America’s Money Problem
In the most expensive election season in history, dominated by clandestine SuperPAC spending, the threat of the money-politics marriage has reemerged in the national discourse. The concerns over moneyed-interests dominating election campaigns are justified. Beyond the headlines, internet mega-providers like AT&T and Verizon are investing cash in political coffers to drive legislation which benefits their bottom-line at the expense of progress and development; a case study in the dangers of corporate interests investing in political will.
This year, legislation in Georgia and South Carolina has been proposed to limit public investment in broadband access. The bills are marketed as preserving the sanctity of the private markets. The belief in private markets as the great liberators of humanity is fundamentally entrenched in our society. This makes us ripe targets for exploitation. Behind this façade, internet providers have limited their broadband service speeds, created pricing strategies meant to identify less price-conscious customers (translation: limit quality access to people able to spend $1200 or more per year to access the internet), and opted to not invest in infrastructure reaching rural markets They are actively lobbying to limit choices and access. So much for the unassailable good of private markets.
Access to communication and transportation are key to economic growth and development. Societies committed to spreading knowledge and opportunity fare far better than their oppressive comparators. The investment in access is too important to be left to the whims of companies beholden to major shareholders. Worse, those companies are actively fighting to limit access and speeds by denying the Democratic rights of voters to determine public investments. Money spent to purchase political will to extract higher profits; the new American way.
The dignified solution is a public and open protest of both the political process which enables big spenders to wield such disproportionate political clout and the companies trying to limit our progress. The interests of the elite few do not outweigh the greater good of our society. Politicians are quite savvy at identifying the essential supporters to their careers and rewarding them to maintain their power. A system which allows money to purchase legislation and votes is a broken system. An undemocratic system. Political office should behold elected officials to the constituents they serve and the best interests of their communities. A dignified man demands better.