Federal Government For Sale

I have long held that the biggest problem in American politics is the undue influence of money in it. I readily admit that I am a partisan – I will make no apologies for my intelligence or education – but this transcends partisanship. Donald Trump has exacerbated the problem via the organized criminal enterprise he calls an administration. A recent Washington Post article highlighted it and is the catalyst for today’s article. Let’s explore.  

On October 29th Reane Merle’s article entitled, “Payday lenders discussed strategy to fend off regulations by raising money for Trump campaign, audio obtained by The Post reveals”. I recommend reading it if you want much more detail on the topic than this posting will provide. It outlines a webinar where payday lenders were encouraged to donate to and raise money for Trump in order to eliminate existing and protect against new consumer protection regulations.

While I primarily blame Trump for the record level and blatancy of corruption in Washington; he is not acting alone. The article outlines how in the case of the payday loan industry the RNC is the conduit. The RNC has defended their actions as doing their job by relaying the concerns of the people. My question is: Would they be so diligent in doing their job if the people in question were not significant donors? I think we all know the answer.

The industry is afraid of Maxine Waters and Elizabeth Warren in particular. What is the main thing they have in common? They are consumer advocates. Payday lending is a predatory industry. Its practices are deceptive and they take advantage of the least knowledgeable consumers at their moment(s) of weakness. That is their entire business model.

My first real job was in commercial banking. I was taught the 3 C’s of lending: capacity, character and credit. When determining whether to grant a loan you applied them to the applicant in that order. I want to concentrate on capacity today. It is simple – can the applicant afford to make the payments. The payday industry has fought an Obama-era rule that made them consider whether the applicant could afford to repay the money they borrowed. If you lend someone money and they cannot possibly repay the loan you didn’t help them; you just made the hole they are in deeper. That is immoral and it is also the profit model of the payday lending industry. The need for regulation is obvious!

Totally eliminating the influence of money in American politics is a pipedream and very possibly a violation of the First Amendment. I remember informally advising a young friend making his first run for public office. I knew he was going to lose but he was a good person with good moral character who really wanted to help his community and I liked him so I worked with him a bit (for free). In one of our late night calls he anticipated a dilemma because he was uncomfortable with the possibility of becoming beholden to large donors (of which I doubt he had many, if any). I presented a scenario to him. I said it has been a long day, you get home and you have ten messages from donors. You can’t possibly return them all that night; whose call do you return first? The answer is the biggest donor, unfair as that may seem. Unfortunately your ear is for sale in American politics but you have to maintain your integrity and your vote and action isn’t. You have to know that if you don’t vote or act the way your major donor wants you may effectively loose double the donation next cycle (They will not donate to you and will donate to your opponent). The trick is to match your policies and your donors’ philosophies. They should be supporters not purchasers.

Trump is a politician without a platform and is simply selling his influence to the highest donor.   It is classic pay for play.

Here is the really scary part: Trump’s shakedown of the payday lending industry is one small example. There are a plethora of other industries and the numbers are bigger.

This article was written well ahead of publishing in order to accommodate my travel schedule.

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