Letter: Dark money and the perfection of greed
To the editor:
Of all the tools that our billionaire friends have available to exploit democracy, their favorite is dark money. Lobbying and political contributions are child’s play.
Dark money typically flows through a network of “nonprofits,” “charitable foundations,” “social welfare groups,” “think tanks,” etc. This money flow is anonymous, making it difficult to trace but also revealing its insidiousness.
There are now hundreds of these organizations throughout the network that push a coordinated “wealth agenda.” Their numbers create the appearance of grassroots consensus across the country when in fact they are primarily created and funded by only several dozen “philanthropic propagandists.” To drive their agenda home, these organizations — with awesomely patriotic or community-centric names — fund media pundits, contribute to newspapers, generate manipulative studies, buy custom-made curriculums, and distribute unlimited “non-political” ads to take out the opposition (or even their own if the agenda isn’t rigorously followed).
The same few sources of money use their network to continually push against minimum wage increases, social security, health care reform (and those government death panels), climate change (but oddly, no other science), and the redistribution of wealth (now that they’ve seized it). They educate us on the importance of privatizing education (and profiting from it), protecting the free market (now that they control it), minimizing government regulation and agencies (unless they protect their assets or prevent competition), continued tax breaks for the rich (because decades of trickle-down economics will soon pay off), and the need to end non-existent yet rampant election fraud.
Their message has always been that our elected government is incompetent, corrupt, taking our money and liberties away, and impeding our success. They reframe their interests as ours, tugging at our heartstrings, promising that they will tear down our atrocious government. The more they gut and infiltrate it, the worse it gets, giving them more to complain about and increasing their influence.
Forty years of continual messaging (such as oppressive Wall Street regulations and the bullying EPA and FDA are hurting families and small businesses), gradually shifts our values and eases us into compliance, creating, in some of us, a deep-rooted contempt for our government.
One thing they conveniently don’t discuss is how our nation’s wealth has drastically migrated to them — leaving less for the rest of us to fight over. To conceal this, we are told to blame our government, neighbors, “takers," and vulnerable groups in our society. Our subtle differences are magnified and exploited while our many similarities (including that we are being conned) are washed over. The press barely helps since they profit greatly on a never-ending supply of political and “social” ads — investigative reporting would only slow the cash flow.
Dark money also supports astroturfing, gerrymandering on steroids (Project REDMAP), ALEC, a corrupt Supreme Court, a dysfunctional Congress, etc. Each of these deserve our time to understand — we owe that to our children.
This is not the natural evolution of American democracy — it is the evolution of greed, perfected by an extraordinarily small number of extraordinarily selfish individuals.
Not so anonymously,
95 Dianne Ave.