January 10, 2013

Bring sunshine to government

It’s tempting to argue, in the wake of President Obama’s victory, powered by more than 4 million small donors, that in fact Big Money can’t buy elections. But this isn’t really true for democracy in America, of course. A tiny, unrepresentative sliver of the population provides the vast bulk of funding for election campaigns. Lobbyists outnumber members of Congress by at least 25 to 1. And despite fresh rhetoric about open government, much of what Washington does with taxpayer dollars is still veiled in obscurity, if not outright secrecy. Consequently, the whole national conversation about issues is tilted far from the concerns of ordinary Americans, with results that are similarly skewed. Ask Americans about the economy, for example, and polls show they want a raise in the minimum wage. But ask politicians, and they’re more focused on the concerns of investors, who want to keep capital gains tax rates low.

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