Get the money out

We need the money out of both parties. Everyone knows it, but we don’t seem to be able to do it. Why? Because the parties aren’t putting up honest people, by and large.

You remember all the scandals related to Mylan and Senator Joe Manchin. His daughter is Heather Bresch, the CEO. Mylan bought the patent of this lifesaving product (developed with taxpayer money), moved HQ overseas to avoid paying US taxes…jacked the price of epipens by nearly 500%, successfully lobbied the government to require schools to buy more pens, and then donated a bunch of money to Manchin. Government money pouring in to Mylan spiked after Bresch became CEO, and her compensation jumped by about 600%, to nearly $19 million/year. It doesn’t take a business genius to make huge profits, with 40% of your revenue coming from something like epipens: it just takes greed, arrogant disregard, a complete lack of empathy–and connections. Because as we all know, suspicions of cronyism and nepotism abounded when  WVU “mysteriously” issued Bresch an MBA she didn’t earn, so she could take the job of COO, later to be promoted to CEO.

Democrats may think the only purchased politicians are on the “other team,” but it’s pretty clear that Manchin is out for himself, not for voters.

Rank and file Republican voters, by contrast, may instinctually believe that Democrats are the dirty ones. But no party is immune from being infiltrated by self-serving narcissists.

For instance, to start relatively small, take Delegate Woody Ireland, the Republican from WV House District 7 who got a sweetheart deal from Antero, with huge royalties… 18%, to be exact! Coincidentally–or not!–he was pushing the forced pooling bill, which would have forced regular people to lease their mineral rights at a price the gas and oil companies name–and with only a minimum of 12.5% royalties in compensation.

Market price, they claim? Well, it’s not a free market when no one has the power to hold out for a better price. And how are regular people to negotiate for a better royalty rate, say 18%, when they legally have no power to negotiate? Ireland’s negotiations got him a sweetheart deal, that’s for sure. Of course, the companies could always purchase or lease these mineral rights by offering a price that the owners felt was worth it. But they don’t want to have to negotiate and give any significant profit to the owners. They’d rather buy politicians and then legally force the owners to sell/lease low and be unable to even negotiate royalty rates… because their legal ability to do so has been removed. BOUGHT.

There is more to protect than just what’s beneath the ground.

Appalachian politicians must recognize that there is more to protect than just what is beneath the ground. They must not run to protect gas and oil company profits so they’ll win kickbacks to get them re-elected. They must make it their purpose to represent people who can’t pay lobbyists for special access and special treatment.

Until we have public financing, then we’ll see races like the senatorial race in the eastern panhandle, where more than $500,000 is spent by outside groups.

And our public financing plan must be mandatory—in all races. If it’s not, all public financing will do is save SuperPACs money to use in other races. If they don’t have to spend $500K to buy a state senate race, they can use their savings to buy more U.S. senators like Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.

Or, you know. They could use that saved money to raise wages for workers, increase benefits, give vacations, increase worker safety, and so on. But as a wise man once said, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

How ironic that the wealthy in this country often claim to follow the teachings of that wise man.

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