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Campaign finance referm staffs: nnt much progress since 1905
BY MCCAFFREY BLAUNER
It's a strange fact of our political system
that politicians buy their way into office.
In the 2004 general elections, 91 percent of
the senate elections and 95 percent of those
for the House were won by the politicians
who spent the most on their campaigns.
Now, I'm not saying that being president
or a congressman or a senator comes with a
literal price tag, but the statistics are hard to
The truth of the matter is far more
convoluted. There isn't an actual requirement
for vast wealth on the part of major political
candidates, but it sure seems like there might
as well be.
When is the last time someone ran for
president who was even slightly less than
While the tendency for anyone but those in
the highest of income brackets to be excluded
in our system of governance from positions
of power seems to stink of oligarchy, a deeper
and more insidious problem presents itself
in the workings of campaign finance.
Since ads and similar campaigning
methods cost money, it seems logical to
conclude that funding can greatly influence
the success or failure of a political campaign.
While this might seem ultimately
democratic (after all, if the success of a
candidate is based on the contributions given
to them, would that not seem to manifest the
many corporations have access to such vast
financial resources that it disproportionately
represents the actual amount of people
involved who support the candidate in
Unsurprisingly, the members of congress,
many of whom owed their positions to
sizable contributions from corporate
There isn't an actual requirement for vast wealth on the part of
major political candidates, but it sure seems like there might as
well be. When is the last time someone ran for president who
was even slightly less than extremely wealthy?
desires of the people?), it has trapped our
political system in a logistical catch-22.
Why you might ask? Corporations.
In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt spoke
before Congress suggesting that all corporate
donations should be banned. After all.
supporters, did not greet this idea warmly.
Today, sadly, we have not come very far.
What Roosevelt feared has come to pass.
Dpspite numerous attempts to regulate
donations to candidates and spending on the
part of said candidates, the use of political
action committees has allowed for a plethora
of loopholes through which corporations
may funnel money into the campaigns of
These campaign contributions are
invaluable to getting elected to major
In the last presidential race, candidates
Barack Obama and John McCain spent a total
record-shattering $5.3 billion, in comparison
to a relatively paltry $i4.2 billion spent on the
Current Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney has sunk approxinriately 45
million dollars of his own money into his
Attempts at campaign finance reform
have met with little more support than in
1905. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that
it was unconstitutional to ban spending by
corporations in candidate elections.
So, ultimately who will change this? The
politicians who owe their positions to the
same largely unchecked corporate donations
that they should presumably be attempting
The cost of safety: New York shootings gone awry
BY DANIEL GASKIN
Crazed gunman Jeffrey Johnson, 53,
killed one person before he was shot to
death outside the Empire State Building
on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in New
York City in a chaotic gunfight that left
nine bystanders injured.
Since this incident, some critics of
police policy involving the apprehension
of criminals have raised the debate over
gun usage in the police force. Many
argue policemen shouldn't be using
guns to apprehend
criminals due to the
fact that nine people
were injured in the
crossfire that resulted
in Jeffrey Johnson's
change in police
protocol is something
that I cannot, in good
advocate for a man
or woman who I ask
to risk their life for
me and my fellow
Americans on any
We as civilians
have the luxury to
second guess the
choices made by the
police officers who apprehended Jeffrey
Johnson, but Assistant Professor of Justice
and Policy Studies Will Pizio suggests
another point of view.
"Use of deadly force is OK if you are
faced with a split second decision," says
Pizio. "The cop saw the gun and shot the
criminal. They probably had three seconds
to make a choice."
When one thinks about the immediate
reaction that policemen have to go on
New York City is the safest
big city in this country, but
we are not immune to the
national problem of gun
when they see a gun, it is shortsighted
to say that they should have used a taser
or some other form of non-lethal weapon
simply to protect the safety of bystanders,
because the decision to shoot Johnson was
an instinctual one.
"Not being there, and only knowing
what little I have seen on the news about
it, I can't make a call on whether the
officers did the right thing or not," said
Director of Public Safety Ron Stowe in an
"Without question, it is unfortunate
that innocent bystanders were wounded
and I would imagine the officers involved
are second guessing
—^ their own actions,"
said Stowe. "That
said, the officers
had to react to the
situation at hand
— in a split second
— based on the
had available to
"There is no doubt
that the situation
would've been even
more tragic except
for the extraordinary
acts of heroism," said
Mayor Bloomberg in
a media conference.
"New York City is
' the safest big city in
this country, but we
are not immune to the national problem of
We are lucky to have heroes and we
need them because we all live in a world
of violence. When asking the selfless to
defend us from perils, we must give them
those tools necessary for the job at hand.
We sleep safely in our beds because of the
police and I am grateful for them.
In the words of Niccolo Machiavelli,
Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
mayor of New York City
'Before all else, be armed.'