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Democracy Turns on Corruption

Note: This column was first posted 5 Jan. 2014

At the root of it all, some simple questions emerge: Why should a corporation or a union not contribute in a limited way to a political party, if the sums and sources are rigorously disclosed? And who decided that a $1,200 individual limit is reasonable? Political finance reform was intended to remove the bagman from the process. Instead it has bequeathed to us a system that is dishonest, dysfunctional and ultimately harmful to our politics. It’s time for a review.“excerpt from the article.

The ‘system,’ as the writer puts it, has always been ‘dishonest, dysfunctional, and ultimately harmful.’ It is fundamental to democratic politics; government policy follows money.

It doesn’t matter who donates or how much is donated, politicians owe something back to supporters who put up the money that got them elected. That singular fact begins the corruption that so many posters here decry, as though the party in power invented this situation. It is fundamental to politics and any funding scheme will not overcome it.

Put it this way. Our democracy, such as it is or has been, rests on an irony that honourable government depends on money from individuals and groups who grasp for favours when their favoured party wins an election. This is the source for the hypocrisy and corruption that people find so disturbing in recent years. It is built into democracy and there is no cure for it, unless one is willing to abandon democracy completely.

The laws in place now that somewhat manage donations to political parties spread the corruption around, but they cannot eliminate it. Pigs can’t fly either. Taxation will always benefit the rich more than the poor, government policies will always favour the growth of corporations, and social policies will always be condemned by businesses that profit from low wage labour. Exploitation has always existed and it rests on the essential corruption of government that money makes possible.


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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

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