Legislators and their greasy palms

To see what’s wrong with our campaign finance laws, a recent investigation by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo was instructive.

Reporter Peter Sur found that in the first six months in 2010, the seven Big Island House members up for re-election, all Democrats, raised $112,586.77 from O’ahu donors, political action committees and labor unions based off-island.

Most telling were the donations to Rep. Robert Herkes, who represents the sprawling rural district that encompasses Ka’u and parts of Puna and Kona and had $50,604.28 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

The 45 donors giving more than $100 to Herkes during the period included 37 individuals from O’ahu, one from Kauai and three corporations. The four Big Island donors were all from Hilo, which isn’t in Herkes’ district.

He got $1,600 from HMSA Employees PAC; as House consumer affairs chairman, he’s sponsored legislation benefiting the medical insurer and at one time took sharp criticism for having an HMSA executive embedded as an intern on his staff.

You don’t need $50,000 to run a House race in Ka’u, and the economically struggling district derives no benefit from having its representative so deep in the pocket of off-island interests.

That kind of money serves one purpose — scaring off potential opponents who can’t compete financially, thus preserving the seats for incumbent legislators who are reliable votes for the special interests.

It certainly worked in this case. Herkes is one of the few Democratic representatives who have no Republican opposition and faces only little known and under-financed  Libertarian Fred Fogel and nonpartisan Johnathan Able.

Legislators have consistently refused to reform this corrupt system that props them up so nicely; if anything they’ve moved in the opposite direction.

Until constituents demand changes with their votes, we’ll have a bought-and-paid-for Legislature that serves special interests — including their own — ahead of the public interest.

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30 Comments on “Legislators and their greasy palms”

  1. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha David ~
    Wow, incredibly cynical today, aren’t we? Have a tough weekend?

    1) You wrote, You don’t need $50,000 to run a House race in Ka’u …

    I didn’t realize we had a policy in our state or this nation of dictating to candidates how much they should spend in elections? Who decides? You, me? This is a very dangerous intrusion on political speech.

    2) You wrote, The 45 donors giving more than $100 to Herkes during the period included 37 individuals from O’ahu, one from Kauai and three corporations.

    I could have been one of those donors. My home is Kaua’i and I have an interest in supporting legislators outside my districts on Kaua’i as well on other islands. If a legislator on the Big Island (or O’ahu or Mau’i) consistently votes in a manner not in the best interest of Kaua’i, I would work – volunteer time or donate money – to help elect a replacement. You seem to want to prevent citizens from doing this. That is seriously flawed political thinking and runs counter to the provisions of our Constitution.

    3) You wrote, the seven Big Island House members up for re-election, all Democrats, raised $112,586.77 from O’ahu donors, political action committees and labor unions based off-island.

    In addition to what I said in #1 and #2, Peter Sur’s original article pointed out that, Republican Scott Henderson, who seeks Evans’ seat, reported collecting $4,000 from Kurt Brouwer, president of a California investment firm, and his wife Claire.

    Since you have a problem with candidates receiving off-island funding, I would think you would be even more offended about candidates receiving money from the MASSIVE island about 2,500 miles to the east.

    A*L*O*H*A

    p.s. the other day you criticized me for name-calling. Legislators and their “greasy” palms, you write??? Humm … indeed, very cynical position!

  2. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    Come on, Dave. “Greasy Palms?”

    Sure, Herkes raised a lot. However, he’s also a veteran legislator who’s also quite adept at what he does – in other words, he’s effective. Over the years, he’s dealt with a lot of people across the staet who apparently like him for that, so of course they will donate. I don’t think you can start calling him names for that.

    As for his own district, the guy cares a lot about what goes on there. He’s done much to champion the case for mobile medical vans, water problems, and mitgation for the effects of vog just to name a few. And I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to him, but he is absolutely passionate about those issues. More so than most other elected officials care about anything in their own districts.

    To say that the amount he’s raised is the reason why he’s not challenged in this year’s election – I’d say it’s just as much his campaign war chest as his reputation among his constituents. Why don’t you go ask the Republican party why they didn’t field a candidate?

