December 2008 Archives

A lot of money, wasted

Did You Have Some Money?I found an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune today. According to the article, Obama raised (and presumably spent) nearly one billion dollars for his campaign (including related efforts).


That's a lot of zeros. If you look at the breakdown (so you don't have to read the article), it's about $770 million for the campaign, $100 million to the DNC (not counting monies that went to his campaign), $61 million for the convention in Denver, and an estimated $50 million for the inauguration events.

That's truly incredible fund raising, especially when you consider that his campaign was less than 2 years long. Where does all that money go? There's a lot of profit to all the vendors--signage, brochures, vehicle (air and land) charter, broadcast, food, reception halls, etc--and of course salaries of the staffers.

Could you imagine the good that would occur if even half of that money went to charitable organizations? If you look at some of the larger ones (with higher operating costs), you can feed a starving child for less than $1/day. Do the math, I'll wait. Did you come up with more than 2.7 million children getting fed for 10 years? I did. Money is desperately needed in this country as well. That billion may not go as far here, but it still could put a lot of food into food pantries, help homeless shelters, etc. I'll stop here; I think you get my point.

I think the time has come for some sort of reform on campaign spending. Here are some ideas I have.

  • What if we forced candidates to give even 30% of what they raise to a charity (of their choosing, but must be a 501(c)(3))?
  • What if vendors to a campaign must take everything over their cost and donate it to a charitable organization? This one is harder to police--vendors could cook the books, and probably wouldn't be too keen on opening up their books for public scrutiny.
  • This is similar to the first thought, but slightly different. What if candidates setup their fundraising so that it would be easy for donors to give to both their campaign and one of a few charities that fit well with the views of the campaign?

I'm sure there are other things we could do--this is just a start. Hopefully something will change before the next election cycle starts in 12 months. We all know that these numbers aren't going down...

(Photo by MrR Photography)

License Plate Covers

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Well that was easier than I thought it would be. Let me back up and explain the story.

You may remember a month or so ago when I got pulled over for having a "(TINTED) LICENSE PLATE COVER" that was really clear. I decided to not pay the fine ($75--$105 with traffic school/supervision since it was a moving violation. Are you kidding me?) and spend a morning in court.

Today was my morning in court. I arrived a few minutes early--surprisingly the lines for the metal detectors were empty--and was greeted by a flurry of lawyers/public defenders finding their clients, but only 2 officers, neither of which were mine. At exactly 9am, in stroll 6 officers together. One looks like he could have been my officer, but not quite a fit, so I'm pretty sure my officer didn't even bother to show.

Out of the 10 or so cases before me, most were DUIs, and most were continued for one reason or another. 2 cases before mine, the guy had the same officer (by badge number). The court asked for the officer, someone mentioned that he also had court in Addison this morning and was on his way up. Petty offense, case dismissed, officer not present. My hunch was correct. During the next case, the officer strolls in. Oh well, can't get off on a technicality.

I'm called up. The judge looks at the citation and I could almost see her rolling her eyes.

Judge: Did you remove the tinted license plate cover
Me: Yes Ma'am, I have photographs as well.
States Attorney: (looks at photos; reads license plate to judge for verification)
Judge: Case dismissed.
Me: Thank you.

That was it. I have my license back, and it only cost me an hour of my time to keep a silly thing off my record. I'm glad it was treated as a simple fix-it ticket and not a moving violation. If it had been written as a fix-it, I believe I could have just gone to the station to clear it up and not had to waste anyone's time other than my own.

In general, the judge seemed like she was having a good day and was pretty laid back. The officer had at least 2 (didn't stick around to find out if he had any more) cases dismissed today. Does that count against them? These things I do not know...

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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