Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Good Is Money If It Can't Buy Love? Or Elections?

Instead of spending obscene amounts of  money trying, but failing, to buy elections, these three poor little rich girls could have done a heap more for society by taking the Giving Pledge. The one set up by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to attract philanthropic donations from the top 40 wealthiest Americans.

Instead, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and Linda McMahon chose to go on a combined 217 million dollar ego trip. "These women belong to a new breed of self-promoting opportunists, paving the way for women to escape their image as selfless givers, nurturers by nature. Not for them the Judeo-Christian philosophy, which holds that only by bequeathing much of what one has earned to those less fortunate can one earn it anew and possess it."

Of course, they can spend their own money anyway they please, even on their own campaigns. But maybe this blatant flaunting of their wealth seemed a little crass to poor and middle-class voters, especially to those who had lost their jobs, homes and health care coverage. Perhaps even members of the "old money" sect were turned off by the classlessness and tastelessness of these relative newcomers to wealth.

Their campaign to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans like themselves had to send a far stronger message to the electorate than all their empty pledges to "save the citizens of their states from an unemployment sinkhole and their children from educational dead ends."

MEG WHITMAN, former eBay CEO, spent $143.6 million of her own "billions" in her unsuccessful campaign for California governor. California Watch tallies her expenditures at more than $160 million, which could rise by the time expenses are totaled for the last month of the campaign.

Cost of each of her 3,748,669 votes: $38.32.

"Whitman’s spending could have bought full tuition for 23,553 California residents at the University of California-Berkeley, which would almost double current undergraduate enrollment. She could have made 95,764 connections for at-risk youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. Or, if she wanted to be known as the Savior of San Jose, she could have wiped out the megalopolis’ budget deficit twice over.

Yet this Silicon Valley mogul didn’t choose to fill the coffers of a state with a $20 billion budget deficit and a once-model public university education system teetering on the brink of collapse. Maybe she should be excused for knowing little about her adopted state’s political history, as she never voted in 40 years of elections, or even registered in California." (emphasis mine)

CARLY FIORINA, former HP CEO, spent $16.7 million in her failed attempt to become a California senator, including $5.5 million of her own money.

Cost of each of her 3,827,046 votes: $4.35.

". . . . her total campaign spending could have doubled the total assets of Goodwill of Southern California. It could have fully funded Pajaro Valley Unified School District for a year, saving the schools’ sports programs. Or, if Fiorina wanted to befriend folks closer to her mansion in Northern California, she could have increased the budget eight-fold of Raphael House, which provides low-income family services and shelter in San Francisco. Maybe she would have earned more headlines if she’d used her campaign budget to go global and purchase one million bed nets to combat malaria in Africa or provide micro-loans to more than 350,000 small businesses in South Africa, most of them to poor women."

During her six years as HP chairwoman and CEO, Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers. With Sarah Palin's endorsement, she may have committed political suicide in a state with unemployment at 12.4 percent in August, the third highest in the nation, by campaigning for repeal of health care legislation, overturning Roe vs. Wade, and returning California's unspent stimulus funds to the Treasury.

LINDA MCMAHON, wrestling impresario, spent $41.9 million in her unsuccessful bid for senator of Connecticut. Only about $97,000 came from outside contributions.

Cost of each of her 498,306 votes: $84.08.

"That would have covered a full year’s worth of salary and benefits for 802 state employees facing furloughs because of the state’s budget shortfall. It could have provided heating assistance to Connecticut families in need for seven years. It could have paid for 15 million school lunches across the whole country, or paid for two years of enhanced security for our troops in Iraq."

Now, I don't know about you, but I would happily take Fiorina's $14.7, the smallest expenditure of the three, fund no-kill shelters for large and small animals, build a nurturing network for abused children, feed the hungry, improve city, state and national parks, donate to library and school programs, donate to medical research, support Doctors Without Borders, rebuild and replant Appalachian mountain tops, hire Whitman's former housekeeper, and still have money left to buy that motor home and travel all over the country with my dog Lucky.


  1. What is probably just as stunning as the amounts these candidates spent is that they probably aren't even feeling the loss (at least not the financial loss).

    They can claim some kind of tax break on that too, can't they?

    I feel ill...

  2. "Federal law does not allow candidates or any contributors, for that matter, to receive a tax deduction when they donate to a campaign."

  3. Wow Leslie,great post and helpful info as well in your response re: tax deductions.

    I would imagine politicians not named Grayson or Lee or Paul would be as willing to vote for public financing of elections as they would be willing to vote to cut their own benefits and salaries;nevertheless that's the only way I can see of reforming the electoral process.

    Sorry you got an error on the Ritchie Valens video-maybe TN internet firewalls are blocking Spanish? :)

  4. These are amazing amounts of money, I can't even fathom it! Three good examples the voters did their homework and got it right, thankfully! The rich in the world have no concept when it comes to their fortunes.