    Anyway, sorry Dave, I don’t usually buck heads with you, but I think you’re off base on this one. At the very least, I don’t think Herkes deserves this write-up.

  3. ppcc Says:

    Dave:

    Unfortunately most Hawaii residents cannot or choose not to fathom the cause and effect consequence of our elected representatives and their intimate connections to special interest. Construction, government, teachers unions’, HMSA, HECO, etc. the list goes on. That is why our electricity and health insurance bills continue to increase while our elected reps do NOT provide any meaningful legislation to address the core problems that Hawaii residents face, and that is give Hawaii residents viable alternatives to the absolute stranglehold that these special interest companies/organizations have on Hawaii residents. I have been mentioning for years that elected reps have been wasting valuable time and taxpayer’s monies in their sham B S energy initiatives such as the HECO led interisland undersea power cables for massive windmill or wave farms on Molokai or Lanai. The most effective program that our elected reps can do for Hawaii residents is create a photovoltaic program for current Hawaii residents, business owners, etc; similar to the State’s solar heater program. As it stands such a program has been stalled in State gov’t. Yes, there are federal and possibly state tax credits for installing PV systems on your own but it is haphazard and you must do your own thorough research with the technology, local PV companies and you must have serious up front capitol before you even begin thinking about installing such a system. Also the PUC has not cleared up the net metering where if you own a large areas of land that can generate lots of electricity, they would not be able to send all of the excess electricity back to HECO without incurring a penalty or other red tape issues.

    I am not as familiar with the health insurance situation in Hawaii but do know HMSA has a basic monopoly in the State of Hawaii & State reps, such as Herkes are in no rush to address this issue.

    Regarding mass transit, with Mufi and company claiming rail will provide traffic relief for Oahu commuters and get people out of their cars, was just in the news City transportation executives plan on building a new office for themselves near the police station AND an NEW City parking structure so they can have exclusive parking for their PERSONAL vehicles. Obviously they have no faith on their train to nowhere to provide them with a transportation alternative but they continue with their BS spiel on how great rail will be on Oahu. Why doesn’t the Star Adertiser do an interview with Las Vegas officials and residents regarding their 4 mile elevated train built by Parsons/Bombardier (same clowns that will built Oahu’s train) is BANKRUPT to the tune of 1/2 to 1 BILLION dollars?. Unlike LV taxpayers who are NOT directly responsible to pay for the LV train debt, Hawaii taxpayers will be FULLY responsible on paying for ALL depts and costs incurred by the Oahu train. Why our elected City and State reps not asking about the cost issues of Oahu’s rail and only Lingle is questioning whether Mufi’s rail can be afforded in Hawaii? Except for Panos* all of elected reps from Carlisle, Neil, Duke, Say, Hanabusa and all of the rest of their minions are blindly following the Oahu gravy train as that is another source of serious $$$$$$ for them.

    PS
    * I don’t where Panos got the idea of floating nuclear reactors but my God, don’t go there. If he wants a alternative energy platform, go with what I suggest and work toward the City/State wide PV program and NOT interisland power cables or wave generators that will destroy Oahu’s world renowed surf spots. If he wants to talk about nuclear energy in Oahu’s future, he can talk about FUTURE safe, compact, portable nuclear breeder reactors based on the nuclear reactors powering US subs (ie many stationed in Hawaii) & aircraft carriers and when the time is right and approved by the US nuclear regulatory commission, the Oahu/Hawaii can begin talks with the US military in Hawaii in installing such future portable nuclear reactors ON secure military land in Hawaii and NOT floating in the ocean. Like the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, the issue is not distance, rather accessibility and to make sure any nuclear reactor is idiot proof that would eliminate the Chernobyl or 3-mile island type of nuclear disasters that were caused by human error

    PS2
    Sorry about occasional thread drift but I notice almost all Star advertiser articles that even are mildly related to local politicians have public comments disabled.

  4. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    I will not comment on this particular individual other than to acknowledge that I do not speak to him nor do I contact his office on any legislative business.

