The almighty dollar

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s too late to save the country from big business.

While saying that may stretch my credibility dangerously thin, bear with me. I don’t mean to sound too much like the tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists or a perpetual malcontent.

Still, I fail to understand why we leave certain public affairs up to the high-octane capitalist machine that we have come to know so well.

Now, I know economy, industry and consumption are the core of the American Dream. The notion that ‘If you work hard enough, you can do anything’ weighs heavily on our lives.

Our very philosophies on identity and success are tightly intertwined with this ideal. The resultant pursuit of power and profit leads men astray more often than we’d like to admit.

Every day, we see corruption  in scandals and manufactured crises. The first thing that comes to my mind is the concept of private prisons.

As overcrowding has become an issue, companies have accepted government contracts to house inmates.

These same companies have been abusing the justice system in order to keep occupancy rates up. We saw the same ‘profit at all costs, ethics be damned’ mentality on the part of the financial sector during the financial meltdown that we’re not done pulling ourselves out of.

Politics itself has undergone a massive change since the Supreme Court case Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, a consequence of which was the legalization of independent political action committees. Basically, this means that individuals, companies and organizations can contribute unlimited amounts of money to fund campaigns that work parallel to a candidate running for office.

Given that the candidate with more campaign funding won 95 percent of House and 91 percent, it’s proof that money wins elections. Add the deep pockets of corporations and unions, and PACs become a powerful weapon for lobbyists.

Ever heard of the Make-a-Wish Foundation? They’re the good guys. Fulfilling the dreams of kids with life threatening medical conditions is good karma any way you slice it. I once had a cousin go through with a wish; he was the happiest kid in the world a few days later. Sure, it might have only been a PlayStation 2, but these things matter when you’re six.

Other kids want to be superheroes for a day or swim with dolphins; they make that happen too.

Charities like this exist by the dozens, but as with all good things, there are a few with questionable practices that ruin it for the rest. The dark underbelly eventually shows itself.

Kids Wish Network is one such organization, masquerading as a similar non-profit corporation to Make-a-Wish Foundation while funneling donations away from those in need.

The kids end up with a measly 3 percent of the money raised, the rest is written off as expenses and executive compensation, to a tune greater than  $100 million over the course of 10 years.

I hate to say it, but be careful with your good deeds. It’ll ensure they actually get done.