Return to Nicholas Johnson Main Web Page

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Another Iowan for Kucinich Web site

A Great Return on Investment
Nicholas Johnson

Iowa City Press-Citizen, "Opinion"
December 12, 2003, p. 13A

Bravo to Rob Bignell for “Your Congressman’s Price Tag” (Dec. 10)!

That “Iowa Child” supporters made contributions to Iowa’s senators and Congressman Jim Leach before receiving $50 million in taxpayers’ money probably evoked little surprise. Over half the eligible voters are so apathetic, alienated and angry about money’s influence they refuse to vote.

What’s worth closer focus is the formula Bignell’s research reveals. The return on their “investment” of $15,000 (to perhaps twice that) was at least 2000-to-one!

Try making that kind of money in the stock market.

More shocking is that this is the standard pay back for contributions. Iowa Child is no aberration.

Give $1000, get back a million. Give a million, get back a billion.

The payback may come in the form of a tax break, whether on federal income or in local property taxes. It may be a defense contract, approval of an anticompetitive merger, price supports, subsidies, oil from public lands, a TV license, tariffs or other protection from competition.

It’s just one form of “public financing of campaigns.” The public pays from 1000 to 2000 times the $1 transferred to candidates. We pay in increased prices for food, insurance, gasoline, bank interest rates, pharmaceuticals, and our telephone and cable television bills.

Want more? There’s online support for an op ed I wrote some years ago. At, click on “Enter Here,” then “Politics,” and then “Campaigns: You Pay $4 or $4000.”

Remember this formula when you compare the platforms of the leading Democratic presidential candidates. Only Dennis Kucinich advocates health care and other people programs free of the taint of the “political realism” that Congress must be bought.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Press-Citizen for helping us follow Washington’s most popular shell-and-pea game.

Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City