    BTW – don’t forget he originally was appointed to the State Senate and ran for the County Council as a Republican way back mid-1980s before first running for the State House as a Democrat in 1990.

    And no, switching parties is not why I don’t have anything to do with him. I work on energy/enviro legislation with Mike Gabbard, another Party switcher, because it’s necessary to do that.

    On consumer protection stuff, there have been numerous committee members over the years with whom I’ve had dealings. Fortunately, consumer protection mattters are not issues I’ve had to deal with on a regular basis.

    However, I do want to express my support for publicly-financed elections. David, you might want to take the time to talk to Kory Payne who now heads Voter-Owned Hawai`i about the upcoming pilot public funding project for the Big Island County Council. If you need Kory’s contact information, please send me an e-mail. I’m somewhat involved here on O`ahu with the organization, but I don’t really have the time to spend on the issues the way that several other organizations have done such as Common Cause.

    Unfortunately for us voters, money drives all elections. Here in Windward O`ahu, I expect that at least half a million dollars will be spent by November 2 on the two Senate races (Districts 24 & 25) and four of the five House seats (District 47, 48, 49 & 51). House District 50 is held by Cynthia Thielen who is unopposed once again.

    Who will benefit? Printers, campaign consultants, media businesses, t-shirt companies, catering outfits, lei makers, to name just a few businesses.

  5. David Shapiro Says:

    I’m not so sure who’s the cynical one here, me or the ones who think it’s OK for our elected officials to be bought and sold like the ladies on Kuhio Ave. The Legislature changed the campaign law to limit out-of-state donations in statewide races like governor to 20 percent of the total. You’d think the same principle would apply to out-of-district donations in legislative races if there were any principles at work here. As for the greasy palms, I’m not the first to compare this campaign financing system to legalized bribery.

  6. ppcc Says:

    David:
    Agree 100% but I think the politically correct statement is:

    =============
    “…it’s OK for our elected officials to be bought and sold like the ladies AND MEN on Kuhio Ave.”

    ============

    Actually this is a serious issue as it was in the news a few weeks ago some mother from South Dakota was “sold” from one pimp to another and ended up as a prostitute on the streets of Waikiki. This subject is completely relevant as the Sou brothers of Aloun farms convicted of maintaining SLAVES on their farm and ex Hawaii governors Cayetano & Waihee writing letters to the judge for a lenient sentence for the Sou brothers. You can trace politically related $$$$$ to that show of B S support for those two convicted felons.

    Bottom line, until elected officials are held accountable when they cross the line of receiving, taking and/or extorting money to further their careers or agenda, this will continue in Hawaii and elsewhere. Will see how the Blagojevich trial turns out and still waiting for Rod Tam to be indicted for theft. If joe q. public did what Tam had done with taxpayer monies, he would already been indicted. Let Tam tell his side of the story where a jury of his PEERS should decide whether he criminally stole up to $50K of taxpayer monies OR he is just made innocent “math errors”. Add the case of the low level Honolulu City parking manager, who stole close to 1/2 million dollars will get NO jail time and you wonder why Hawaii and other politicians keep on skirting or outright ignoring campaign laws to rake in special interest money, jobs & perks?

  7. Michael Says:

    Money talks.
    Give charity money, it is a donation.
    I expect nothing in return.

    I give donation to a Candidate, I expect a multi million contract job awaiting me or a job in house. I want something in return.
    Donation? Only if nothing is expected in return and because I am charitable.

    Just forget my illegal parking ticket. How much is the Policemans Ball? You get a Shopo sticker.
    Get out of Jail free.
    Unless one can just give away money. A donation?

    I bet many who give their 2 cents expect something in return.

  8. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha David ~
    In January 2010 the activist U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts struck down the decades-old limitations on corporate and union spending in elections and turned our political system to a financial free-for-all – see Citizens United v. FEC.

    I’m not a constitutional expert but Hawai’i’s limitation on contributions may fall under this new principle as well. The First Amendment’s explicit ban on government limitation of political speech is a broad and complex restriction.

