Public campaign financing could end big donor rule of government

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Paul Birmingham, a friend of the parents of victim Gina Montaldo, writes on a cross placed in her memory at a makeshift memorial outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, in Parkland, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Another mass shooting. Another round of thoughts and prayers. And likely another failure to keep automatic and semiautomatic weapons off the market and particularly out of the hands of the mentally disturbed.

However, the system does work well for big-donating special interests like the National Rifle Association which pours millions of dollars into election campaigns to get its way in spite of public opinion.

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This is the same playbook used by financial institutions, oil companies, pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and a long list of other special interests to prevail over the public interest.

Politicians often calculate that they gain more from television ads in their favor than they lose from public awareness of who is paying for them. This perverse incentive is baked into the system.

Yes, the system is rigged. We have government of, by, and for big donors. Donald Trump, to his advantage, articulated this during the campaign, but once in office has taken the money and favored the donors. Money talks. Those who pay the piper call the tune. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Follow the money.

But there is a game-changing concept: If we want government to work for everyone, then everyone must pay for election campaigns.

For as little as $10 yearly per person, over two years we could raise more than $6 billion to fund federal election campaigns. This could restore shaken faith in our system and be an unprecedented bargain for transforming our presumed democracy into a true democracy.

Richard Barsanti, Western Springs

Stop the shooting

This. Must. Stop. Since the Sandy Hook school shooting five years ago — when many spoke up, saying “this must stop” — there have been 1607 mass shootings (four or more shot), more than one a day.

And yet, rather than pass strict gun laws (which the state of Maryland did), most states passed more-lenient gun laws. The political motivation is understandable: half the people champion gun rights, half favor more gun control, and the GOP finds gun rights advocates a great target audience for them. As a result, we have death after death, and yet the GOP keeps advocating to their gun rights base by passing more lenient gun laws.

Lee Knohl, Evanston

Weak gun laws

There is no reason to believe that President Donald Trump will reduce gun violence. Trump and his republican acolytes do all they can to support the National Rifle Association, assault weapons proponents, firearms zealots, hunters and trophy hunters. They shamelessly do nothing to protect children, women, the elderly, men and wildlife species that are the deadly victims of mass killings, homicides and bloodshed and carnage in the killing fields. During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly bragged about being politically supported by the National Rifle Association. Our European allies are appalled by our nation’s weak gun laws and by our [resident’s lack of interest to implement meaningful gun-control measures.

Brien Comerford, Glenview

Back-door deals

Kudos to the Sun-Times on its endorsement of Frederick “Fritz” Kaegi for Cook County assessor, an office currently riddled with corruption, nepotism, favoritism and back-door deals.

Hopefully, this will be the start in removing the “stale air” of incumbent government “dinosaurs” sticking with their status quo agenda while punishing the taxpayers. Our citizens need a “breath of fresh air.”

Steve Maciontek, Avondale

I hope we can survive

The IRS tables Americans will use to compute their taxes due April 15 will reportedly under-compute taxes due. Americans may think the recent “tax cuts” are helping them. Sadly, their taxes computed in 2019, AFTER the election, will show extra taxes owed for most of us.

The recent tax revisions will help only the wealthy, and the rest of us will be forced to scratch for crumbs. Our deductions for property taxes and state income taxes will have a combined ceiling of approximately $10,000. That will cost us more and decrease the value of our homes.

We can take comfort, though, in thetweet by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who bragged that he knew a secretary who was seeing a tax savings of $1.50 a week! I don’t know how many weeks Ryan thought there are in a year, but 52 times $1.50 is not a windfall for a secretary who is probably already underpaid.

Republicans’ unmitigated gall and their complete lack of concern for those who do the work of our nation are astounding. In spite of declining polls and the fact that a majority of Americans are against the Republican agenda, they forge ahead. It’s like Republicans don’t care what happens to the rest of us as long as they keep their billionaire donors happy. Their only goal for now is to keep those donations coming and they look to the future of lucrative private sector jobs financed by these same donors, after they leave office.

Our nation and our democracy are in a sad state, indeed. I only hope we can survive and restore the promise of America.

Karen Wagner, Rolling Meadows

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