  5. I can't even imagine these amounts of money. My friends are constantly amazed on how well I live on my small Social Security check. And yes, I manage small donations to causes I believe in. I think the disparity between the rich and the poor has gotten out of hand.

  6. The cost of ego gratification can be high particularly when you are not qualified. Notice that for all three of these women were running for state-wide offices, two for Senator and one for Governor, having never held any other elected position.

    They thought money was all they needed. I am glad they were wrong.

  7. These individuals' self-indulgent efforts to buy elections contrast strikingly with the actions of another member of the super-rich, George Soros, who has donated more than a hundred million dollars to humanitarian projects in eastern Europe (where he's originally from). Yet somehow it's Soros who has become the incarnation of evil in the rhetoric of people like Glenn Beck who, whether knowingly or not, are echoing centuries of dangerous paranoid delusions about sinister rich Jews manipulating politics.

  8. Thanks everyone. Obviously we do need some kind of serious campaign reform. For Whitman not to have even registered to vote in 30 years and then to have the audacity to run for state office is simply appalling.

    I hate to say this about my fellow sex but I've always felt that women in general could be a lot more vicious than men. Their claws come out and they will go to any length to get what they want - whether it's an election or a man.

    I'm just glad the voters rejected them - not only because of their draconian campaign platforms but because of how they chose to flaunt their wealth.

    The situation with the right and Soros is so typical of their hypocrisy. It's okay for the Koch Brothers and the Coors family to pump money into their causes but it's not okay for a Soros to donate to the opposition! We can all hope that one day Beck has a coughing fit over one of his lies which will lead to his demise. Certainly this latest brand of anti-semitism is frightening and should be vigorously attacked. But people remain quiet, including the MSM. Not a good thing.

  9. I covered the disgusting smears and lies the "reovering dirt bag" Beck broadcast over his two days of anti-Semitic, anti-Soros propaganda at my blog.

    The creepiness of what Beck and FOX News engaged in is breathtaking. In fact every Jewish organization has condemned what they put forward in demonizing Soros.

    Had Beck presented his program on German teevee, he would have been arrested--that's how seriously the Germans take the inapproriate use of the Nazi/Holocaust history and imagery to slander people.

    We have sunk to a new and deplorable low in America when a worm like Beck has the attention of any citizen.

    Eventually, like all over-reaching charlatans, he will be the architect of his own destruction.

    Sorry to go off subject, tnlib. Your post was most instructive and jaw dropping.

  10. I'm beginning to think that if we want to know what's happening in our country, we need to read the foreign press. CNN, AP, the WaPo and NYTimes have all covered it but for the most part it's been blogs like Shaws and the international press that has picked it up. Salon has an interesting piece on one of Palin's foreign policy advisors who is a lobbyist and who's also been a paid consultant to Soros.

  11. The thirst for power has no gender. Women can be just as vicious as men (And you are right, Leslie, sometimes more so). I am appalled at how bad priorities are taken over good ones; not only by individuals but by politicians. We are very messed up in this country.

  12. No, the thirst for power certainly isn't gender related but . . . Anyway, it's all really a matter of greed. What's mine is mine and what's yours if mine.

  13. Incredible how these three women could get to the top of their professions but still be afraid to ask for donations to their campaigns.

    Incredible that anyone voted for them because it was painfully obvious to even the most partisan mind that they were all trying to buy election.

    After all this, there are still people that think the rich can't afford to see the Bush tax cuts expire.

  14. Given her circumstances, Fiorina might have thought to donate the money to cancer research.

  15. Lord T: Oh, these gals accepted donations as well. I read that the only candidate who has personally financed his own campaign without accepting donations is Bloomberg.

    magpie: I suspect that they have contributed to some charitable causes, if only for tax write-offs, but look at how much more they could have done.

  16. Good post, Leslie! I can't add much except to say the cost of seeking office today is obscene. For my money, let these candidates appear on PBS and/or C-SPAN a couple of times, state their platform and let that be it. I, too, have thought of all the good that could have been done with all the money spent on this election cycle. Sigh. BJ

  17. The corporate-owned mainstream media loves the high cost of campaigning. They will fight any reduction in cost tooth and nail.

  18. California got it right this time. Whitman got less votes than the wacky weed prop got here and they spent way less than she did on ads. Good to know my state is not completely insane. I said once upon a time to her campaign office, that it would have better served the CA public if she had handed every man woman and child in this state a million dollar check. We would have seen our economy grow just a tad, with all that cash and she still would have had millions to pour into her campaign. Surprisingly or not, they hung up on a CA voter, that actually pays attention, with a good idea.

  19. Thanks everyone. If it wouldn't hurt so many people within the industry, I wouldn't mind seeing the MSM go belly-up. They deserve it. And then they could start afresh. This is a bit extreme, I realize, but damn them to hell.