LIGHTHOUSE LETTERS: Winners From December
Each month, The Pilot reprints the letters judged to be the best from the previous month. The year's best will be honored at a luncheon.
FROM DEC. 9: Health-care and health-insurance companies and associations have long anticipated the federal government's reform of their industry. Therefore, they have been mobilizing over the last couple of election cycles in an attempt to shape that reform.
Campaign contributions from lobbyists and their clients clearly illustrate the intensity with which these organizations are attempting to influence Capitol Hill. Health-care companies and associations have hired legions of lobbyists who in recent years have created a notable -- and until now, largely unseen -- web of campaign contributions benefiting members of Congress.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield, through efforts of 61 lobbyists, funneled an average of $281,080 to members of Congress.
Individual lobbyists enhance the political power of the organizations they're paid to represent. Industry groups and companies such as the Pharmaceutical Researchers & Manufacturers of American and Amgen Inc. top the list, as they have combined with their dozens of lobbyists -- wittingly or not -- to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to several dozen members of Congress. Latest count, 131 lobbyists paid $108,405 to each of 32 members of Congress.
The numbers of congressional members who have received campaign contributions both from health-related organizations and the outside lobbyists they've hired have exceeded the billion-dollar threshold. Contribution "bundles" combining the health-care, pharmaceutical and insurance industries and their hired lobbyists have delivered millions to North Carolina congressional and senatorial representatives.
Are there any reservations from our elected representatives who received more than $100,000 on average in the second quarter of 2009? Not really. They line their political coffers while Americans are dying from no health care.
Grandpa Knew Best
FROM DEC. 9: I miss my grandpa.
By this time of year, the neighbors would have brought food from their farms by the truckloads. The canning would be done, and the cellars would be stocked for the winter. No money would change hands, just neighbors helping neighbors.
Grandpa knew what was going on in the world even though he had no TV or Internet. He didn't trust banks and kept his money on his hip, protected by Smith & Wesson. He wouldn't use Grandma's phone because he conducted all of his business face-to-face. He stood on his principles and always found a way to provide for his family.
He opened a produce stand on N.C. 67 just east of Booneville, on the family farm. Later, he lost the farm because he wouldn't charge sales tax on a man's food.
He was a Democrat who voted when he could find a Democrat worthy of his vote. He always said the hospital was a place to go to die. When he was 84, he slipped in the shower and broke his hip, caught pneumonia and died. He owed no one when he died, and his possessions barely put him in the ground. Now, at 62, I still miss my grandpa.
We can no longer keep the money we make in our back pockets, since 50 percent of it must go to someone else who needs it more. I have lost faith in our government ever standing for the principles on which this country was founded. Common sense seems to be a thing of the past.
Old-fashioned values and traditions are fading away. But during this holiday season, I will still say Merry Christmas. I hope you will too.
My Money, Your Crime
FROM DEC. 30: I'm just a dumb engineer, not a lawyer, so let me get this straight:
A mean ol' businessman goes to the senator and sez, "What's it gonna take to buy your vote?" After some negotiation, they make a deal. Everyone screams, "Bribery! Corruption!"
Harry Reid goes to the senator and sez, "What's it gonna take to buy your vote?" After some negotiation, they make a deal. Everyone laughs, "Just politics!"
What's the difference? Only one I can think of is the businessman is using his own money and Harry is using mine!
Since almost all the politicians are lawyers, I'm sure I'm missing something -- bribery and extortion aren't crimes when you're using my money.
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