I lie in bed luxuriating in the end of Daylight Savings Time and the extra hour we gained by setting our clocks back an hour. The sun that pierced through the south-facing window at seven o’clock is now hidden behind heavy mist that threatens to gather force and turn to rain. Mist and rain are a perfect excuse for a “lie-in.”
My right hand holds a cup of black coffee. I cradle the hot cup to my cheek and savor its warmth. My left arm crooks over my belly. My fingers splay at my waist and pinch an inch… or more likely, an inch and a half. I rue the Green & Black dark chocolate that I ate last night while streaming Grand Hotel on Netflix.
Life is good. I am warm, well fed, loved, and secure. It is easy to be complacent. But then, I listen to the radio and I get torqued-up.
NPR Weekend Edition 11/2 plays in the background. I listen to “Human Pyramids,” a feel-good story about the separatist movement in northeast Spain. For many years, the Catalans have wanted to separate from the central power in Madrid. On November 9, they will cast a non-binding vote just to see how close they are to a majority.
That is the background. The story itself was on the centuries-old, Catalan practice of building human pyramids. The strongest men form the circular base and from that point on, tier atop of tier, people climb up as high as they can. This practice is not a one-off event; rather, towns and villages have teams that rehearse weekly.
Quoting one participant, Aureli Bisbe, the pyramid building is “a symbol of what citizens can achieve if they work together.” I love this very physical dependence on your neighbors. I need to recommend it to Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, Colorado – two towns in cheek-by-jowl proximity which despite historic enmity are trying to work more closely together. I’ve notice a move to refer to the tows as “The Cliffs.” This is healthy, but perhaps if we started building human pyramids, we could attract more tourists AND build togetherness at the same time.
But following this story, Weekend Edition (broadcast over KRCC our local public radio station) interrupted regularly scheduled programming for fund-raising. The plea for donations has seemingly gone on for weeks and weeks. According to the station, only one in ten listeners donates to the station. I am getting hot. What is it with these people. Have they never heard of putting their money where their mouth is? They should donate.
After the fund-raising interruption, I listen to a piece on mid-term elections. Funding political campaigns is another hot-button issue for me. When are we going to address campaign finance reform? I know that we have spent a ton of money on sound-bite TV ads, but how much? I do an Internet search.
Scanning the slew of sources, I come to a piece titled, “What Campaign Spending? Americans Spend More on Halloween Than on Midterms.” This from FOX NEWS. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/what-campaign-spending-americans-spend-more-on-halloween-than-on-all-midterm/. Intrigued, I read the article. Their numbers have us spending $ 4 billion thus far on the mid-term campaign. In contrast, spending on Halloween is projected by the National Retail Federation to reach $ 7.4 billion. Other expenditures include cosmetic surgery, $ 7 billion; pet boarding and grooming, $ 4.4 billion; and porn, $10 to $12 billion.
Reading on I come across a quote from Paul Sherman, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice. Sherman said, “When you realize that people spend more on trivial things like candy corn and fake vampire teeth, it puts political spending in perspective.”
To my mind, this quote veers off the debate track. The real issue is that when rich Republicans and Democrats donate millions of dollars, they are in effect buying the election because (like those of lesser means who fail to give to Public Radio) election voters of more modest means feel as though their money is going down a rat hole.
This money-talks scenario is like a town meeting where those who are loudest out-shout those who are just as opinionated but more quiet. If we are all equal and every vote counts, how is it that some citizens, given their wealth, are more equal?
My lie-in comes to a screeching halt. I am up and seething.
If you are in the mood for more distressing news, check out “Buying Your Vote – Dark Money and Big Data” at http://www.propublica.org/investigations.