What Could We Do with $420 Million?

Can you even imagine what we could do with $420 million? We could renovate schools, fund welfare programs, pay off all kinds of debts, pull people out of poverty, finance small businesses, feed the homeless, build homes for the homeless, repair bridges close to collapsing, provide aid to foreign nations gripped in poverty, war, famine, and who knows what else, and the list goes on.

I’ll admit that we can’t save the world by throwing money at our problems. You need people on the ground making it all happen. But still, we could really make some headway in our world with $420 million, even if we’re still a planet of sniveling weasels who would no doubt figure out a way to siphon off a significant chunk of that sum into the bulging pockets of a few corrupt leaders.

Why am I tossing around $420 million? Because the candidates in the 2008 election have, as of this point, raised that much money to fund their campaigns.  And do you want to know the insane part? They’re hitting up people for more, lots more, straining for every donation they can drag out of their donors.

I ask you, have we lost our minds?

Millions of dollars evaporate with commercials, radio ads, buttons, flyers, brochures, signs, headquarters, staff, and so forth. On one hand I have no problem with our process. It’s way better than most. And anytime you get into campaign finance reform you hit on some sticky issues.

But still, $420 million and then some to become the next president? We are basically paying candidates to convince us to believe things we could find out if we just read the paper or their web sites. Of course they wouldn’t go through all of this trouble of bombarding us with ads and events if they didn’t work, but I still can’t shake that number, that astronomically high number.

Without getting into the sources of these funds, special interest groups and businesses who will expect special treatment down the line, is it not time to rethink campaign financing and doctor up some kind of controlled, equitable system? It will no doubt have flaws, but our current system is driving us to absurdity. Everyone is looking for an edge, and so the primaries move up, the fundraising moves up, the commercials move up, and we just burn millions of dollars during the two years leading up to the election.

It’s all a crazy game that is completely out of control.

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