What money buys in politics

Law professor Peter H. Schuck makes the ridiculous suggestion that because the amount of money spent in the 2012 election was considerably less than what Americans spent on cosmetic surgery in 2011, we shouldn't worry about it. Then he notes that campaign spending as a share of the gross domestic product has not risen appreciably for more than a century.


Why should campaign spending be related to economic output?

Schuck cites a study finding that an extra $175,000 in campaign spending increases a candidate's vote tally by a third of a percentage point. Rather than being innocuous, this is actually quite alarming.

Schuck makes several good observations about how incumbency threatens democracy and what might be done about it, but overall his article is a sop to big-money interests in politics.

Dennis J. Aigner

Laguna Beach

Sure, money won't buy the vote of a regular person, but it sure can buy members of the state legislature or Congress. Here's what your money is buying right now:

Profits on gun sales fund the National Rifle Assn. and ensure that even when little kids get slaughtered at school, universal background checks won't pass the Senate despite the fact that about 90% of the country supports them.

Wealthy people who make money from investments make sure they don't get taxed at the same rates as wage earners.

Money strangles the implementation of banking reform. And it makes sure that no matter how many floods, fires or hurricanes we have, nothing is done about climate change.

Best of all, money buys donors the ability to hide behind "social welfare" organizations so nobody knows who's doing these evil things.

Joanne Zirretta

Aliso Viejo

A large war chest doesn't guarantee victory, as Republican Meg Whitman learned in 2010 when voters elected Democrat Jerry Brown governor by a wide margin.

But what money does allow is for the wealthy to buy the loyalty of politicians. The handful of GOP presidential hopefuls who visited billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently offer proof of that.

Most Americans agree that the latest Supreme Court rulings loosening campaign finance rules were steps in the wrong direction.

Kyle Laurent