way to improve the system and really inform every voter who votes on these, but I'm not sure there really is a way to do that.

    About Loren Parks (none / 0) (#1)
    by caseyOR on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 04:56:25 PM EST
    He lives in Nevada, but he spends his money supporting g0d-awful ballot initiatives in Oregon. He has a couple of right-wing lackeys here,( Bill Sizemore and Kevin Mannix, I mean you) , who make a very comfortable living proposing horrible ballot initiatives. And then reasonable people have to spend time and $$$ fighting their nonsense. Every election they try to lard up the ballot with all kinds of right-wing cr@p.

    The good thing is that most of their initiatives fail. The bad thing is that fighting them sucks up enormous resources that could be spent elsewhere.

    Loren Parks and his lackeys make a mockery of the initiative system.

    While the Parks backed.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 05:04:19 PM EST
    initiative is most troubling, the Soros backed initiative sounds sweet.

    As long as us proles get to vote on 'em, sounds democratic to me.  I mean, as long as there is money, money will influence politics...way of the world.

    Ellen is making a commercial for prop 8 (none / 0) (#4)
    by nycstray on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 06:55:05 PM EST
    along with other celebrities stepping up

    Hopefully that will have more influence than money as the yes campaign has out raised the no campaign by 10 million. Wish I was in CA to vote.