Friday, January 14, 2005

More fun with numbers

Babble on.

Building on the spadework done by Vitor and Mike, Stephen Taylor has two posts up that bring additional perspective to the political donation landscape in Canada.

Note to Stephen: the one additional element I would have liked to see in graphic form would have been the total donations numbers (including the BQ). Of course, if I was less of a complete technological moron, I'd be able to do it myself. Anyone who wants to tutor me on posting graphics to this blog will be hailed publicly as oracle and mentor.

Anyhow, back to the numbers:

Liberal: $21,811,746.65
CA/PC (Conservative): $7,725,072.51
NDP: $7,761,588.18

That's total donations in 2003. What shocks me are the proportions. I mean, I knew the Lib's would have raised piles more than the CPC or NDP, but I had no idea it was [a third - correction] over 40% more than their totals combined.

The other shocking stat - for me at least - was the percentage of NDP funding that comes from unions: 62%. All ten of their top donors in 2003 were unions, and the average donation from those ten was almost half a million dollars ($461,789.42). By way of contrast, the average donation from the top ten CA/PC donors was less than a tenth of that ($43,993.48). If you take out PM Dither's regicide-fund surplus of almost $3M, the Fiberals top donors average just over a hundred grand ($120,039.13).

Oh, and by the way, 50% of the Liberals' funding came from the business sector in 2003 - a whopping $10.9 million. That is to say, the Liberals received 42% more from Canadian businesses alone than the Conservatives did from all sources combined.

All the parties talk about 'grassroots support', but only the Conservatives seem to be driven by it - on a fundraising level at least (63% from individuals). Oh, some Dippers will argue that union funding is 'grassroots' - but only a hard-core socialist could call forced giving through mandatory dues 'grassroots' support. The Canadian Labour Congress says three million Canadians are represented by unions, but the NDP attracted only 2.1 million votes in the 2004 election. Assuming only union members voted NDP - a ridiculous assumption, but an illustrative one - a fully 30% of Canadians who are forced to support the NDP through their union dues didn't support Layton & Co. through their vote. The NDP likes to say it's the voice of the 'little guy', but it looks to me like it's the voice of what is increasingly just another type of Canadian big business - the unions.

The political left is fond of saying 'follow the money', but when we do, we find the Liberals are in bed with business and the NDP are in bed with the unions.

In fact, if you follow the money, the only party that speaks for Joe and Jane Canuck is the Conservative Party of Canada.

Ahhh, I hear the sweet music of goateed urbanites choking on their lattes. My work here is done.

Babble off.


At 9:31 a.m., Blogger Greg said...

I will give you an even more hard core socialist spin. I don't think parties should take private donations of any kind. The NDP should not receive union funding and the CPC and Liberals should not have millionaire support. NO one should get a door opened to them, based on money. Rather, parties should receive funding from parliament based on the vote percentage garnered in the last election, similar to the way we are now funding elections.

At 9:39 a.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Still coercion, Greg. What if I was a week-kneed Dipper who voted Liberal *spit* last election because I swallowed the scare-mongering that a vote for my own party would result in a Conservative victory? Should my money really go the the Lib's - potentially for the next four or five years?

At 9:47 a.m., Blogger Greg said...

Ah, but you forget B. I am also for electoral reform. The scenario you created is quite real under present system, where we elect four year dictatorships created by a minority of voter support. But, if you create a system where every vote counts (MMP is my party's solution), it will minimize vote splitting and create a parliament that more accurately reflects the public will.

At 10:25 a.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

While that's a more reasonable proposition, it still makes my skin crawl for two reasons: someone else spending my money when I'm perfectly able to do it, and someone else telling me I can't spend my own money the way I see fit. Yes, yes, caveats apply, but generally speaking, that's how I feel.

At 10:36 a.m., Blogger Greg said...

I know it is not easy to accept, but money is drawn to power. In return, money gets access. If that equation is not changed, nothing will change and democracy will be for sale to the highest bidder.

At 3:52 p.m., Blogger deaner said...

So Greg, will you make it illegal to donate time and effort to a campaign as well? After all, it is only "the rich" who can afford the time away from productive employment to lick envelopes, knock on doors, and man phone banks. I suppose we could make the opposite argument - that it is only those in cushy, union-protected jobs who can afford to do the same; in either case, it's a hand-waving argument, just as is your assertion that all political donations from individuals (or a significantly high proportion of them) are made in expectation of greater power or access to power, and that the expectation is actually reciprocated. It seems that private use of private resources is anathema to those who see resources being used in ways they don't personally approve of. Pity, isn't it?

I have seen wealth and power and the attraction for politicians - and the lure is not usually a donation (although that sometimes opens the door, but with the current donation limits it's chump change - and I don't see that as a bad thing): the lure is cooperation on a pet project; an announcement of a "significant" (read, telegenic) event like a plant opening or new technology; or a policy position that supports that of the politician involved. These lures will still exist even if all private donatations are prohibited - and you have removed one more connection between politicians and the acceptability of their policy positions except once every four to five years. I see that as a poor outcome.


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