Thursday, November 8, 2012

And the winner is...

Now that the election is over... it's time to answer the big question: Who is the big winner of this election?

And the answer is: The TV and Cable stations.

Yes, not only did the media make every effort to dramatize every issue and instigate trouble (likely in an effort to raise their own ratings), but also to drive advertising revenue higher than it has EVER been in the history of televised election seasons (which, sadly and unnecessarily seem to be getting longer and longer).

According to the Wall Street Journal (8/7/12), "Campaigns, political parties and outside groups are expected to spend some $6.5 billion on television and cable ads for federal and state elections this year, up from $4.8 billion in 2008, according to Borrell Associates, Inc., which tracks local TV and online advertising."

That is not a typo. It says BILLION. With a B.

Check out the website for the National Review. They have a chart that shows the breakdown of spending in just the battleground states. They list spending in each state by the 'official campaigns' of each presidential candidate as well as the spending of the DNC and RNC.

You will also find listed in the breakdown, the spending of the Super Pacs like: Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads, Priorities USA Action, Restore Our Future, American Future Fund, Planned Parenthood Action, Concerned Women For America and Americans For Job Security.

The amount of money is obscene.

In the recent 'Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission' case, the Supreme Court ruled (5 to 4) to reverse a decision by the Montana Supreme Court to remove restrictions on corporate donations. If you are not familiar with how this works, essentially we, as citizens are allowed to donate money to the candidate of our choice, but there is a limit on the dollar amount.

This ruling allows corporations to donate money, anonymously I should add, in unlimited amounts to Political Action Committees who then (theoretically without the consent of the candidate) spend that money on advertising. The problem is that without any oversight it is easy for these Super Pacs to (let's call it) 'stretch the truth' a bit too far. Many of these Super Pacs are classified as 'social welfare' organizations and are exempt from the rules and restrictions of the 'official' committees to elect candidates.

Because there is no oversight and there is so much anonymity, it is easy for the Pacs to get away with their shenanigans. Once the Fact Checkers do their checking... it's too late. The damage is done. And who do you blame? Just some anonymously named Super Pac with anonymous donors! Nobody to pay the consequences of the bad behavior.

To read more about this, see the article in the NY Times (10/27/12 Topics/Campaign Finance article on Super Pacs). Not including the Super Pac money, here is an idea of money raised by the official campaign committees just between January 1, 2012-October 17,2012: Obama Campaign- $1.6 Billion dollars, Romney Campaign- $954 Million dollars.

That's a lot of money.

And that's just the presidential election. All around the country there were hundreds of other candidates raising money for their own campaigns.

For example, here in Massachusetts, a very heated and controversial campaign between Senator Scott Brown and his rival Professor Elizabeth Warren netted some serious money. According to the Boston Globe, Warren raised over $36.3 Million since she entered the race last September. And Brown has raised over $27.45 Million since January 2010.

Again, this is just in Massachusetts. Imagine similar races in every state for Senate, Congress, Governor and even some Municipal candidates. I almost can't even begin to tally all of that money.

So if you are like me... you may be asking yourself, "What's the point?"

Why would someone spend Billions or even Millions of dollars to acquire a job that is likely a demotion in pay than what they are currently making? Here is the salary breakdown: 

  U.S. President: $400,000 Plus an elaborate expense account
  U.S. Congress/Senate: $174,000-$193,400 
  (except the Speaker of the House who makes $223,500)

Does this make sense to anyone?

Did you know that 261 current members of Congress are millionaires? Why would a millionaire pay money to get a job that pays under $200,000 per year? Am I missing something here?

When was the last time you saw an ad for a cigarette company? Not lately. Do you know why? We don't allow it. Those ads were filled with poisonous lies. I would like to propose that we do the same with political ads. There should be automatic fact checks before the ads run on TV. They should only be allowed to say what the candidate would do or believes. They should not be allowed to bash or even mention their opponent. When they screen the ads to see how the public reacts... any ad that scares little children or makes them cry should not be allowed to air.

There was a great spot on the radio about the political ads of days past. They all had these catchy little jingles. It would be a lot less stressful to listen to those ads than the ones that most of you had to endure this political season. I say most of you because I was fortunate enough to miss a lot of them by not watching TV. I get most of my news from the radio and online sources.

And while I'm ranting about integrity in advertising, can we also agree that most of our modern day 'newscasters' would make Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow roll over in their graves?

There should be separate designations for different types of broadcast. The 'talking heads' like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity should be listed as some type of 'editorial or opinion' commentators. And guys like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart should be labeled as 'comedian' commentators or something. These are not newscasters. Sadly, many of the network newscasters fall dangerously close to these designations.

News is supposed to be factual and unbiased. I think real news reporters should be thought provoking and report facts so that, we the people, can make our own opinions.

So now that I have just ranted on... I would like to come to the real point.

All of this MONEY. A LOT OF MONEY!

It seems that everyone is talking about how terrible the economy is. But in my daily travels between appointments, I drive by at least two but sometimes three shopping malls. And for the past few weeks the parking lots are all full. I'm not talking about a little full. I'm saying even on the weekdays the cars are all the way out to the end of the lot, with people driving around trying to find parking spots. How can the economy be so terrible if all of these people are obviously spending money. I mean these cars in the parking lot can't all be 'mall walkers'! (These are the folks who go to the mall, usually before it is open to get their exercise walking around the whole loop of the mall. These are serious people-- do not get in their way!)

But really, here is the bottom line.


We spent that much in 'adverting' to elect a bunch of people to 'get the job done'. But in reality those same people are causing the GRIDLOCK that is our current Congress.

Does anybody see the irony here? 

What could we really accomplish with that $6.5 Billion??

We could give teachers a raise!

We could invest in sports and arts programs at public schools that keep getting cut due to lack of funding.

We could buy bullet proof vests for our soldiers who are going to war without them.

We could put money aside for emergency relief instead of using tax dollars that should be used for other things.

We could hire more First Responders (police, fire, EMT, etc.).

We could help re-educate the jobless and help feed and shelter the homeless.

We could be improving the infrastructure and the environment.

We could be investing in science and technology to eliminate cancer and other life threatening diseases.

Any ideas?

What else could we do to improve our country and enhance the lives of our citizens if we had $6.5 Billion dollars?

 Ready... GO!

 Peace and Love,

 ------- Nick