A television show in the days when TV was black-and-white dramatized what happened to people when someone gave them a million dollars, all taxes already paid, to spend as they wished. That was back when a million dollars was A MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!
I would sometimes sit in study hall trying to figure out how to spend one million dollars. Just spend it. Not invest it in something that would gain value. Just spend the whole darned thing.
That was back in the days when a new Cadillac cost more than two-thirds as much as my father earned in a year in a pretty good job as a district manager for Massey-Harris, the farm equipment company. We had a three-year old DeSoto.
I struggled to think of how I could just blow a million bucks.
One thing that never occurred to me was that I could buy a political candidate. Or an office-holder. They were a lot cheaper then. And I did live in Illinois. Governor William G. Stratton was a few years away yet from being accused of tax evasion. Unlike several of his successors, however, he was acquitted of his charges.
What must it be like to have an unlimited amount of money—a million dollars seemed unlimited to me all those years ago? What must it be like to just sit down one day and write out, say, almost SEVEN million dollars to front groups that can use that money to, shall we say, “favor” certain candidates in the August and November elections? Or the front group can use the money to personally and politically damage people who won’t sell out?
Rex Sinquefield and his wife wrote a bunch of checks one day last week. The Associated Press says the checks went to the Missouri Club for Growth, Missourians for Excellence in Government, and the Great St. Louis Committee. Someday we will reflect on what committees like those really should be named.
Do you ever wonder, as we sometimes do, what it must be like to just open a checkbook and write a check for $2,800,000 as easily as you might write a check for thirty dollars’ worth of groceries? Just write it, sign it, and rip it out of the book.
Or maybe $500,000 for the Eric Schmitt for State Treasurer Campaign. Or another $500,000 for the Kurt Schaefer for Attorney General Campaign. Or five checks totaling $2,133,128 to convince voters that people in St. Louis and Kansas City should stop paying the earnings taxes that provide the majority of city operational funding? And when you lose, well, it’s just money.
Just sit down and dash them off.
We haven’t mentioned that the Sinquefields have donated all of $5,000 (note, only one comma and only four numbers) to the Missouri Republican Party. Why support a party that encourages all kinds of people to run for public office when you can write a check that supports only YOUR kind of people.
It’s June. It’s time for the mud and the money to start flowing in mass quantities. We wonder if many voters will begin to consider mass quantities of money flowing to particular candidates or to particular causes are toxic. We wonder if many voters will decide the beneficiaries of mass quantities of money or who benefit from the mud thrown at opposing candidates by political action committees financed by those mass quantities of money are good reasons to think somebody is trying to buy somebody else and is using their big-dollar checks to get something they want that the rest of us can’t afford to bid for.
We wonder if many voters will look at the beneficiaries of these funds and wonder if those candidates can really be THEIR kind of people or if they’re just the kind of people that a few can afford to put in favorable positions.
If we get the best government that money can buy, be worried that it could be the kind of government the rest of us cannot afford to have, perhaps run by those who will be less responsive to the rest of us because we are not THEIR kind of people.