Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Money or Influence?

It came up at lunch with a friend today - which has more power, money or influence? I'm not sure that we (or anyone) could answer the question, but it's intriguing to me. Money can sure buy a whale of a lot of influence. Influence can lead to money, but often the two are not that closely related.
It's not like one of those things like the old saw "the woodman says give me heat; the fireplace says give me wood". It may be more like the "nature-nurture" proposition. Having a lot of money can mean having a lot of influence, but having a lot of influence certainly doesn't mean you have a lot of money. And often, one does not necessarily lead to the other.
My lunch partner and I are both former broadcasters and news anchors, and have seen more than our fair share of how money can influence outcomes and attitudes. And we've seen plenty of cases where people with a lot more influence than money, have drastically affected outcomes and attitudes. You could say that a sitting justice of a state Supreme Court has a great deal of influence, but if you follow Wisconsin politics, you know that in the past two campaigns, it's been money by the boxcar-load that's determined the outcome of the election. I guess that's pretty much true for the past three or four Presidential elections, too.
Both money and influence are very powerful. We didn't come to any conclusions over lunch. I suspect the discussion will continue for some time, without conclusion.

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