    Yet it is cynical to claim our elected officials are bought and sold like the ladies on Kuhio Ave. That is an irresponsible statement from a community leader and professional like yourself.

    On the other hand, most participants here will agree campaign finance laws should be amended. There are a few excellent suggestions but nothing seems to be gaining traction.

    I have greater respect for your positions when you drop blanket accusations and focus on FACTS – show us how campaign donations have led to corruption and public mismanagement.

    Campaigns cost money. They also generate a sizable amount of revenue for small businesses, per the comments by Capitol-ist/WassupDoc. TV, radio and media networks reap the benefits of campaign cash as well. WTF??? Are you telling us America runs on money? First time we’ve heard that … NOT!

    Unless I’m mistaken, our elected officials are hired to represent their constituency – this by definition is a special interest. All politics are local, as Newt Gingrich stated; all politics are personal, as amended by Nancy Pelosi. Those of us who donate to candidates do so because we expect something in return. For example, I donate to a major candidate here. I sacrifice our household’s limited cash because I expect this candidate, if elected, to be a strong environmentalist, push legislation that helps middle class families, and provide for strong schools.

    There’s nothing evil about this process. S/he may be in or outside my district but these are legitimate community goals. If the elected candidate doesn’t perform, s/he will get neither my cash nor vote next time around. We support candidates with both our dollars during campaigns and pencils at the ballot box.

    On the other hand, whether I donate a dollar or a million, if I expect a personal favor – particularly if this is a quid pro quo request under the table – I believe we agree the spirit of our democracy has been assaulted.

    It is cynical to issue a blanket condemnation of ALL politicians and the corrupt system as you say. These type of whispering campaigns do nothing to improve our democracy and only polarize our electorate. A better approach would be to offer an alternative.

    Let us hear your proposal for campaign finance reform …

    A*L*O*H*A

  9. Michael Says:

    NO money, NO honey!
    You want something it will cost you.

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    ScottG,

    1) I’m not whispering, I’m speaking quite out loud.

    2) It was Tip O’Neill, not Newt Gingrich, who said all politics is local.

    3) If we can’t stop corporate cash and other special-interest money from controlling elections, I favor publicly financed elections. It would be expensive, but no more so than paying for our current pay-to-play system with contracting policies and laws that have to satisfy those who put up the campaign cash. Look at what happened to health care reform.

  11. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha David ~
    Thanks for the correction. Whispering isn’t simply speaking softly – it’s writing without facts. You imply these officials are corrupt. You write that Herkes raises HUGE cash. So what? Where’s the corruption? What are you suggesting?

    About public financing, you say, It would be expensive …

    Isn’t this always the case for excellence? We play the same numbers game with education and public services. Thus, we accept were not perfect. Yet not perfect is a long way from corrupt. Money equals influence. We all know this. And, money/influence is checked by money/influence. That’s what the Robert’s court confirmed.

    This philosophy starts at the top and permeates the entire system. It seems you’re trying to hold locals to a higher standard.

    While that appears admirable, you disadvantage the little guy. Rich people can finance their own campaigns; they have more robust connections.

    You could cap spending – but the rich will claim you’re obstructing their voice. I think one simply must focus on the illegal or unethical. Is this what you are claiming?

    A*L*O*H*A

  12. shaftalley Says:

    i don’t give money to politicians or political parties.i decided last year not to donate.i used to send money to the national Libertarian party on the mainland.they kept asking me for more and more.it just seemed hopeless.i want the party to make it on their wonderful ideas.and people are taking a look.i do occasionaly donate to a private libertarian university in auburn,alabama.they have so many mind-blowing classes on economics and markets that are not mainstream and statist.we voters need to explore the alternatives to thepresent election process.it’s the right thing to do.

  13. hipoli Says:

    Sorry, boys and girls, Im with Dave on this one. Though he probably didnt need to pick on only Herkes and the obvious love-affair hes got going on with HMSA, it is a glaring example of whats gross about our entire system.

    Try getting a bill passed that HMSA doesnt want. Try getting a bill killed that HMSA does want. Good luck with that because its next to impossible. They have the wheels so greased, across the Legislature, BP calls HMSA when they are running short on supplies.

