Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Columns

On buying votes

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:47 PM

It's apparently news-worthy to report that the political party which won the recent presidential election in Mexico used "gift cards" to buy votes. According to current reports, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) handed out cards reported to be loaded with 500 pesos ($37.50) to "thousands" promising to vote PRI. Apparently, however, when those thousands mobbed stores to redeem the cards, they discovered that they contained only 100 pesos, or about $7.50. We seem to never learn that politician's promises are seldom kept.

Is that really "news"? Politicians around the globe have been doing that for as long as anyone cares to remember. Right here in the good-ole U.S. of A., we've practiced that sleazy business, openly, for at least three generations.

We refer to our form of "gift cards" as various types of government assistance, including such as free medical care, unemployment handouts, overly generous retirement benefits to government employees, cash-back to persons paying no income tax, low-interest student loans, and, especially, those so-called "food stamps." Recent reports tell even of how, in place of traditional "food stamps," which were not to be used to purchase anything other than basic, healthful groceries, Mr. Obama's government is to issue cards that can actually, and legally, be turned into cash, which can then be used to buy lottery tickets, tobacco, beer, and ball park tickets. And Obama's new gift cards are loaded with 50-times the cash value of those criticized Mexican ones.

While all of those "gift cards" rather clearly involve cash payments of some type, there are others which, while less obvious, are still undeniable attempts to by votes. For example, when the President ignores Federal law, and suspends deportation of illegal immigrants, he is, in fact, giving them something of significant, but unspecified, monetary value.

Yes, our politicians use "gift cards" to buy votes. One wonders why, then, it is news when a Mexican politician hands out cards valued at less than ten bucks, when our elected officials routinely distribute "cards" worth hundreds a month to their potential supporters?

When I think on this subject, I recall a statement made to me by a learned professor, in a university in Praha, Czech Republic. As I best recall his words, he wondered: Why do you Americans seem to get excited and upset when you discover that one or another of your elected officials is amoral, corrupt, or criminal? We here in Europe have long accepted that all politicians are of that undesirable cast, and expect nothing more when we vote for one.


Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at jgn@jgnash.com.
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