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It’s Contagious

If you think electoral politics have gotten out of hand, I have bad news for you: It's contagious.

I'm being inundated with mailers and emails in a hotly contested election - for the Board of Directors of Thoroughbred Owners of California.

WTF? continued

This thing has gotten so out of hand that a state agency - the California Horse Racing Board - has appointed a former dean of the law school at U.C. Berkeley to oversee the counting of the votes. I'm expecting Jimmy Carter to show up next.

I won't go into the issues - mainly because I have no idea what they are. It seems to be two groups of people yelling at each other about how self-interested and untrustworthy the other group is.

And just about every candidate in her or her statement that comes with the official ballot claims to want everyone to get along. It's surreal.

At least with Republicans and Democrats, you can ignore the name-calling and extramarital affairs because you have some vague notion about how they stand on issues.

But what do you do with an election when you don't know who the liberals and conservatives are, and barely know what the office they're running for means?

I blame this on Citizens United. Now that there's unlimited money in national elections, everyone wants to get into the act on some level because it looks like so much fun.

But most of us can't afford a national election anymore, so people who enjoy the thrill of running for office have to settle for trade groups and judgeships. It's trickling down through the electoral culture. How else do you explain this headline: "Stars Fight Merger of Actors Unions?"

They're stars! Why do they need to fight?

Clearly, this is an epidemic.

That's not the only impact of Citizens United. The case has created some deep philosophical issues. For example, how can you tell when someone is kidding?

I refer you to, where you can watch a video of a straight-faced guy insisting that since corporations are people, they can have children.

Saturday Night Live could run this unedited.

I think the guy is kidding, but I'm not really sure. He seems awfully intent on getting his money back from the bankrupt MF Global brokerage.

He also put out a press release claiming that he's filed a motion that says that "because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are to be treated as 'persons', then the 'parent' company, MF Global Holdings, by definition, must have a 'child' company, the subsidiary brokerage, MF Global, Inc. ... (and) a child's support claims shall have super-priority status over all other unsecured creditors."

Reasonable. Kind of.

But also very disturbing. This means corporations can have sex. Do we really want to think about this?

And what happens when there's a divorce? Is a subsidiary forced into shared custody going to thrive?

It's tragic.

BUSINESS TIP: When manufacturing and selling a product, one should always consider its intended users.

My favorite L. A. lawsuit of last week was filed against a company called ITC Systems (USA), Inc. over what happened to the 200 vending machines it provided for inmates at county jails. The machines accept "mag stripe" cards.

Do you want to guess what happened?

Yep. Said the suit: "Plaintiff discovered that inmates were manipulating the readers and emptying the vending machines of merchandise without paying."

To the tune of $400,000-plus.

There's an assumption of risk argument there somewhere for somebody.

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