Wednesday, June 07, 2006

True Cost of Power... $4 million in New Mexico

Yesterday saw all the joy and boredom of primary elections. It was just another grim reminder to me that every state in the union is ripe with low-brow individuals prepared to take the general public for a ride. There was little else discussed on the radio throughout the day, so I learned more than I wanted to about positions of which I was previously unversed. Supposedly, one of the hottest races in the state of New Mexico is for “Land Commissioner”. This is seen as such an important political position that the estimated coming primary is expected to cost the winning candidate in the neighborhood of $3-4 million. I believe the quote on the radio said, “The name of the game, in this race, is definitely money and the party that spends the most can take the office home.” Now I had a general assessment of what this job probably entailed just from the title, but I had to look-it-up to know for sure. This is what I found in the Albuquerque Tribune:


Duties: Makes rules that govern the management of state lands; considers applications for leases or purchases of state land and timber. Four-year term.

Salary: $90,000

Post held by: Pat Lyons, a Republican.

The race ahead: Two Democrats compete in the primary. The winner faces Lyons in November.

"Makes the rules that govern..." - that's funny I was under the impression that we the people made the rules.

Wow… $4 million dollars to win a position that pays $90k for 4 years for a grand total of $360k. Not a very good return on a $4 million investment… unless of course the politician is dirty and the kickbacks for the party, its friends and the elected official turn a profit well beyond their investment… but that never happens in America, right?

$4 million for a political position that is seemingly small compared to the notoriety of governor, senator and congressman. Who is donating so much money that our ever-honest two-party system can throw it around to minor elective offices throughout the country? I find it hard to believe that “Joe Schlub” complaining at the gas pump with a national average credit card debt of over $9k is writing checks to a political party to piss away at will. Sure a few of the elderly of our society are forking over their social security checks (ironically in an attempt to hold their preferred politician to the promise of keeping those checks coming from the government) – my wife’s 95-year-old grandmother is one of the donors. That amount of money is chump-change, though, in the greater political spectrum. Therefore it must be corporate parties with an axe-to-grind and a promise of profit.

Until this system of corruption implodes upon itself, I definitely have nostalgic feelings of cutting myself off from society. I say nostalgic, despite the fact that I have always been at the proverbial-tit of society and the comforts it affords me and my family. I suppose it is simply the concept of freedom in this current age that makes me feel nostalgic, rather than the fact that I have never lived without the comforts of society. I like my Digital Cable and the opportunity to flip a switch and let the guy at the power company worry about sending me my electricity. I drive an SUV because I appreciate not feeling the bumps on the gravel road to my home and studio, the cost of driving the vehicle has not yet started to pinch enough for me to swap it for a smaller car. However, I don’t like telephone companies handing over records of my phone calls to the government; I don’t appreciate that my e-mail is periodically scanned or that the government under the guise of the “Patriot Act” can search my home whether I am there or not and I may never even have knowledge of the visit. There are many days that I feel willing to give-up my comforts to move “off-the-grid” and start over without a phone (which I never really liked, so I probably wouldn’t miss), without the connection of cable-television and most importantly without dependence on a corporation for my power. Obviously, we are already perceived as children considering the high-level of government surveillance on its own citizens; as well as the innumerable laws created for the purpose of protecting us from ourselves. Having said that, I foresee a time when the corporate entity that has become our government will begin to take it upon itself to punish its citizens for refusing to “tow-the-line”. Bush lost California by a fairly large margin in 2000. A current belief running through numerous media outlets is that California’s rolling blackouts, of 2001, were arranged through a coalition of Enron and the Republican Party to punish the citizens and oust a Democratic Governor prior to the 2004 Presidential election. Now, I’m not saying this definitely occurred, but if this is true, it could be the beginning stages of governmental retribution towards citizens that choose to exercise their freedom.

Artists, in particular, would find these to be very dark days indeed. If I could, I’d ask Michelangelo and Leonardo how much they enjoyed producing under the guise of their religious leadership; I’d also pose the same questions to artists under the control of leaders such as Stalin or our current reemerging Taliban in Afghanistan. It’s all fun and games and not really a problem… until you’re the one told not to speak. - DN

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