If you are upset that the new financial reform bill is too weak, does not fundamentally change a broken system and will not prevent another meltdown, perhaps you should take a look at this: Wall Street is unhappy that Democrats have been slightly mean to them, so it has closed its huge campaign-donation spigot. From “The Washington Post”:

Almost half of that decline in large-dollar fundraising can be attributed to New York, according to a Washington Post analysis of records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Donors from that area have given $8.7 million this year, compared with $23.9 million at this point in the 2008 cycle, with most of those contributions coming from big contributors in the financial sector. New York donors had given congressional Democrats almost twice as much money at this stage of the 2006 midterm campaigns, when Republicans ruled both chambers and held the White House.

Without that money a few Congressional Democrats might lose their jobs. Politicians are never going to get truly tough on Wall Street (or PhRMA, Big Oil, etc.) as long as they are so dependent on Wall Street giving them the money they need to win re-election.

Our campaign donation system is like having FDA meat inspectors whose only pay comes in gifts from the meatpacking companies they inspect. If they are too good at their job, they’ll go broke, losing their gifts from the companies they are meant to police. It is like having the guards of the hen house relying on the foxes to pay their salaries.

Members of Congress are never going to take on misbehaving and extremely wealthy industries as long as their jobs depend on a continuous supply of gifts from those same industries. Our political system’s heavy reliance on corporate donations has completely overtaken the running of our government.

Until we have a system that doesn’t force legislators to beg for money from the companies they are meant to rein in, real reform will be next to impossible. This is just another example of why we need voluntary public financing of elections. Every penny spent on public financing will probably result in a dollar’s worth of better policy for the public. The fact that lobbying and campaign donations can yield a 10,000 percent return on investment is why corporations invest so heavily in politics.

Would you prefer that, when politicians are writing new laws, they’re thinking about how they can rely on the public to finance their re-election campaign, or how they still need to ask BP and Goldman Sachs for more donations?