    The point is if its clients like HMSA, HEI, Hawaiian Air, anything that Red or John represent, anything Bob T represents, or anything Linda C-T represents, then it will probably get through or killed, depending on their druthers.

    I could name a good handful of bad bills passed over they years that absolutely should not have been passed or, on the opposite side, were passed that were hurtful and put us at various risks, but the legislative action taken simply was a result of these special interests and their financial influence.

    I wish there was a way to make it so these guys could run a decent campaign without all this legal bribery.

  14. WooWoo Says:

    Dave-

    Please allow me to do some amateur journo-musing here…

    People like you and Ian Lind occupy a very nebulous area in the blogosphere. Because you are both dudes with serious journalistic street cred, you often get held to a higher standard than joe-shmoe blogger. Part of the problem, IMHO, is that both you and Ian meander back and forth between posts that at one end of the spectrum are “print-quality” reporting, and on the other end are nothing more than “Boy, isn’t so-and-so just an @ss?” Today’s post is kind of in the middle, which makes it most likely to attract detractors.

    I understand that part of the point of the blog is that is more free-form, and I enjoy all flavors of your posting. But it occurred to me as I perused the comments today that you get more guff because you shift gears a lot here.

    Similarly, Ian took a potshot at Mufi today. One day, serious investigative journalism. The next, rah-rah Neil. Hey, it’s his blog, I enjoy reading it. But it keeps some people confused. They can’t adjust expectations and standards quick enough. (I roll with it ’cause I ain’t got no standards)

  15. hipoli Says:

    woowoo – its a blog. get over what you think the standards are. this is the low-rent district youre hangin’ in now.

    Dave knows when he’s gone overboard, I assure you. But otherwise, you arent writing the thing every single day, now are you?

    so quit the complainin’ and enjoy the community, where we dont got much, but we got each other.

  16. David Shapiro Says:

    @WooWoo You’re right that blogs are more free form than newspaper writing. The most obvious way is that they’re two-way communication rather than one way and the comments are as important as the original post in creating a whole. I think my most successful posts are the ones that draw a lot of insightful comments that provide far more understanding than the post alone. So I make no pretense of my blog posts being as definitive or polished an argument as I would try to present in a newspaper column. I’m just trying to start a discussion on an issue I think is worth attention and leave room for others to get in their $.02 without trying to wrap it in a tight bow myself. Sometimes, I throw out a germ of an idea and use the feedback I get from you folks to build it into a fuller treatment in the newspaper later. Today’s was probably a good example of that. Even after four years, I’m still mostly experimenting and don’t claim to have figured out the blog format.

    @ScottG I’m not accusing any specific individual or organization of corruption, just saying that a system of laws that allows self-interested individuals and organizations to buy special influence and favor from elected officials with large campaign donations is inherently corrupt.

  17. charles Says:

    David, when you say “legislators,” it gives the impression that all legislators are “greasy.” Are you saying that there are no current legislators who favor public financing of campaigns?

    That’s like saying all journalists plagarize or all Catholic priests are pedophiles.

    Sort of a broad brush approach, no?

  18. David Shapiro Says:

    @Charles Again, my broad brush is that a system that allows special interests to buy influence and favor with large campaign donations is inherently corrupt. The floor is open for your legislator friends who don’t like being stained to do something about it. I may be missing somebody, but the only one I can think of who has championed this cause is Les Ihara.

  19. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha David ~
    I believe a number of us, people who respect your work, are trying to say that your broad brush is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    One of my favorite Federalist Papers is #51. Our Founders recognized your concerns. They didn’t have an answer either. Thus, Madison argues we must allow ambition to check ambition.

    We demand FEC reporting and this information is publicly available – this is how Peter Sur sourced his original article. You admit you don’t have any specific charges against an individual or organization. This is why I initially pointed out you’re simply being cynical.

    Many of us are frustrated with the Robert’s court. The decision in Citizens United v. FEC seems to move us away from our collective goal of reducing this influence.

