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       FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, FEB. 24, 2012
       Just about everyone envies the opulent lifestyles of the stratospherically wealthy, no matter how decadent. So let’s not dismiss the “Politics of Envy” accusation, even though it is meant to deflect attention from the excesses of the super-rich and from the “class warfare” they conduct against the rest of us.
       It’s not their money we begrudge them, per se -- it’s their shameless greed. So if we can’t join ’em, beat ’em.
       They make it easy to trash them when they flaunt a system that is supposed to ensure everyone a decent chance at the “pursuit of happiness.” It’s not true that money can’t buy happiness; of course it can. That bromide is a myth promoted by the people who want to take yours. And the flagrant abuses of those who do so make another myth out of democracy.
       The “Super PACs” are glaring examples. They allow the bloated ones to finish the job of taking over a country that is supposed to belong to all of us. To paraphrase Will Rogers, what we have now is a government that’s “the best that money can buy.”
       What flimsy election laws we had at least put some limits on the amounts an individual or corporation could donate -- weak restraints, but at least these token efforts required that these self-serving benefactors would be identified.


Now, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which can be charitably called misguided, the new Super PAC concept has been conjured up, and the cash flow, mostly from the unidentified mega-wealthy, has turned into a flood.
       In order to maintain the ruse that they are not just campaign funds by another name, these entities are, according to the law’s restrictions, prohibited from coordinating with their favored candidates in any way.
       Yeah, right. If you believe that they don’t find easy paths around that stipulation, see a therapist immediately.
       The people who run these operations usually are fresh off the staff of the particular candidates they support, and now they have a new, paying job running these charades. The attack in the barrage of TV ads they finance perfectly track with their favorites’ messages.
       What is most obnoxious is that with so few limits and so much secrecy about their financial supporters, these shadow entities are now raising and spending more money than the candidates themselves. And if you don’t suspect they will want something in return when their guy wins, then don’t bother with that therapist - you’re beyond help.
       The names of a few of these high-roller players are well-known -- a slew of hedge-fund manipulators for Mitt Romney, a casino operator and pro-Israeli hard-liner for Newt Gingrich and for Rick Santorum, a social conservative who told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that he longs for the past, when the preferred contraception was an aspirin, held by a woman between her knees. A bad joke.
       What is definitely no laughing matter is the wealth all these funders have: lots of it, and an agenda to stop government from getting in the way of their making more. They want to buy a society without common-sense restraints on their wheeling and dealing and that allows them to avoid paying their reasonable share of taxes, hoarding more than they should at the expense of everyone else.
       In the process, they are stealing the American dream. The claim that anyone has an opportunity to start from scratch and create success is reduced to accidental rarity, each exception well-publicized but still the exception. The idea that we are all in this together is widely viewed as laughable given a reality where the underfunded are crushed by the overfunded.
       These Super PACs provide another mechanism for the takeover to be completed, leaving a country with two classes, rich and poor, where the politics of envy continues to escalate into anger. This arrangement undercuts the popular allegiance to a government that is supposed to represent everybody. The shortsighted few who are trying to buy all the control are causing a national disintegration that’s out of control.
       ©2012 Bob Franken
       Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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