In 2011 there were 12,633 registered lobbyists in Washington who spent $3.30 billion to lobby congress. The top spender is the US Chamber of Commerce at more than $805 million. Among the top 7 spenders are 4 national associations representing health-care industries. Together, they outspent the Chamber of Commerce by almost $70 million. That money adds to the total costs of health care. We now have so many people who can’t afford health insurance that our Maine governor and state legislature says we can no longer afford to provide services to all of them.
More than that, the Citizens United decision has inspired a campaign-spending frenzy by the top 1%. President Obama has joined it. His campaign is expected to reach $1 billion dollar. Very expensive speech, definitely not free. Senator Snow has raised more than $1 million from sources outside of Maine, more than 3 times as much as from inside. Billions to the so-called “job creators,” but those funds won’t be creating sustainable jobs in local communities that could prevent the problems of poverty. And that money won’t be paying down the national debt either.
The economic gap between the top 1% and the rest of us has been widening at an accelerating pace for at least 30 years. We have to turn the tide, and tides do not turn easily. It requires the kind of effort on many fronts at once that it took to beat back voting rights restrictions here in Maine. It looks like it requires more effort than we can manage on a piece-meal basis, one issue at a time. It requires a total transformation of cultural values about economic justice, like the transformations still in progress about race and gender equality.
Our whole culture, including the 99%, is occupied by the love of money. We are trained to it. It’s the American dream, and it’s an addictive love. To recover, we all need to give up the dream and abstain from compulsive allegiance to wealth. It is neither morally right nor economically sustainable that the CEO of WalMart earns $16000 an hour while the typical WalMart associate earns only $10 and is advised to go to Maine Care for health insurance. I urge you to join the Occupy Movement. Take to the streets with us. Go viral on social media. Let’s claim our rights to free speech and infuse ourselves and our economic and political systems with the spirit of righteous justice for all.