Money Talks


To the Editors of The Crimson:

Money talks, Money votes, too. And rarely has the corrupting influence of economic power in the democratic process been as blatant as in last Tuesday's election. There, as a recent New York Times article (November 12, 1983) demonstrates. America's large weapons corporations used their dollars to "vote" against the Nuclear Free Cambridge resolution. 'And they won the election.

Four months ago, according to The Times, a poll found that voters approved of the Nuclear Free resolution by two to' one. But an enormous assault by well-financed military contractors was able to reshape that popular sentiment in time for the election. It would take a few hundred thousand dollars, but the corporations could be sure that they were spending their money on nothing more generous than their own economic self-interest.

The first stage in this "dollar democracy" was for Draper Labs--a Cambridge company which designs missile guidance systems--to hire two expensive public relations specialists. One of these then organized the campaign against the referendum, and the money began to flow in. The Times article reports that contribution totalled $150,000 from such major out-of-state military contractors as Hughes Aircraft, Sperry Corporation and General Electric. Money also came from Draper Labs, which is unwilling to disclose the extent of its financing. But the total of corporate funds employed by Draper's pro-nuclear campaign may well have been more than 20 times the total budget of the grass-roots citizens' effort against nuclear weapons work.

The Draper campaign's great wealth was used for direct mail, a telephone bank, literature distribution and massive television advertising. The Times reports. An advertising effort so incredibly well-funded was bound to work, and it did. But does "one dollar, one vote" truly represent democracy? Bruce Brandt '86   Show-Man Chen '86   Brian Palmer '86   Steven Smart '86   James Thomas '86