Politician for Sale


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Most people agree with the idea that there is some level of corruption in the state and federal government but are unsure of the extent of said corruption. Most people tend to believe that the corruption is limited to a few politicians and has minimal effect on government policy. The truth of this matter is much darker.
A large majority of politicians take part in some level of corrupt actions, for which they end up working for big business, not the people. Every election cycle, companies spend millions in “donations” to political candidates, hoping to get them elected. Some people may ask what the problem in this is; after all they’re not breaking the law by doing this, but this only serves to prove my point. The amount of money a single person can donate to a candidate is about $2600 but can change due to inflation.
The problem comes when a person or group of people create an “authorized” campaign committee. Authorized campaign committees are allowed to give 2,0005, which is a huge sum of money. To create an authorized campaign committee, you need to get it authorized by the FEC or the IRS, but the commissioners in charge of the FEC and IRs are chosen by the president and voted on by congress. These are the same people that big businesses funnel millions of dollars into each election cycle, creating a vicious cycle of corruption. In return for these companies giving campaign funds to the politicians, they give them tax cuts and create loopholes for them in the tax code. All of this information can be found on the FEC’s website, so they aren’t even trying to hide this and politicians and contributors may bank on the fact that the average American doesn’t thoroughly research politicians that are running for offices.
There are various loopholes created by the politicians that big businesses use to avoid paying the legal amount of 35% in taxes. 1 out of 4 American corporations don’t pay a cent in federal income tax, and most pay less than half of what the tax codes state they should. 83 of the 100 largest U.S. corporations use tax havens to save their companies millions and even billions. They set up their IP’s (intellectual property) in foreign places like Ireland that have lower taxes so they don’t pay the U.S. rate even though these subsidiary boards still meet in the U.S. like in the case of Apple. Apple set up offices and subsidiaries in places with low corporate taxes like Reno Nevada, the British Virgin Islands, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Most of these are no more than a couple person offices with a mailbox. These offices play no part in designing iPhones, iPads, or assisting AppleCare; they are merely there to lower their corporate taxes by filing them there instead of their headquarters in California. Using this technique, they only pay about 9.8% in taxes, compared to the average of 24%.
Companies also set up bank accounts in offshore places so they don’t have to pay taxes on them. By setting up these shell companies, larger companies avoid paying a large percent of taxes, and in some cases, taxes altogether. For instance, a California corporation that is based and operates in California pays 8.84% in taxes, but a Corporation based in Nevada but operates in California pays 0% in taxes. Certain industries also get large subsidies that allow them to pay even less. The energy industries, specifically oil, coal, and natural gas, are infamous for demanding more and more subsidies.
Another great example of this corruption is the Koch brothers who are notorious for spending millions in campaign contributions to republican candidates and the Republican Party each election cycle. They are practically buying politicians with this practice. Because of these campaign contributions, the Republican candidates can discredit the Democrats. These Republicans then do whatever the Koch brothers want them to do because they won’t get reelected without their campaign contributions, which usually involves tax breaks, oil subsidies, and the occasional deregulation. On occasion, they will give money to charity and donate money to various public and private institutions, but they get this money back by writing it off on their tax returns. The Koch brothers aren’t the only ones who do this, virtually every corporation in America does this, and they do it on a federal, state, and even on a local level.
Our archaic tax codes do not suffice in the 21st century even though they worked fine before the internet revolution. To fix this, we need more transparent tax codes that don’t allow for loopholes created by politicians that have been bought by corporations. The first step in this arduous process will be to get money out of politics, so our elected politicians work for the people again, not for corporations. There needs to be a fair limit on how much money can be donated to politicians and specific individuals that don’t allow corporations to outspend the rest of the population. After this is achieved, the tax codes need rewritten so they don’t allow for things like tax havens so corporations can’t dodge taxes. Then we need to stop giving subsidies to industries that don’t need them. This large increase in government revenue will greatly lower how much deficit spending the government does each year and would make it much easier to balance the budget each year, decreasing the likeliness of another government shutdown.
Getting money out of politics and limiting government corruption is just the first step along the road to national recovery. Our current congress has been called the biggest do-nothing congress in recent history. This is further evidence that we are living in another gilded age of politics, just like the late 19th century, and there are numerous comparisons that can be drawn. There is a political stalemate between Republicans and Democrats, and politicians are elected based on electability, not on their stance on the important issues. Politicians are more worried about the success of big business and not the people, creating a giant gap of disparity between the rich and the middle class. Most politicians are mediocre, having given little contributions. Most people can only name a few politicians, including the president, one or two of his staff members, a congressman, and maybe a governor.
Not every politician is corrupt, and it’s not just the Republican Party either. A fair share of Democrats that believe in supporting corporations over the people are bought by large corporations, and some are not apt to taking a strong stance against the corruption. Those who are, are typically few in numbers and get out voted, along with the few Republicans that aren’t corrupt. Getting money out of politics would allow us to have a majority of politicians that are good willed and do what’s best for the people of the United States, not what’s best for the corporations.

By: James Reese

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Politician for Sale