Big Inside Money
California’s latest initiative to punish cigarette smokers, er, nudge them to good health was shot down by a very narrow margin. Celebrities like Lance Armstrong and such ethical companies as Susan G. Komen all came out in support of Prop 29, which would add a one dollar tax on each pack of cigarettes sold in the state, but that still didn’t make those numbskull taxpayers see the benefit.
As if you hadn’t already guessed, this benevolent government initiative was thwarted by that paragon of evil and greed, Big Tobacco. They cast “a blizzard of industry-financed radio and television advertisements over the last two months” that turned the tide from a seemingly insurmountable voter deficit. The successful initiative carried a price tag of nearly $50 million.
And here’s the worst of it. Some people suspect that this $50 million wasn’t a generous donation to the public good at all. Some people suspect that this money was invested as a business decision to “safeguard profits” and undermine an agenda that would reallocate tobacco companies’ profits at the government’s discretion.
It’s an utter travesty that such dirty, corporate money, privately earned in spite of government instituted hurdles, could be used for such reasons. At least that’s what Rachel Maddow said on her show Wednesday night.
Her contention is that Big Tobacco “erased” the state’s desires with their “dark money.” How can any benevolent Democrat compete with the “unlimited corporate” funding of their evil opposition?
Of course, she’s not talking about cigarettes or California. Nobody cares about that. The left attacked cigarettes yesterday, they’re doing it today, and they’ll do it tomorrow. No, she’s talking about Wisconsin- the black eye of every leftist pundit and politician in the nation.
I have to say, it’s a clever set-up. There is nothing that the progressives watching MSNBC hate more than Big Tobacco- not Big Oil, not Big Insurance, nothing. So she sets the tone for her viewers by getting them good and mad at corporations and rich fat cats before she starts railing against the GOP for stealing the election in Wisconsin.
She repeatedly makes the false claim that Republicans outspent Democrats by a margin of 8-to-1, as if to erase the merits of the election. She has this idea that Democrats get by on the sweat of their brow, and all the blood, sweat, and tears that Big Labor and activists suffered were just not enough to make up for that massive financial disadvantage.
You played well, guys. Republicans just cheated. That’s the message.
But here’s the kicker. There was no 8-1 disadvantage in spending. Maddow and her cohorts purposefully neglect to account for the money that unions threw at this election as if their lives depended on it- which makes sense, because their lives do depend on it. Unions spent $10 million on the campaign, and they weren’t stumping for Scott Walker. This makes the GOP spending advantage- the real GOP spending advantage- somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-to-1.
That $10 million spent to secure the Democratic seat? That’s all kosher. That money didn’t come from some “dark” corporate entity. It’s money that largely came from hardworking public employees. Money from hard-working public sector employees that have been forced to contribute to the union campaign efforts, and thereby also contribute to Democratic campaign efforts. Sure, it’s not as much as that dirty tobacco and corporate money, but at least it’s honest.
Rachel Maddow says that Democrats have no way to compete with the “big outside money” that Republicans collect from corporate interest. But is Democrats’ access to “big inside money” really more ethical?
This is the lesson- Democrats make no distinction between private money and public money. Yes, tobacco companies threw almost $50 million to a campaign to protect their business venture. It was legal, and it was their money. Sure, corporations threw money at Scott Walker to secure a Republican victory. They did it legally, they did it by choice, and it was their money, earned in private business ventures.
The “big inside money” of the unions is nothing more than taxpayer revenue, paid to public employees, then redistributed to a political party that organized the level of collection for that revenue in the first place. It was money that taxpayers didn’t willingly give to the Democratic campaign- it was seized through collective bargaining between a union boss and countless dirty politicians. It has been, until Scott Walker’s law ended the policy, a mandatory contribution to Democrats by all public employees. Money that was allocated for use as a benefit to public workers, and then used as campaign contributions.
So Rachel Maddow and her ilk can speak of “dark money” all they please. It is far more ethical than the “dirty politics” that funds the Democratic Party.