Grrr am I upset!
In the US we recently passed a new law called Campaign Finance Reform which attempts to regulate "soft dollar" campaign finance dollars. The premise was that certain kinds of donations are corrupting the campaign process and are therefore "dirty", but other kinds of donations are "clean". Its not clear how they decide which is which. For example if a television network broadcasts an editorial in favor of legislation they think will help them, its "clean", but if someone else buys time to broadcast their support of that same legislation near election time, its "dirty". Many opponents of the reform, reacting to the actual details of the law instead of the noble sentiments it expressed, felt that its effect would tend to strongly favor re-election of people already in office, no matter what their political views.
Anyway, today the US Congress increased the amount by which US farms are subsidized by more than $70 billion (almost doubling them). Yet they greatly weakened a provision that would limit that maximum amount a farm can get in order to ensure that more money gets to the small farms that presumably need it. The rest of the world, especially Europe which didn't like being lectured by Clinton and Bush about their high farm subsidies, is justifiably upset. I wonder if this, plus the steel tariff that went through a while ago, plus the threatened Canadian softwood tariff, plus whatever other protectionist crap is in the pipeline, might not be the beginning of international trade wars and subsequent worldwide recession, analogous to 1929.
What do subsidies have to do with campaign finance reform? Well, with both houses of the US Congress balanced on a knifes edge between the two parties, neither party has the votes to advance its agenda. But they can all agree that they all want to get re-elected this fall!
The recent farm and steel laws will result in huge, legal (even under the new finance law) contributions to incumbent politicians in key states this fall. And so I ask the supporters of campaign finance reform -- who do I see to ban this dirty money?