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I hear a lot of complaints about big companies donating money to politicians and getting favorable legislation in return. Obviously these companies make donations because they believe it works. I decry this perversion of our democracy (okay, our republic). On the other hand, I wonder how I can invest in those companies.

Has anyone tracked the stocks of companies that donate to politicians to see if those companies beat the market averages? I'd like to see a stock fund comprised of companies that are donating the most money to politicians. If those companies do indeed outperform the market, I want in. Realistically, I don't see this practice ever subsiding, so complaining does no good. Even voting for politicians who say they will fight it does no good. But making money from the companies who corrupt the system seems to make good sense to me. I see no reason that you and I shouldn't get a taste of that action.

I couldn't find a list of the biggest political donors, which is worrisome on its own. Can someone Google me up one and put it in the comments?
 
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Aug 25, 2009
Hey Scott - I'm too lazy to read all the comments, did anyone find anything good? Thanks.
 
 
Aug 23, 2009
"@tkwelge

I'm not sure why you're putting "immoral" in quotation marks, seeing as the only person who has used that word in the entire page of comments is you."

Quotation marks are not used just for quoting. :p This entire discussion is about morality. Is it immoral for people to be able to donate whatever they want to whoever they want for political purposes. I say no. As long as everybody gets one vote, you have nobody to blame but yourselves and your neighbors. The only reason people don't want money to be involved in politics is because it's easier to blame political failures on lack of money rather than lack of competent policy. Yes, it's sad that money does seem to play a role in politics, but people have to change, not the system.


"Democracy is fairer when each and every person has the same chance to influence social policy. It shouldn't be dependent (as it has in previous years) on your race, religion, gender or wealth. One person can be born into millions of dollars, or win it in the lottery, and when he or she has considerably more power to influence policy than your average person you have a plutocracy instead of a democracy."


How do you make it fair? Everyone has one vote and that's as fair as it gets. We could spend all day excluding this group or that person as people with "unfair" advantages, but that's just life. What if someone is more attractive, or more eloquent than somebody else? What if somebody is more popular or famous (such as show hosts and celebrities)? SHould they have to hide their political beliefs or be restricted from speaking their opinions publicly around election time? That would be insane! Everyone is going to have advantages that somebody else doesn't have. When it comes to election day, one person, one vote. That's as fair as it can ever be. Any other "adjustment" to the system is arbitrary or motivated by a crappy agenda.

"I'm all for people forming groups to further their interests. But when Coca Cola (funded by overseas currency and interests!) has more say in important decisions about civil rights than you do, something in the democratic process has gone wrong."

So...... you're not all for people forming groups to further their interests. Actually, Coca Cola doesn't even get to vote, so I don't see how they have any more say in anything than I do. It doesn't matter how much money Coca Cola spends on campaigns, I'm still voting for Pepsi! (lol jk, but seriously, I don't base my vote on flashy add campaigns, so I don't really care how much money Coca Cola spends). Who cares if they are funded by overseas currency? You're not getting away with that one. Money is so liquid nowadays that many "American" enterprises are funded by people residing in other countries and use foreign labor. What is truly an "American" or "Foreign" enterprise isn't exactly clear these days. I think that foreigners should have a right to donate all the money they want to US politicians. Once again, they don't get to vote anyway, and borders are really just imaginary lines in the sand.

"Saying that it's society's fault for being susceptable to hugely expensive advertising campaigns is like saying "it's society's fault for having a tendency towards drug addiction" -- it is unproductive at best. We should acknowledge that the political party with more money is more likely to win. The implications of this (that power stems from money rather than humanity) are worrisome, and solutions should be explored."


You're comparing someone who suffers from serious drug addiction to general ignorance and stupidity? Wow.


 
 
Aug 22, 2009
A slightly different study was carried out in the UK during the Thatcher years. At that time companies were permitted to make political contributions at whim (now it is only permitted if the shareholders vote for it; most don't)

Political donations had to be reported in the company accounts.

It was discovered that Chairmen of companies who had made large political donations to the Conservative party received an overwhelmingly greater proportion of peerages (became Lords) than Chairmen of similarly successful compoanies that did not.

After donations had to be more rigorously reported by political parties (but not loans), a similar scandal emerged in the 1990s when it became known that wealthy individuals who had made large "loans" (interest-free and never repaid) to Blair's Labour party were also in receipt of honours. After the "loans" became known, many of them were abruptly repaid.
 
