Pine Nuts: Something funny happened on the way to the forum

McAvoy Layne

The U.S. Senate has long been known as the “Millionaire’s Club, but now, for the first time, over half of the members of the House are millionaires.

Does that make us officially an oligarchy?” It depends upon who you ask.

We do know that the concentration of wealth we are experiencing is not compatible with a healthy democracy, or as Mark Twain might like to remind us, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

By the way, the richest guy in the House gave us the car alarm — the biggest public nuisance since karaoke.

If ever there was a testament for the importance of revisiting our Citizens United Supreme Court Ruling, it is this quote from Secretary of State John Kerry, “I’m very blessed to be in a position where I can work on these issues full-time without having to go out and raise money and without having to worry about the domestic politics of it. I can focus on the substance, focus on the challenge, focus on the facts, and try to get something done.”

This acknowledgment comes from a former senator, now statesman, who laments having wasted so much time raising money as a politician, when that time could have been spent focusing on the substance, focusing on the challenge, focusing on the facts, and trying to get something done.

We have become the country of Holy Speculators. We bow our heads and pledge allegiance to “one nation under God,” then go to work next day and short the US of A.

It is my personal conviction that Steve Wynn and Jamie Dimon could switch jobs in the middle of the night and carry on the next day with nobody being the wiser.

Money should be used to purchase goods, gift to charity, and invest in education. Money’s not for throwing off the back of trains for votes.

Yet thanks to Citizens United it is quite alright to throw unseemly amounts of cash at mendicant politicians. During the 2012 presidential campaign one man, Harold Simmons, threw more than $26.9 million at super PACs.

This is a practice that is corrupting. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, 300 individuals now hold a combined total of $3.7 trillion in wealth, more than the gross domestic product of every nation in the world except us and China.

As of this January 2014, there is not the likes of a Nelson Mandela, a Mahatma Gandhi, or a Martin Luther King, Jr. who could run for office in America without the backing of a super PAC and get elected to an office above the level of dog catcher.

Can we right this ship of state? Yes. Our ship of state will right herself when politicians like John Kerry become statesmen and start thinking about the next generation instead of the next election, and when we revisit Citizens Mammon, euphemistically called Citizens United.

Should we choose to continue down this road our republic will be a de facto monarchy by the end of this century. You might be saying, “You are so wrong!” And I do hope I am wrong.

Meanwhile, we shall continue to sustain the best government money can buy.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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