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Politics, Money, and the Environment: Unlikely Combination

Written by Luca

The ongoing election process for the next president of the United States raises inevitable questions about the relationship between politics and money. Money and gifts have saturated the world of politics since the time of President Grant, when lobbyists started patrolling down the halls of Congress, ready to pounce on an unassuming politician with the promise of money and gifts in exchange for the support of lobbyist-friendly legislation. Since then, other practices have sprung up to raise the exorbitant amounts of money needed for campaigning, as candidates strive to make their bid for office successful.

Money Defining Campaigns

If candidates focused more of their attention on the voters themselves, and not on their money

Presidential campaigns in the last half century have focused more on raising money, rather than on defining clear policy proposals to sway undecided voters. A clear example of this fixation on fund raising can be seen in the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, Barack Obama, who will be devoting several days mainly to fund raising, as he will visit wealthy donors in California, most notably Beverly Hills. If candidates focused more of their attention on the voters themselves, and not on their money, the candidates would do the voters and the nation, as a whole, a favor, because campaigns would return to focusing on critical issues. It is important to note however, that money is a necessary component to campaigns, but it is not sufficient to win.

Media’s Role in Politics

The media has played its part in shifting the focus away from critical issues, as it jumps on every opportunity to report anything that has the slightest hint of a potential scandal. Consider the media’s obsession with the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and her pregnant 17 year old daughter, or its fascination with Obama’s alleged Muslim faith. Now, is it appropriate for the media to focus its attention on these menial stories? Definitely not, because the nation deserves to be better informed on important issues such as the state of the economy, the fate of the Iraq War, the status of military operations in Afghanistan, and the environment. Why does the media insist on broadcasting useless news stories that only seek to rile the public? Because the media is in it for the money as well, because all of those attentive viewers that watch CNN, Fox News, or CNBC, are simply filling the already overflowing coffers of these news organizations, because the value of advertisements rises when the number of viewers increases. Therefore the media is just as responsible for the current state of affairs, as the widely despised lobbyists. Therefore, if one is to criticize the lobbyists, one must also criticize the media. We all know that come November 5th, lobbyists will have already lined up multiple contracts with politicians to pass critical legislation. The argument against lobbyists isn’t simply an ethical one.

Politics and the Environment

Because global warming is not the only problem threatening the earth

The tremendous influence oil companies exert on politicians through lobbyists has a detrimental effect on both the environment and the economy. Oil executives, through their faithful lobbyists, have convinced Congress on multiple occasions to grant substantial tax breaks. Through these tax breaks, Congress indirectly spawns greater investment towards oil companies, therefore making a negative impact on the environment. Remember that Exxon’s profits in the latest fiscal year topped a staggering 40 billion dollars, which begs the question: do oil companies need tax breaks to remain financially competitive? The answer is a distinct no, because any company that profits 40 billion dollars in one year does not need the help of a government to make it more successful. The federal government is foregoing an enormous amount of tax revenue, further enriching oil executives, while turning down environmentally sound tax breaks on clean energy companies, which invest in solar, eolian, and geothermal energy. If America wants to lead the world into the 21st century successfully, it needs to be the pioneer and chief promoter of alternative energy, because other nations, chiefly in Europe, are pushing ahead in the race to shift their economies from oil to alternative energy dependence. Alternative energy will not only minimize the impact of humanity on the environment, but it will also spawn a new sustainable economic boom, because the growth of world economy will revolve around the new environmental technology.

Multiple Environmental Problems

The environment will not be saved with alternative energy alone, because global warming is not the only problem threatening the earth. Depletion of water inventories, radical deforestation, and uncontrolled population growth will all threaten the survival of the environment. In all three cases, personal initiative is necessary to curb consumption and waste in order to avoid excessive government intervention in the regulation of resources. Not only is government intervention difficult to design on such complex issues, but it is a prone target of unscrupulous lobbyists. Individuals can contribute to clean politics if they solve problems at hand without asking for government intervention, therefore limiting lobbyists’ influence and power.

Luca Passamonti

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