 
Aug 21, 2009
Money in politics is only immoral if it is a guarantee. If money directly translated into victory, than any donations, of any amount, from any person would be 100% immoral. HOWEVER, because money doesn't directly translate into victory, and the upside risk is equal to the downside risk, and any restrictions would be arbitrary or restrict constitutional freedoms of speech, you cannot sit here and say that the system is just "corrupt" and their is no room for the little guy. If that were true, the world would be a very different place.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 21, 2009
: atroche

How do they have extra influence? Everybody only gets one vote. Even If I gave a billion dollars to the American Nazi party, they wouldn't win the next election. From your point of view, any difference in income is immoral, and an instance leg up over others. I don't buy it. You can't just throw around statements like, "All them rich people win control elections with their money!" I know that money does play a role in elections, but so does misinformation and herd mentality. That's life. Just like you have to trust the rest of the electorate to vote with wisdom, you also have to trust that money doesn't have any more influence in politics than we let it have. No amount of expensive add campaigns is going to get me to change my opinions. If shiny things distract you enough to vote for bad candidates, then I feel sorry for you.

My point is that I know it seems unfair! But remember, you're just one person in 300 million in this country. You can't expect the rest of the electorate to do things YOUR way. Neither can you assume that the reason the electorate doesn't see things YOUR way is due to the influence of corruption. I think that the influence of money in politics is exaggerated to the umpteenth degree as a convenient way for people to deal with the fact that their ideas just aren't as popular as they'd like them to be. I believe in the marketplace of ideas, and I'd say that overall, that has had more influence than money ever has in politics. '

My other point was that it'd be impossible to keep JUST corporations out of politics. They are organizations, just like unions or NGO's. If you ban one from being involved, you'd have to ban all of them. Once you agree that it's okay to ban groups of individuals from donating, than how long will it be before you can ban the richer individuals from donating? Then how long will it be before we arbitrarily ban all sorts of individual people from making contributions?

If spending lots of money was the key to instantly winning elections, then explain to me why we haven't had a monolithic, unchanging government over the last century or two. If you're arguing that all political campaigns should have the same exact funding, than I guess I can't argue with that on practical grounds. However, I don't believe that it is immoral for me to use my money (I don't even have hardly any, I'm a stoner who shares an apartment with another stoner) to further political campaigns, and therefore it isn't immoral for rich people or organizations to do what they see fit with their money. THey have more money than me! Oh well.... That's life, and a lot of them deserve their money more than I do. I laugh knowing that a rich person will donate a million dollars to a political campaign and lose it all, because their candidate won't win anyway.
 
 
Aug 21, 2009
I am curious as to just where you found your statistics that there is a high correlation between income and intelligence, but I'm willing to concede the point. However, there is little correlation between wealth and intelligence since wealth becomes hereditary. Even if the parents were unusually smart, there is a tendency for offspring to move toward the average (I believe it's called regression to the mean). I can agree that uneducated and/or lazy will result in being a failure UNLESS your family is wealthy, in which case, you cannot fail. If you start out poor, your chances of getting a good education are limited no matter how intelligent you are and how industrious you are. You have virtually no chance of getting an ivy-league degree, which translates to little chance of rising to the top in many fields, even if you are the most qualified. I'd also remind you that some of our wealthiest families amassed the original wealth using tactics that are today illegal.
 
 
Aug 21, 2009
Try GS, as the stock to follow. Especialy with a Democratic regime.
 
 
Aug 21, 2009
wtinasky:
You obviously have little experience of corporations if you consider them SMART and evil. You're half right dude, though I would say they are obviously only evil from the perspective of those not aligned with their interests. The smart tends to be with the founding, then gets diluted by the pressure of operating with lots of people. Read some Dilbert to find out about that.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
@tkwelge

I'm not sure why you're putting "immoral" in quotation marks, seeing as the only person who has used that word in the entire page of comments is you.

Democracy is fairer when each and every person has the same chance to influence social policy. It shouldn't be dependent (as it has in previous years) on your race, religion, gender or wealth. One person can be born into millions of dollars, or win it in the lottery, and when he or she has considerably more power to influence policy than your average person you have a plutocracy instead of a democracy.

I'm all for people forming groups to further their interests. But when Coca Cola (funded by overseas currency and interests!) has more say in important decisions about civil rights than you do, something in the democratic process has gone wrong.

Saying that it's society's fault for being susceptable to hugely expensive advertising campaigns is like saying "it's society's fault for having a tendency towards drug addiction" -- it is unproductive at best. We should acknowledge that the political party with more money is more likely to win. The implications of this (that power stems from money rather than humanity) are worrisome, and solutions should be explored.
 
 
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
Wait a minute, wait a minute. How is it immoral for corporations to donate money to politicians in return for certain policies? That is the whole point of ANYBODY who donates to a political campaign, unless you're just giving money for the sake of giving. Unions, co ops, small businesses, big businesses, NGO's, church's, individuals, etc all donate to politicians, and they ALL do it to further an agenda. That is the whole point. All of these separate interests are SUPPOSED to have a seat at the table to protect themselves, just as individuals are supposed to also. A corporation is just an organization. Just a group of people. If it is immoral for corporations to make donations, than it is immoral for every organization or individual to do likewise. Whether you like it or not, this is democracy. This is it! And maybe money wouldn't play a role in politics if you morons weren't so easily duped. You have nobody to blame but yourselves, but you would rather blame corporations. Jeesh. Democracy means interests. You have an interest. I have an interest. And guess what!?!?!? SOMETIMES, they don't agree with eachother. Would that make either of our donations to politicians "immoral."
 
