Let’s see how it works exactly to bribe a senator. We don’t take Sinnema as an example because that would be redundant. Instead let’s talk about Senator Gladys. She has been approached by a company that will give her a million dollars in “appreciation” and for her “re-election” and all she has to do is to block a proposed law that would damage the profits of the company. They weren’t that bald, but approached her through her staff, some of which was inherited from the previous senator. The dollar amount was disguised so that it seemed legitimate alongside all the other huge amounts of money in federal budgets. She was assured that this was normal, the way everyone did it.

So did the actual money (which must have been in bookkeeping credits rather than a carpetbag of dollars) show up as a deposit in Gladys’ bank account? What is it called as a line item? Surely not “bribe.”

Now that she has an extra million dollars in her account, her management team insists she must invest it or it might be lost somehow or at least questioned by enemies. It can’t just sit there and earn interest. They have a list of companies who have “shares” that could be bought. “What Are Shares? Shares are units of equity ownership in a corporation. For some companies, shares exist as a financial asset providing for an equal distribution of any residual profits, if any are declared, in the form of dividends.” The value of the shares go up and down according to the fortunes of the business and the luck of the times. Every night the news reports on this interesting gambling game. Movement can be extreme.

It’s all a little fuzzy, but the idea is that you give me money and I assign to you a certain percentage of the ownership of the company. This means if things go well, you might get that percentage of any profit, sort of like a tribe operates — since it is meant to be a corporation with each enrolled person “owning” a share — giving each person a “per capita.” A piece of the profit. That’s what blood quantum is really about.

So Gladys has become a part owner (an investor) of a business and had put in so much money that she has been asked to join the board that presumably runs the business, though in fact the CEO and his confidants are not the same as the board. To keep Gladys happy, she is given little advantages and in return she lets the managers know what’s quietly being considered by Congress. This is not quite legal, but it works.

So now Gladys’ generous donation has drawn her into a complex of powerful people. If she began to fight them, she would begin to have troubles. This will not look good to the public and certain media people know it. In fact, there may be legal jeopardy.

Companies — apart from their buildings, supplies, employees — are imagined, made-up systems that can and probably should change all the time to suit conditions. I was fascinated by the tv series called “Halt and Catch Fire”, which is a formal command to the computer to stop and close — maybe crash. The story was about the growth of the business and the people as they confronted situations. How do we make the current senate situation of bought-out representatives of companies instead of people “halt and catch fire.” Where’s the key?

How do we get Gladys to see that she is in a trap and likely to “halt and catch fire” herself, now that her situation is clear. We can track that dark money, see what company she invested in, watch to see how she acts on that board, and get to know her team over confiding drinks. When she goes home, people will have questions. In fact, her family may have questions.

A democratic system based on representatives was never meant to be controlled by the corruption of those representatives, poisoned by the power to ignore those who elected them. But that’s what’s happened.

Luckily there are records of the laws that allowed this. It will just be difficult to get rid of them with all the Repubs squatting on top of the ballot box, blocking the slot where the ballots go in.

So the rest of the story about Gladys is that one day the nice old man who was on the Board of Directors came to her and asked her to spike a bill he didn’t like. Sadly, it was one Gladys and a friend from home had developed and she was fond of it. But the nice old man gently reminded her that she was already identified as a go-to lady if someone wanted a bill killed. He would make something of it if she didn’t comply. Why didn’t she like him? Gladys’ friend felt so betrayed she never spoke to Gladys again.

The Senate turned out to be a very tedious job — a lot to learn about stuff she never cared about. Her staff did a lot but they tended to quarrel among themselves and Gladys didn’t have much management experience. One day she lost her temper and had a screeching fit. Three of them quit on the spot.

A small group of Repub senators came to take Gladys off to the side for a little counseling. One of them was young and slipped her a packet of calm-down pills. He didn’t have them because he was young — but rather because he himself had to stay calm. He was about to face criminal charges for a deal he had made that violated some old restriction. He hated all these guard rails that interfered with what he wanted to do.

About that time the company with Gladys’ bribe money folded up and the CEO left with all the profits, leaving the Board to sort the remains.

One day Gladys was so calm that she drove right into on-coming traffic and was in a smashup. It didn’t kill her but she had to resign and go home. One of her former teachers, quite a bit older, a social studies teacher, ran for her office, won it, got things straightened out and saved Gladys’ people. In fact, she even got that bill passed that the friend had wanted. (This is Thanksgiving so we want a happy ending.)

Born in Portland when all was calm just before WWII. Educated formally at NU and U of Chicago Div School. Clergy for ten years. Always happy on high prairie.

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Mary Strachan Scriver

Born in Portland when all was calm just before WWII. Educated formally at NU and U of Chicago Div School. Clergy for ten years. Always happy on high prairie.