Tuesday, May 01, 2012

For-Profit Media Control of the Electoral Process

One of the major problems of modern American democracy is its dependence on money to run for office. It opens the floodgates for the big money influence of corporations, unions and lobbyists of all sorts to finance all elections.

Why do campaigns need so much money in the first place? Because it costs $$$$$ and more $$$$$ to reach the people.

Next question: what is the major cost of running for office? Answer: Media campaigns; primarily radio and TV.

Final question: who owns radio and TV? The US. THE PEOPLE. We own the airwaves. But we (through our representatives) stupidly give away free access to major media corporations...who then use those cheap airwaves not to enhance public discourse and public policy at election time but to create a political sports spectacle (the horse races of Dem. versus Rep.). Politics has become the modern American Sport of Kings. The Rich are in the Clubhouse controlling...and the rest of us are in the stands, gambling; and losing.

A possible correction: the government shouldn't be so generous dispensing airwaves to media corporations in the first place. Either: (1) continue to allow them to charge what the market will bear for political air-time but charge them more for their access; make them pay a fair price for their 'rights' of usage. Let we the people get a big $$$$ cut of the for-profit Media Giants' political 'air-time- sales/profits...and maybe  use the profit to increase revenues and maybe to pay off some of the National debt); OR (2) restrict the Media Giant's political usage of the airwaves WE INITIALLY OWN by demanding that a major amount of time for campaign advertising and discussion be made available to all national and local political campaigners according to some per unit exposure to the public basis.

Beware: the Internet is next. They will no more be democratized than the 'airwaves' are now. A few Media Giants like Google, Facebook and You Tube will control them; and they will start (if they haven't already) 'monetizing' the political process to their advantage.

The core of the survival of a democratic nation-state is its political system. And what is at the core of a democratic political system: fair and free and honest elections (ones not defined and rigged as horse races).

To a great extent we have the dysfunctional political system and the horrible political class we have because we have shot ourselves in the foot Re: leasing the airwaves. We have given away for free to the for-profit media our national legacy (and are being advised to do it with the Internet...under the diversionary and short-sighted call: "the Internet is free to all"). By doing that we have undermined our elected officials by their constant need to get campaign contributions to buy air-wave time. Take back the airwaves (and quickly get control of the Internet--perhaps China and Iran are not stupid despots in exercising stringent control of their Internet usage; maybe they just not giving away the national store?!)

Democracy trusts the electorate. It should trust the electorate (via the government) to self-interestedly and more profitably participate in what they have already commonly defined as the common property, the airwaves--at least when it comes to what it charges the Media Giants for access. Charge fair-value higher prices for what we own--or demand some free air time in return. A smarter and better political system hangs in the balance. The alternative: America will become a Corporate/Media "Brave New World" and its small coterie of rich for-profit Media leaders driving the electoral process through the expense (and profitability due to low cost purchase of access) of media-buys; while continuing to issue Soma pills (more stupid entertainment and vacuous "fast-breaking" news shows and 'horse-race' talking heads ...the Roman circus) to placate and numb the continually undereducated populace.

Let Capitalism work...for the people.


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