American-Style Political Corruption in Australia?




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Rich Murray: Stewart Fist: first-rate world social critic 3.27.1
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Policy for sale is an old ploy   Stewart Fist    27 March 2001
One similarity between the Australian and American electoral systems and policy procedures is that both supposedly introduced a taxpayer solution to campaign corruption a few years ago.

Political parties were funded according to their level of electoral support, on the theory that parties would then no longer need go cap-in-hand to companies or unions to fight elections.

This was supposed to clean up the policy-making process, but in both countries it appears to have made it worse.

In Australia, the main difference is that it appears to have cut out union influence in the Labor Party, and increased reliance on corporate generosity.

There has been much discussion in the US about hard money openly given for individual campaigns, and soft money supposedly given to parties for party building activities, rather than election purposes.

In this last election a total of $US3 billion ($6 billion) changed hands, but of course that doesn't include private family fortunes.

Dubya Bush's cabinet is the wealthiest in US history, with 13 millionaires out of 16 members, and one new Democrat senator, the former Wall Street financier Jon Corzine, spent $US62 million of his own money getting elected.

The average senator spend seems to have been about $6 million, and since they face re-election every two years the burn-rate on their Capitol investment is a bit over $US8000 a day.

So senators wanting to be re-elected must, each day, provide services to their backers sufficient to earn top-up donations of this order - and that's just the average.

Obviously, some need much more, so every morning, a few dozen US Senators must start the day planning how they can earn about $40,000 in donations before nightfall.

And if you naively think money doesn't necessarily buy happiness on the Hill, another report shows that the winners spent, on average, 40 per cent more than their losing, major-party opponent.

The winners were just better at fund-raising.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Rifle Association and the Christian Coalition oppose campaign funding reform on the grounds that control of donations would violate freedom of speech.

It's a remarkably similar idea to press freedom (provided you own one). What amazes me about the US system of government is how the Executive and Congress manage to function at all with all these competing payoffs.

It' also amazing that men and women of principle manage to rise above this cesspool of corrupt funding. There are good American politicians, just as there are some good Australian ones.

What keeps our politicians relatively clean by comparison is the Westminster system, with its system of party discipline in both houses. Since members don't stray from the party line, corruption occurs more in the back room, and less with individuals.

One area where the Republicans have a clear advantage in the US is in funding the policy formation and political education processes.

These activities are conducted through hundreds of thinktanks and policy institutes, and such organisations currently spend about $1 billion each year manipulating public opinion.

On the Republican side, many aim to "educate schoolchildren in the values of the free enterprise system", and they distribute propaganda worldwide.

Supposedly, they aren't allowed to lobby and are therefore granted tax-free charity status.

But many act as pseudo-research institutes, churning out "reports" and statistics promoting the corporate line of their funders.

Others provide a haven for lobbyists and political minders temporarily out of a job, while some are little more than laundry services for cash going to scientists and journalists.

Many of the major American thinktanks and institutes now have Australian affiliates, which are beginning to operate in similar ways, and they are probably more influential than you think.


Dr Sifu Crockett has recommended a new book on cancer, THE CANCER CONSPIRACY: What you Must Know about the Worst Plague in human history, written by a New Zealander, Dr Toni Jeffreys, PhD, author of the acclaimed best-selling YOUR HEALTH AT RISK (published by Harper-Collins of London).
I do heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, about CANCER.
It can be obtained by sending your cheque for $A35 to:
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You'll have it in your hands within two or three weeks. 
Recommended! Charles Underwood


Australian Cancer Specialist:
"The Cancer Conspiracy by Dr Toni Jeffreys: A fitting companion to follow our video. Dr Jeffreys manages to write in both a lucid and caring manner that should captivate and educate the medical profession, the general public, and especially the families of those afflicted with this industry-thriving disease. Read it, share the message, and encourage others to read it too! Your life, or that of someone close to you, might depend on it."
For your information, Dr Sifu Gregory James Crocket, a self cured patient himself, is head of the Gorilla Hill Project. The Project is endeavouring to provide easy access for Australians to known disease cures. One of the Project's aims is to build the World's first hospital of Natural medicine for terminal illness, providing free, if not affordable, treatment


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