Machine Design, Editorial Comment
November 2, 2000

I once wondered why one Wall Street bank would make campaign contributions to Democrats while another would contribute to Republicans. I assumed Wall Street banks have common interests and thus would contribute to the same political party. Then I learned that campaign contributions are part of the lucrative business of underwriting government bonds. In the trade it is called Pay to Play.

Specific industries, however, normally favor only one particular political party. The automobile industry is said to back mostly Republicans, while Hollywood and the entertainment industry solidly back Democrats. The perception is that businessmen generally don't back Democrats, so the Gore campaign bashes big business in general, especially companies in the pharmaceutical, oil, insurance, and tobacco industries, all portrayed as malevolent influences. This spiel plays well to the galleries.

Personally, I don't look to politicians to serve my financial interests. My welfare never seems to depend upon who is president, and my voting isn't aimed at trying to get handouts or financial favors. It's aimed at trying to prevent other people from getting them.

During the current presidential campaign, the candidates of both major parties took pains to describe their visions for America. Unfortunately, all their visions involve handing out lots of federal money in a blatant attempt to buy votes.

My reaction to all this is: Stop it! Stop it right now! That's my money you're spending. I don't want to pay for your vision of America. I have my own vision, and it is oriented around trying to keep the money I earn.

Last spring I tallied up my income taxes, including federal, state, and two local income taxes. In 1999 my wife and I gave more than 25% of our income to government jurisdictions of one variety or another just for income taxes. That doesn't include my property tax, our 7.5% state and county sales tax, nor other various levies. With our kids out of the house and no mortgage interest to deduct, my marginal tax rate -- the portion of the next dollar I earn paid into my four income taxes -- is a rate I consider confiscatory. So enough is enough. Stop it with the vision thing.

Also, during the campaign I heard a lot about how much Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman would fight for us. Even the message wrapping up the tribute to Mr. Gore at the Democratic convention was: "Al Gore. Married 30 years. Father of four. Fighting for us." I don't know whether or not George Bush intends to fight for us, but it wouldn't surprise me if he also made a similar promise. Everyone running for office wants to fight for us.

Hey, save yourself the trouble. Every time a politician fights for me, it costs me money or limits my choices and freedoms in one way or another. And take note of this: Mr. Lieberman has accused Mr. Bush of wanting to spend government money on tax cuts. Catch the logic. He thinks taking less of our money is "spending."

If the next President wants to fight for me, then what I want are candidates who aren't owned by labor, trial lawyers, teachers unions, and other pressure groups. The battle to get the White House out from under their control is one fight I'd like to see.

-- Ronald Khol, Editor