 
Aug 20, 2009
@atrophe
I'm not sure where you're located, but it sounds like you don't understand some underlying things about the USA. Firstly, we have a ton of colleges, and many of them are cheap. There is ubiquitous financial aid and freely available low-interest student loans if you don't qualify for any of the many scholarships that are available, especially to poor people. If you strike out on your own, with no aid and no loans and no scholarships, you can literally go to a junior college for $800 per semester. Once you pass the entry-level classes, a university (like the University of Texas) costs as little as $1500 per full-time semester including books. College is free to prison inmates -- perhaps the people who need it most. A decent education is certainly accessible to anyone who wants it.

Second, a person can start a business in America by registering a business name for around $35. Incorporating an LLC costs around $500. The number of Americans who start their own businesses is huge -- perhaps as many as half the people I know. Most of these are contracting and consulting businesses or services (like event planners and caterers) . Admittedly, the competition is stiff. But there aren't any social, political, or financial barriers. People are largely limited by their talent and their ability to advertise.

Europe (and I know about Scandinavian countries in particular, since my family is largely Finnish) doesn't make starting a business easy. The legal issues, continuous paperwork, and employer costs in Europe are heavy and oppressive to a point that nothing more than individual contracting can be done without a family fortune or major investors. No such deal in America. If I have a business, and my customer needs two people, I can dig up anybody with the right skills, hire them as an hourly contractor and worry about FTE at any time later -- maybe never.

wtinasky is guity of censure. Poor people are largely stupid, lazy, have ulterior priorities, or have some personal barriers (family obligations, health, psychology). But his stupid and lazy points cover a lot of ground.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
This was on the front page of Digg

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
atroche said: "You do realise that American corporations operate overseas, right? So when I buy a Coke in Australia, that should influence American elections ?"

Don't be silly, no one would use AUSTRAILIAN dollars to make political contributions in the U.S., there's no Wallaby Lobby here.

Jeesh, sometimes it's like I'm the only one with any common sense.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
wtinasky,

Your point is very appealing, but to be rich does not only involve intelligence. Where I come from, you also have to be ruthless and self-centered. I do not want to be governed by ruthless and self-centered people.

Then again, where you come from, people would call me a socialist.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
hatchm: I fell for it hook, line and sinker =)
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
atroche: Excellent points. That's probably why I failed out of Electoral College.
 
 
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
@wtinasky

Can you back up your assertion that the USA has a higher-than-usual correlation between intelligence and income? You may have lower taxes, but compared to Scandinavia, Australia, Canada (and so on) your poor people get pretty terrible educations.

@larskj

Who "deffined" smart as higher-than-average intelligence? Certainly not any dictionaries I know of.

@ Scott Adams

Other countries set restrictions on political donations -- the best example is Sweden where political parties are publicly funded and private donations are banned. Check out:

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/05/16/1210765176377.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

If they can do it, so can you. There is some chance of redemption for the US (as slim as it looks!).
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
hatchm said : "Aren't the contributions just an extension of our "democracy"? The people vote with their dollars - which get collected by corporations."

You do realise that American corporations operate overseas, right? So when I buy a Coke in Australia, that should influence American elections -- as an "extension" of your democracy?

Not to mention the fact that under your -- ahem -- extended democracy, certain people are born with considerably more votes than others.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
Aside from the problem that you would meerly get a list of very big companies (essentially you need to be the major benefitiary of the laws you buy) it is interesting if they do earn more money. I think not, the companies with massive return on investment tend to be small/medium sized.

As for the stupid people comments:
The stupid CAN'T outnumber the smart, as smart is deffined af "higher than average inteligence" and that kinda tends to mean equal numbers on both sides.
Oh and yes inteligence and income do correlate- right until an IQ of 120. I assume this means that a 120 is about where lack of inteligence stops preventing you from doing something.
This leads me to a second point, the theory that there are no smart poor people is wrong- it assumes that all smart people have social skills, and are activly trying to become rich (instead of say working with the community, going into civil service to serve the nation and the like).
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 20, 2009
Aren't the contributions just an extension of our "democracy"?

The people vote with their dollars - which get collected by corporations.

The corporations who get the most of those dollars use some to protect their customers interests through political contributions.

I wrote wy thesis on this subject during my post-grad time at Electoral College.

 
 
 
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