    You concluded, we’ll have a bought-and-paid-for Legislature that serves special interests – including their own – ahead of the public interest.

    Who decides what’s in the public interest?

    If you want to change the system, appoint me … I’ll be the DICTATOR! LOL

    Our system relies on the political market to make these decisions. Rather than blame special interests, we use them. Special Interest A battles Special Interest B, C and D. If one wants something in America, they must battle. The only requirements are that we do this peaceably and follow general rules of ethics and transparency.

    When we hear complaints about “earmarks,” “special interests” or “cronyism,” it’s usually because a particular group considers itself disenfranchised. Republicans didn’t say a damn thing about Bush’s exploding deficits until Obama and Democrats took control of government. The legislator in power loves earmarks – as s/he can do something for her/his constituency back home. It’s the candidate seeking the position who complains.

    Case in point:

    As he runs for the U.S. Senate from Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi loudly criticizes his opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, for earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars for the state in federal spending bills.

    Yet as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Rossi wrote a 2003-05 state budget that contained dozens of member requests – which lawmakers refer to as locally targeted investments or bacon bits. Nestled in the Rossi’s budget were $24.6 million worth of projects funded through the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development and Community Services Facilities program.

    Let’s do something responsible here: either open a discussion on reforming the system or move to a topic that is relevant to our progress.

    A*L*O*H*A

  20. Michael Says:

    The guilty ones know who they are.

    Do you consider a good mechanic with clean hands?
    I just say that this mechanic knows how to clean up after his job or he is a mechanic who does not like to get his hands dirty? Some wear gloves.

    Another mechanic, I would in my opinion say this mechanic is not afraid to get dirty. 2 mechanics with different work standards. Both may do good jobs or both may do lousy jobs or only one does “shoddy”
    work.

  21. charles Says:

    David, I would pull out the bills on public financing that have been introduced over the years and see the votes. I don’t recall these bills having only the support of Sen. Ihara.

    You are confusing the system with the participants. Again, that’s like saying since you don’t rant and rave about the corporate takeover of the media and the demise of two-newspaper towns, you are complicit and agree with it.

    However subtle, there is a difference, in my opinion.

  22. Shaloha Says:

    All of the problems with governance stem from the size of the government.

    A government that has it’s hands into every form of human endeavor (Democrats are at war with greasy french fries and Happy Meals, for example)will invite defensive activities such as lobbying, targeted donations etc.

    Microsoft did not have any lobbying activity for a decade until the Big Government started interfering with it’s business. Now they have $100M plus lobbying effort in Washington to counter government influence.

    Smaller government is a good government. Another words, government providing anything beyond basic functions will defeat any efforts of good governance.

    Democrats that belive in Governmental solutions to every human problem are the source of all corruption by definition since they need to seek absolute power to accomplish controlling every aspect of our lives.

  23. David Shapiro Says:

    Charles, legislators write the campaign finance laws they operate under and they alone have the power to change them. The participants make the rules for the system. They’re at nobody else’s mercy. You’re darned right they’re complicit. I have no vote whatsoever on the corporate takeover of the media.

  24. Michael Says:

    What Dave does is Caligraphy. With a broad brush stroke writes pictures. Some would see it as art, some would see it as dabbling.

    Did it dawn on anyone that neither party is oil free?
    Oil just makes one slide by without making noise.
    Hear anyone who didn’t want to be heard, complain?
    I think they were paid to keep quiet. BP?

    It seems like watching wrestling on TV, how they fight on TV, but behind what we don’t see is they are planning the next episode of a Reality Show called OUR Government.
    Media sells only if people watch. Who wants boring News? Corruption is what makes the world go round? Too bad it doesn’t make ends meet! Corruption is Money Talks.

  25. WooWoo Says:

    Hipoli-

    I wasn’t complaining, I was just making an observation. I love this blog and Ian’s. And I agree 100%… we ain’t got much, but we got each other. Or is it we got each other, and we ain’t got much?

  26. hipoli Says:

    yes.

