When the rich and powerful control what we see, what we read and how we vote

Lots of talk out there — and here in the offices of Capitol Hill Blue — about “taking back America.”

But take it back from whom?

And if we could take it back, would whomever we give it to do any better?

If you buy into the philosopy that America is in the hands of crooks, who turned her over to this band of thieves?

Was it us by our votes?

Was it the Supreme Court with decisions that allows billionaires to pump unlimited funds into elections in an effort to control the outcome?

Was it the media?

If America is on the road to oblivion, who is driving?

In an ideal world, the answer would be simple.  It’s you bucko.  It’s me. It’s us.

But this is not an ideal world. The American political system is a corrupt parody of the ideals set forth by the founding fathers.  The concept of a democratic republic are gone, replaced by a money-driven, power-hungry system controlled by the uber-rich on both the right and the left.

Those of the extreme right have the Koch brothers.  The left has George Soros.  Lurking in the background on both sides are other fatcats like Sheldon Adelman for conservatives and Jeff Bezos for liberals.

Neither side listens to or has a need for the middle class or the poor. They don’t have enough money to be heard. They don’t have a voice.

So we’re left with an election where both candidates for office are determined by the rich, the powerful and the connected. Democratic process? Sorry, wrong century. Democracy is dead.  The checkbook is the new majority. Dollars count, not votes.

Up until last Friday, my “other job” was shooting photographs and writing news articles for Media General as a contract journalist for their community newspaper group in Southwestern Virginia.

Starting today, I work for Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, who bought 63 newspapers from Media General.

Buffet says he believes in the future of “community newspapers,” the small-to-medium size dailies and weeklies that serve small towns and communities like the one where my wife and I live and where I write and shoot photos for the local paper.

“In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper,” Buffet says.

As a journalist who considers himself first and foremost a newspaperman, I hope he’s right.  Buffet promises local autonomy for the papers he owns.  I hope he keeps that promise.

But I also have to wonder, in the back of my mind, if the rich and powerful control and corrupt the political process, can we be at ease when they also control the media.

Oh well.  At least Capitol Hill Blue is still locally-owned.

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4 Responses to "When the rich and powerful control what we see, what we read and how we vote"

  1. Pondering_It_All  June 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    You will be in a position to answer the question: Did Buffet buy all of those local newspapers to influence politics directly, or did he do it because he believes in the role of The Fourth Estate at every level of government. (Obviously he didn’t do it to make a fortune, by cornering the market in local paper cash-cows! :)

    In the bigger picture, aren’t local papers inherently anti-corporate, by their very nature, because they allow more opinions, more views on various issues, uncontrolled by the mega-media corporations? Isn’t that idea Liberal, even if the individual owners/editors of those papers are Conservative?

  2. Doug Thompson  June 26, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Many community newspapers are merely repositories for news releases, grip-in-grin photos and local bulletin boards. A few, including the ones I work for, make an honest attempt at covering local news and issues. My local newspaper avoids opinion columns and sticks to news.

    As for Buffet’s intentions, my plan for now is to wait and see.

  3. Jim B.  June 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Interesting, Doug!….I guess in these polarized and politically tumultuous times, if Buffett carries out his plans to become a “local newspaper” potentate, I can’t think of a more benevolent one. Somehow, I don’t the feeling of dread and foreboding that I would if the Koch bros were following the same strategy….but good luck, just in case. :)

  4. Jon  June 27, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Obviously, the solution is to become rich and powerful.

    I’m going to buy a lottery ticket.

    Not that it’ll help – Forty or fifty million is nice, but it’s not a patch on a billionaire.

    J.

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