New Mexico Politics

Steve Fischmann

December 12, 2011

Folks from both the political left and right are understandably furious. The lion’s share of our national wealth and income is increasingly concentrated in the hands of 1 percent of the population while the ranks of the poor continue to grow – almost 25 percent of our children live in poverty – and the middle class sees less opportunity in its future than at any time since the Great Depression.

Everywhere we look, the game appears to be rigged. Large corporations receive huge subsidies and often pay no taxes, while bad actors at banks and on Wall Street not only go unpunished for misdeeds that brought our economy to its knees, but continue to earn hefty bonuses. Sweetheart government contracts are uncovered everywhere we turn and most of the largess winds up in the hands of big campaign contributors. Money’s corrupting influence on politics is impossible to ignore.

Working inside the system as a state senator, I can confirm that the game favors wealthy interests in a thousand ways both large and small. It’s not just the huge giveaways that are outrageous; it’s the Rube Goldberg contortions of law that have been put in place to protect them. You don’t need to read Catch 22 to appreciate this sampling of doozies:

  • Laws that prohibit disclosure of the size of specialized tax breaks to specific corporate taxpayers. Our government can give the money away, but is mysteriously barred from telling us who’s getting how much.
  • A law prohibiting cash-strapped Medicare from negotiating reduced prices from fabulously profitable pharmaceutical companies.
  • Health-care reform that purports to protect the public from private insurance abuses by requiring folks to buy private health insurance!
  • Laws that leave consumers paying the hefty legal and administrative costs utility companies incur when they file to raise your rates – even when the rate hike request is substantially reduced!
  • Laws that allow corporations producing genetically modified seed to sue a farmer for patent infringement if that seed accidentally blows onto his land.
  • Exemptions from basic water protection regulations for fracking operations by oil and gas drillers. I cannot think of any other industry where regulators have decided an inherently risky process is so perfect that it requires no monitoring at all!
  • And underlying it all, campaign finance and lobbying laws so full of loopholes that big money is driving our politics more than ever before.

Read the entire article, here.

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