    🙂

  27. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha Shalola ~
    In the past I have criticized you for your vitriolic attacks on liberals and Democrats. I truly appreciate your recent approach. You have raised valid points in a civil manner. Mahalo for your professional courtesy.

    Your basic premise is that government is too large. I’m not sure you simply mean SIZE, as it appears you are also concerned about the SCOPE of government as well. This is a traditional libertarian position. Liberal Democrats have libertarian roots as well.

    We do not like BIG government intruding into our personal lives. Remember the public debates about wiretaps of American phone calls and emails during the Bush administration’s approach to fighting terrorism?

    Liberals stand for freedom in many ways. We have an inherent distrust of BIG government – as well as BIG business.

    You use the example of Microsoft. In the mid-90s, this excellent software company was dominating the market in such a way that it posed significant risks to smaller firms. Extreme concentration of wealth (and thus power) create disadvantages to Ma & Pa companies. Microsoft was gobbling up competitors.

    You may not be aware, about 1995, Microsoft assisted Apple Computers, Inc., which was nearly bankrupt, with about $150 million in cash. Microsoft didn’t do this simply to be generous. BIG government was breathing down their necks due to anti-trust regulation. Microsoft came to the assistance of Apple to demonstrate their support of free-market competition.

    Had this not happened, had Apple Computers, Inc. folded, we might solely be Microsoft world.

    Think of this: no iPods, iTunes, iMacs, iPhones, iPads or the robust Apple OS built on Unix. Think of the jobs and related industries stimulated by these Apple products.

    BIG government protected the fledgling computer industry from Microsoft. Today we have a far greater scope of products and options. I would say both the world and consumers have benefited greatly by the presence of BIG government, in this case.

    You also mentioned McDonald’s. It’s unfair to claim Democrats are at war with this multi-national company – but we do demand some regulation and greater consumer protection. Let me explain why.

    McDonald’s adds toys to Happy Meals. Young children know nothing about nutrition. Yet they quickly become branded to McDonald’s products because they like the FREE toy. They cry and whine until their parents give in and take them to eat at a McDonald’s restaurant.

    There’s nothing wrong with this in theory. Yet our kids are increasingly obese. YOU and I are paying these costs. YOUR and MY health insurance costs have exploded because more children are suffering from diabetes and other maladies – due in part to foods high in fat, sodium and low in nutrition.

    We are asking that McDonald’s be forced to fully disclose the calories and nutritional content in their products. Too many Americans do not understand nutritional guidelines, which are complex and confusing. Thus, we are demanding BIG business do a better job of disclosing this information. We are concerned about marketing tactics that target children – as they do not have the skills to sort out positive v. negative claims.

    Earlier in this discussion, David talked about the “public interest.” As I commented, who decides what is in the public interest? Democrats do not have a lock on power, so we can’t decide without engaging in rigorous public debate. Yet I believe these positions on BIG companies, such as Microsoft and McDonald’s, are in YOUR interest as well as mine.

    America cannot be strong if our Ma & Pa companies are overwhelmed by global corporations; America cannot be strong if our keiki are sick and overweight.

    Obviously you may disagree … but that is a legitimate function of democracy. We encourage robust discussion in the marketplace of ideas. What are your thoughts?

    A*L*O*H*A

  28. charles Says:

    David, I’m not going to beat this dead horse but . . . to say that all politicians are guilty of having greasy palms because a public financing bill didn’t pass is simplistic.

    I realize it’s a blog so the general rules of journalistic integrity don’t apply but I find it puzzling why you insist that since the laws haven’t changed, all politicians are guilty.

    It does take a majority of votes or am I wrong about that?

    Last point: you may not have a vote on the corporate takeover of the media but you do have a voice, no?

  29. shaftalley Says:

    Public financing? don’t put a checkmark in that box.

  30. Michael Says:

    I guess blowing in the wind and talking loud carries facts? hanneman is well educated it seems! Cum laude de da and skip to the loo 21 times on 20 miles.

    Broad brush strokes are used by many artists.
    Yet people ask the artist, What did you paint?
    They cannot see the overall picture, and what they
    see is not what the artist painted.


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