$119 million and what it can buy
Re “Zillion-dollar politics,” Opinion, Sept. 18
Tim Rutten’s column discusses Meg Whitman spending $119 million of her own money on her race for governor. It points out that she is running on the usual Republican plank of abolishing capital gains taxes.
What this means, of course, is that her $119 million is actually an investment. If she wins and capital gains taxes are eliminated, she will make back that money or more, in effect letting the people of California who do pay taxes finance her campaign.
Because Whitman voted erratically, showing me that she really isn’t interested in the state’s problems or politics, I think her run for governor is an ultra-cynical ploy to further enrich the superrich.
Contrary to Rutten’s column, Whitman is entirely correct in wanting to lay off 40,000 public employees and abolish capital gains taxes in California.
California is insolvent precisely because its budget and number of employees have grown beyond both the state’s population growth and tax revenues. Private businesses have had to pare back their payrolls and budgets to survive in this recession.
It is Rutten’s highertax/bigger government “ideas” that are neither novel nor independent; they have been tried and have failed everywhere.
Whitman’s proposals also may not be either novel or independent, but they are precisely what needs to be done.
As I read Rutten’s column on the current gubernatorial race, I began thinking about the minimal obligations of a citizen in our democracy.
We no longer have a military draft, and the Peace Corps and Teach for America seem to have all but disappeared from the public consciousness. It seems that no one wants to pay taxes, so that the “dues” of a democratic society have become a virtual pejorative.
The obligation to vote, therefore, has become the last, least demanding and most basic obligation that remains. Yet we are now seriously considering a candidate who rarely exercised her most basic and least intrusive obligation as a citizen — to vote.
The amount of money Whitman is spending will not make her independent of special interests. Her lack of a record of voting, however, does tell us something about her primary special interest — that is, herself.
We can’t prevent rich candidates from buying public offices, but we should at least level the playing field.
I read a wonderful idea some time ago that would simply use tax funds to make sure that no matter how much money a candidate spends on a campaign, all of the qualified opponents receive enough money to match it.
It seems to me that then what one has to say would become much more important than how many times one says it. This would be a huge incentive for highly qualified people with the capabilities and the desire to serve to think about running for office.
I think we all know there are people in this country we would be proud to have representing us in office but who have too much integrity to do what’s required to raise enough money to run for office.