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It's time to govern the flow of political money


Fri, Oct 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

There was a time when I believed that the best way to curtail the impact of money flowing into our political system was to monitor it. Make sure that campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures were reported quickly and accurately, I reasoned, and journalists and the American public could determine for themselves what they could tolerate.

Transparency is still needed. But the entire political system is now so swamped with cash - and lawmakers so overwhelmed by the need to raise it - that something more is clearly needed. Congress, the institution I know best, is in danger of drowning. It needs help. Americans dislike the idea of using taxpayer dollars to fund politicians' campaigns, but what Congress needs is pretty straightforward: It needs public financing of congressional campaigns.

The simple cost of running for office is ludicrous. I first ran for Congress 45 years ago, and spent $30,000 on that race. That was before the costs of television advertising, pollsters, consultants, web strategists, get-out-the-vote efforts and all the other mechanics of a modern campaign took off - it was even before most of them were considered essential. These days, the winners of House seats spend an average of $1.3 million on their campaigns (and that includes both competitive and noncompetitive races); on the Senate side, it's closer to $8 million.

Except for certain well-situated politicians, most of the people running for Congress are not raising this money at home. Instead, they're turning to wealthy donors in a few major metropolitan areas - New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and, of course, Washington, D.C. In the last election cycle, in fact, contributions from those five cities, many of them aligned with one or another special interest jockeying for position on Capitol Hill, outweighed those from 36 states combined.

Although the rise of the Web as a fundraising tool has to some extent democratized political giving, that trend is still puny compared to the concentration of financial power in relatively few hands. In 2008, a few industry sectors - finance and real estate, lawyers and lobbyists, healthcare, communications, and energy and transportation - combined to provide $1.2 billion to federal candidates. Of all the funds raised by federal candidates, including candidates for president, less than 1 percent of Americans provided 80 percent of the money.

The effect of all this is apparent. Far too many Americ .....
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Journal Writing Project

Fri, Oct 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



I can still remember my first day of high school, walking into the gym with all the upperclassmen. The thing that sticks out the most in my mind that day in the gym was our principal, Mr. Olstad, saying that "high school flies by." I was thi ..... 
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Local businesses: use them or lose them

Thu, Oct 29th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

The benefit to our economy by using local businesses is significant. Minnesota Department of Revenue gross retail sales data showed that for every $100 spent at a chain store, only $12 is circulated back into the local economy. Whereas that same $10 ..... 
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One moment, please... Fillmore County's fertility drug

Fri, Oct 16th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

Since I began my crusade in late August in search of new business developments evolving in the past 12 months in Fillmore County, I have made seve ..... 
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Grown-up in the room

Fri, Oct 16th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Lewiston-Altura Schools are in a legal battle regarding bullying. They are not unique. Bullying is an issue in every school hallway and lunchroom and, for that matter, every workplace. I want to apologize, however, for how prevalent this has become. ..... 
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Find the center ground

Fri, Oct 2nd, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Every ten years as provided for in the US Constitution the Census Bureau gathers data which will be used to determine how many of the 435 US representatives each state will have. Next year the 2010 census data will be gathered and provided to the st ..... 
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One Moment, Please... Volunteer emergency response

Fri, Oct 2nd, 2009
Posted in Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

If you listen to a scanner on a regular basis, you probably heard a variety of ambulance and fire department dispatches this past week in the area ..... 
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Members of congress need to travel

Fri, Sep 25th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Spooked by the public outcry, the House of Representatives has cancelled its order for four new military jet aircraft that would have been used occasionally to ferry members of Congress around the world. Even so, you shouldn't expect for a minute th ..... 
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One Moment, Please... Pride in heritage

Fri, Sep 25th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

Pictured above is the Preston High School Class of 1949, celebrating their 60th year reunion. I actually had a chance to join them at the Branding ..... 
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