Green Party criticizes corporate influence

Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 22, 2002

Members of the Green Party say to understand Michigan government, you've got to follow the money.

Fueling Republican and Democratic politics, state party chair Marc Reichardt said, is cash from corporations that pollutes the political process.

One of the party's main goals, as it looks to the Nov. 5 election, is to replace big business with individuals as the foundation of Michigan elections.

The Green Party is fielding 35 Michigan candidates from its state headquarters in Ann Arbor, in an attempt to defeat what many members consider to be rule by a Democratic-Republican coalition.

"We have one party in this country - it just has two different names," U.S. Senate candidate Eric Borregard said.

Borregard said no substantial differences exist between his major-party opponents, incumbent Democrat Carl Levin and Republican Andrew Raczkowski.

Both are all too willing to condone military aggression against Iraq when the United States should instead be lifting economic sanctions and no-fly zone regulations, he said.

"I'm running against two Republicans," he said. "I'm the only liberal in the race."

Levin voted no on a successful resolution earlier this month that authorized President Bush to use military force against Iraq. He supported another resolution that would have made the authorization conditional on U.N. support.Oil companies are dictating defense policy in the Middle East, and the United States must encourage the use of alternate energy such as biofuel and wind power to break that stranglehold, Borregard said. The government should also compete with energy companies by producing electrical power itself, he added.

To even the playing field that disparities in money have created, Greens want public funds to finance political campaigns, Reichardt said. Campaign finance reform should be paralleled by election reform that strengthens third parties and eliminates the stigma of "spoiler" often attached to them, he said.

The Green solution is instant runoff voting, which gives voters the option to rank candidates instead of picking one. It would allow "people to vote for who they really want rather than who they dislike least," Reichard said.

Priorities are skewed in Lansing, Reichard said. Despite budget shortfalls that are straining the state economy, he said funding must increase for many areas including environmental protection, welfare, public schools and higher education.

He said protection of an aquifer in Big Rapids is one of the Greens' top priorities. Perrier's attempts to drain water for bottling under its Ice Mountain brand will damage the watershed, he said.

Public universities like the University of Michigan are becoming too focused on research and development and must return to their original educational mission, Reichard said.

He said the state should also prohibit tuition from rising faster than inflation.

Rackham student Ryan Jonna, a member of both the Student Greens at the University and the Huron Valley Greens, said the party is dedicated to student involvement in higher education. Its candidates for the University Board of Regents, Susan Fawcett and Matt Petering, are University students.

Corporate influence determines much of what the University researches, Jonna said.

He said the breakup of the Biology Department into two disciplines, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, has led to an increasing focus on corporation-approved projects by MCDB.

The new department does not pay enough attention to ecological goals in its research, and spends its time working to obtain patents, he said.