Friday, January 28, 2005

Rich Guys Redux

Wall St. Journal columnist David Wessel, who wrote the “rich guys” piece about Robert Klein, revisited the subject on the Journal's website. This time he ran comments from a number of readers.

Here are the remarks of two:
Susan Daniels: “Pray tell me this: How does what Messrs. Klein and Reiner did differ from Texas oilmen buying (legally, of course, through campaign contributions) the right to set US energy policy, differ from timber interests buying (legally, of course, through campaign contributions) the right to set forestry policy? I could go on and on. I guess the only difference is that what Messrs. Klein and Reiner did wasn't under the table and might actually benefit more than the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population. If you hadn't focused only on liberal rich guys with causes and while ignoring rich conservative rich guys with causes, it might have had more credibility. Washington is a cesspool and both parties are to blame -- but that doesn't mean you should write a column that would make any rational person assume you are an idiot.”

Wessel's response: “I think The Wall Street Journal has done a pretty darn good job of covering the influence of money in politics -- of all kinds of political coloration."

Joel West: “You (Wessel) were way too easy on the threat that rich activists pose to our democracy. Ballot box initiatives and California mass media politics have had their risks all along. But Messrs. Reiner and Klein have perfected a system that transfers control of taxpayer money away from elected officials to unelected, self-perpetuating bureaucracies.“In particular, Mr. Reiner has been using state tax revenues to run an unprecedented propaganda campaign to create a permanent consensus that state-supported preschool is an inalienable right. State law (plus an activist press) governs how public officials can use public money to lobby the public -- but Mr. Reiner (and now Mr. Klein) are exempt.“Part of the blame lies, however, with the big city media that endorsed the anti-Bush stem cell initiative despite its fatal flaws (documented in a commentary by Francis Fukuyama in the Wall Street Journal on October 25). And our governor showed his "girly man" side by running to the front of Mr. Klein's parade rather than pushing for essential accountability reforms.”

Wessel did not respond to West's comment.

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