There are many songs about the power of money. I've embedded a few of them at the bottom of this post, for your listening enjoyment. There's "Money (makes the world go round)" from Cabaret. Another one is "Money Honey" first recorded by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters in 1953. Another good one is "Money (That's What I Want)", performed by Barrett Strong in 1960 and covered by the Beatles, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones.
Money is a necessity for a decent quality of life in most places on earth. I certainly don't want to do without it. But money distorts politics, and while the wealthy have always had influence in politics far beyond their numbers in the population, the increased cost of political campaigns has turned our national political life into a cash and carry business. With the incoming Congress and Senate we've also reached a milestone. According to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics, more than half the members of the House and Senate are millionaires. Think about it. While intuitively most people would guess that legislators are wealthy, does it really make sense in a rational world? This is supposed to be government of, by, and for the people. Are over half the people you know millionaires? Is a Congress full of millionaires able to understand the concerns and problems of most of the nation?
This is something that you should really think about, whether you are on the left, right, or center of the political spectrum. Do you really want a government in which legislating is a hobby for the rich, and in which legislation is bartered, bought, and sold by the lobbyists for wealthy individuals and organizations? Maybe you do. But even if you think money should be the determinant in elections and legislation, it will benefit you to know the specifics of how the money flows.
One of the best sources of information is the Center for Responsive Politics. Every political activist, of any political or philosophical persuasion should have the CPR's website, Opensecrets.org, bookmarked. The site is one of the best means of "following the money". I just did a search, for instance, on the fundraising thus far for Georgia's U.S. House and Senate races. It's fascinating how much it costs to mount a campaign for the House or Senate. Another great resource is their page on "outside spending", or spending on campaigns by special interest groups.
The best shot we have at a responsive and open government is an active and educated public. Education includes knowing where the money comes from, where it goes, and how it influences policy. Opensecrets.org is a good starting point.
Now enjoy these three great songs!