What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Outside Money and the Elections

October 28, 2010, 7:22 PM
Vegasbitch1982

The Democrats are bracing for big losses in next week’s election. While the Democrats may, as Nate Silver argues, still have some modest chance of retaining both houses of Congress, Republicans have already started to prepare an agenda for next year. But in the end this election may be remembered for something else: the unprecedented amount of outside money spent on political advertising.

Dan Eggen reports that according the Center for Responsive Politics all told campaigns, political parties, and outside interest groups may spend a record $4 billion on this year’s election. Outside interest groups have raised at least $400 million of that money. Outside spending may even eclipse spending by the political parties themselves. Thanks to new campaign finance rules, most of that money was donated anonymously. But it appears to be coming largely from very wealthy donors and large corporations. And it’s largely going to support conservative candidates and conservative causes. According to Media Matters, that money bought almost 100,000 conservative television ads since August 1—and 18,000 in the last week alone.

Amanda Terkel reports that some of this money is being funneled through one-person political action committees set up to circumvent the rules governing political contributions. Concerned Citizens for a Working America and Taxpayers Against Earmarks, for example, appear to consist of just a single wealthy concerned citizen and a single wealthy taxpayer respectively. T.W. Farnam points out that another portion of this money comes from companies that received bailout money, including some that still owe money to the government. In other words, major beneficiaries of the bailout—who were happy to take government money but oppose future government regulations—have decided to use their bailout money to donate to the party that opposed the bailout instead of paying the government back.

Polls show that the idea of all this anonymous political spending is unpopular. But it’s not clear that will do the Democrats much good in the upcoming election. If the Democrats do lose big in the election, the economy—and not all this outside cash—will be the main reason. You can't simply buy an election. But money does allow interest groups to spread misleading or downright false claims their opponents don’t have the resources to refute. And it can make a big difference. Big donors certainly think they’re getting something the money they’re spending. And they’re certainly going to expect something in return for their generosity.

 

Outside Money and the Elect...

Newsletter: Share: