George Graham

Show Them the Money


The FIFA scandal is just one more affirmation that it’s a pay-to-play world. It’s regrettable, of course, but it seems that’s how most folks like it.

They don’t want justice; they want an edge.

The pundits can wring their hands and cry shame all they want but it seems the great majority of ordinary folks shrug their shoulders and figure that’s just the way it is and they should learn to work with it.

If Diogenes and his lantern were around today, he would still be searching for an honest man. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak, as the Good Book says.

Most people would like to think of themselves as honest – until they get into trouble. If they have a brother-in-law in the mayor’s office, they’ll tap him to fix their parking ticket.

Sometimes this pay-to-play attitude is quite harmless.  Nobody gets hurt when three American businessmen shell out $150,000 to play a pro-am round of golf with Rory McIlroy in the Irish Open.  Indeed the cash goes to a good cause – McIlroy’s foundation, which supports children’s charities around the world.

But when a politician takes a substantial “campaign contribution” in exchange for shredding environmental protection laws, the consequences can be dire.

Unfortunately, that’s the way the political system works in the United States today. The Supreme Court decided that American corporations and individuals should be free to contribute as much as they like to their favorite politicians. I’m sure the generous donors expect to influence the way those politicians vote. Aren’t you?

The opportunity to get their pet agendas implemented has not escaped billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. They’re reaching into their deep pockets to buy themselves a (Republican) politician or two. Left-leaning moneybags like George Soros and Tom Stayer have stepped in to bolster the Democrats.

That leaves you and me (with our nickels and dimes) on the outside looking in. American politics has become a high-stakes game.

It’s not just America, of course. Indeed, America only earned an “honorable mention” in a recently released list of the world’s most corrupt countries.  In his book, “Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust,” author Darrell West reports:

The top one percent own about one-third of the assets in America and 40 percent of assets around the world. This concentration of financial resources in many countries gives the ultra-rich extraordinary influence over elections, public policy, and governance.

The burning question now is this: Is there any way of changing things for the better? We could hope for a massive revolt by voters fed up with blatant misgovernment. But in the prevailing climate of cynicism, voters are staying home in droves, apparently convinced that their vote is irrelevant.

President Obama suggested making it mandatory to vote. But that kind of change isn’t likely when the plutocrats are calling the shots, is it?

Click for the FIFA scandal.

Click for more on West’s book.

Click for a closer look at Wall Street’s tactics.

Click for more on billionaires in politics.

Click for more on mandatory voting.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for