Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Salt Lake City Council Puts Democracy Out of Reach

this is an audio post - click to play

As Heather May reports in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Salt Lake City Council recently voted to raise contribution limits for candidates for mayor and the city council. Mayoral candidates can now take $10,000 from every rich person, up from $7,500, while council candidates can now take $2,000 from every rich person, up from $1,500.

Councilman Dave Buhler, who proposed the change, said he was just trying to keep up with inflation.

The limits which existed prior to the increase were already far out of the reach of the vast majority of the citizens of Salt Lake City, where the median household income is around $37,000 before taxes. After factoring in taxes, health care, education for their kids and all the other demands life makes on us all, how much does the average Salt Lake resident have to give to political campaigns? $100 maybe? A couple hundred?

The prior limits were already the equivalent of a piñata hung 100 feet in the sky, completely untouchable by 99% of the folks living in Salt Lake City. And yet, Buhler and his fellow council members felt the need to yank on the rope and pull the piñata even further out of reach.

Inflation? 100 years of constant inflation wouldn't bring the limits down to a level regular folks in Salt Lake City could afford, and that's their justification? The reality is that raising the limits further increases the ability of a few wealthy interests to bankroll the campaigns of the candidates who agree with their positions, leaving the rest of us swinging blindly at the democracy that ought to be there, but isn't.

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