Sunday, June 14, 2009

Do Politicians work for cash?

An unusually frank statement by someone trying to get some favourable government decisions: we bought tickets to a political fundraising dinner, and we got the decisions we wanted.

The headline is: "Barrie gets more than dessert after Liberal dinner, Guergis says":

A private $100,000 dinner supporting the Liberal Party of Ontario really paid off for Barrie, according to Simcoe County Warden Tony Guergis.
Held May 29, 2008, the $5,000-per-plate fundraiser at a private residence had community and business leaders lobbying Premier Dalton McGuinty and several of his cabinet ministers on three key items: a Royal Victoria Hospital expansion, cash for a new Georgian College building, and more land for Barrie.
This spring, all three wishes were granted.

Of course, this might be a local person telling his constituents: I did what I had to do, and I delivered. There are more people claiming that they were the ones who got a decision made, than there are people who actually have this kind of clout. More generally, the people who give politicians money and gifts must think it works--otherwise why do it? The same people probably believe in advertising. Does it work?

We're in a financial crisis brought about partly by senior people in the financial industry who made irrational decisions, instead of rational ones. They too can suffer from group think, and mass hysteria.

In the U.S. I think it's more clear that if a corporation gives to a politician, that politician delivers. There is less party discipline than here, and more transparency in voting by legislators.

This all relates to poor Mulroney. It seems likely that his buddies or ex-buddies made extravagant promises to anyone they could find, including Schreiber, to the effect that they had the ear of the Prime Minister, and they could deliver on multi-million dollar projects. Their saying so doesn't mean they even intended to twist Mulroney's arm, much less that he made key decisions in response to rivers of cash flowing to his buddies, and possibly to him. Mulroney kept the Bear's Head file alive, meeting personally with Schreiber even on short notice, with major crises brewing on other files. Does this mean that Mulroney had agreed to be in the paid employ of the companies whose money Schreiber was spending, or simply that he was shrewd about keeping golden eggs for himself and buddies, regardless of his decisions?

Mulroney may have told himself that he was honest with the public--not making decisions based on who paid the most in private--while being ruthlessly dishonest with Shreiber and others--promising to do things he had no intention of doing. The stories he is teling still come across like a tissue of lies.

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