Listening to pundits and some Republican advocates, I keep hearing the opinion that big money authorized by Citizens United, this Citizens United Supreme Court decision will not really make a difference in politics. When I hear this I am reminded of a common saying I’ve heard for many years–“Money talks and BS walks.”
This long-lived axiom, though crudely stated, could never be more true. All we need to do in order to tell the power of money is to look around at what is happening today. A recent example of how big money can affect relatively smaller offices is the case of Tuffy Hamilton. Tuffy was not defeated because of superior intellect, experience or lack of representing his constituents. He was drowned by money. Television ads, which are very expensive, were run sometimes three times, back to back to back, in prime television time.
This occurrence is further proof of what Adolph Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, once said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." What he could have added was that if you are able to promote the lie on the media with unlimited funds, too many people will begin to take it as common truth.
The power of money has been amply displayed, along with its effectiveness, by the public relations program put on by British Petroleum. There are constant series of ads touting how well Gulf Coast states are doing since the terrible oil spill of the Horizon Drilling rig. Slick and beautiful TV ads claim that never before have Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama done better than they have since the disastrous oil spill.
Unfortunately, it’s a one-sided fight. Advocates of a healthy ecology--the relationship between organisms and their environment--do not have the wherewithal to compete with such a well-orchestrated and well-funded public relations program. And so, no one is telling the BP disaster story of how many estuaries and hatching grounds for sea life have been destroyed or what future impact the residual chemicals placed in the Gulf of Mexico will have on future supplies of sea food, game fish or recreation. [For a continuously updated and documented review of the BP disaster and continuing degradation of the Gulf area and wildlife, go here.]
Another example of a one-sided fight is the constant TV ad campaign currently underway condemning the Environmental Protection Agency for its overbearing and job-killing regulations which the ads claim are holding the price of electrical power hostage. The ads begin with some phrase such as 'clean coal is being picked on' by an over-aggressive environmental agency which, the ads tout, has put in place overbearing, unnecessary regulations concerning air emissions.
How soon we forget! I recall when the entire family of one of my first cousins needed to move from Port Arthur, Texas, because they would periodically be beset with asthmatic attacks which were even life threatening. I had the misfortune of having to witness some of these attacks when I thought surely my cousins would die as they laid gasping for air unable to breathe. Since that time, science has told us that it was because of the unregulated and incessant emissions from the refineries which made a living for so many of us. How soon have people my age forgotten the insidious odors of pogy plants and refinery emissions which have all but disappeared because of government regulation.
Unfortunately, the power of money probably can sell the concept of clean coal and cause more animosity toward the regulators than to the polluters. No one will be there with the funds to buy equal time to remind us of cancers, leukemia, breathing problems and a multitude of other health hazards which are prevented by decent and reasonable regulations concerning emissions into the air we breathe, the water we drink and the earth upon which we walk.