Lobbyism & Payoff

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Lobbyism:
The New Corruption
 
If bribery is the corruption of the poor then lobbyism is the corruption of the rich. Although the aim is the same, the results of lobbyism are far more widespread.
Imagine a society where a case of bribery within a political party or big business is purposely brought to light. It may be thousand of dollars involved, possibly millions. The government is quick to scrutinize this case and equally quick to denounce it vociferously to its public. But let’s take a closer look: Realistically, the amount of money involved is small potatoes when looking at the larger picture. Is it possible that the public’s attention is being diverted to trivial cases such as these so as to draw attention away from larger, much more dangerous cases? Cases where money is no longer at the heart of the issue… Laws are at the stake. Though bribery may penalize taxpayers, lobbyism can bury democracy.
 
 
In Search Of A Better Deal
 

 

 

by Andrew L.,

Unknown News

Jan. 15, 2004

It took the United States a hundred and forty-five years after the inception of its government in 1787 to realize that something was drastically wrong with the system, that the status quo was unsustainable. A series of unchecked liberties taken by the ruling class convinced us — and FDR, as it so happened — that serious change was essential to revive the land of the free and the home of the brave.
 
Laissez faire capitalism, long working hours, fringe or hardly no benefits of all coupled with numerous banks gambling with consumers’ capital as if it were Monopoly money rang in what is now known as ‘The New Deal’, FDR’s legacy that brought us Social Security, the right to unionize, the eight hour workday, and many other institutions that since have been substantially eroded, one federal dollar at a time.

It has now taken half that time to realize that, again, this country needs a new and better deal, the likes of which must hark back to the days of the American Revolution to have any validity at all. At stake this time are the foundations this country was built on, in particular democracy itself. In the greater sense of reform, freedom from corporate rule and the industrial complex must be the absolute prerogatives if we are to survive as a democracy.

At present, this country suffers from a serious disease which will prove to be terminal if not treated accordingly. Sad, very sad, considering that we used to be the blueprint for any functioning civilization throughout the world. Let’s examine just a few symptoms and offer a possible cure.

1. Government

The honesty and integrity of the members of our government, whether on a federal, state, or local level, have been hopelessly compromised and have long ago ditched their constituencies — the people of the United States of America — they were designed to serve in favor of greener (as in dollar) pastures.

Sadly, the omnipresent ‘quid pro quo’ has replaced the ‘liberty and justice for all’ as the panacea that greases our corporate machine. The State of Enron matters more than the State of California. The concerns and requests of Shell Oil have rendered the needs of an increasingly impoverished nation mute and irrelevant. The recent confession of Congressman Nick Smith (R-Michigan) following the vote on the Medicare Bill is just a small leaf hidden in the gargantuan forest of corruption people almost have to take for granted.

In the newer deal, more parties must be introduced for better balance and granted access to our federal government. Lobbyism must be severely restricted or, as utopic as this sounds, abolished altogether. A campaign finance reform must live up to its name for the government to regain the credibility of its citizens, not merely a loop hole for soft money donors. Money and Democracy, irrevocably, is a marriage that must be divorced.

Of course, there is also the executive branch. I could start with the perils of installing a president elected by a minority, although we have seen on numerous occasions how even a legitimate president can abuse the office (see Mssrs. Johnson, Reagan, Nixon, and virtually every other president of the past century for more details). People like the cabinet must not be appointed by one man. Criminals like Rumsfeld or Poindexter must not be granted access to the highest branch of government without the electorate’s approval. Last but not least, we need big government, not to protect its people from phantom menaces and to post terror alerts according to the season’s temperature, but to protect them from the members of the establishment convinced that it is their God given right to exploit America at will.

2. National Security

Peaceful tomorrow. These words, abused for decades now to prevent the accountability of those who employ them, are downright criminal. Instead of pushing the Pax Americana that can only produce disastrous repercussions in the long run, we must come up with a 'pax mundi' in cooperation with the UN, that same institution we have crippled to the status of virtual irrelevance.

All negotiations, be it for Energy Policy or Foreign Policy, must be monitored by independent watchdog groups by, for, and of the people, whose hard labor and taxes even make government possible. The military as an establishment must be reduced to part of a multilateral force and budgets for peace keeping agencies like the Peace Corps must see tremendous raises in budget and manpower so we can begin working for a peaceful tomorrow, not against it.

3. Workers’ rights

It is true that the labor unions received a much needed break when the eight hour workday was introduced along with the right to organize during the New Deal, but it has been all downhill since. Union participation is at an all-time low, as workers throughout the country have been hesitant or downright fearful to join.

We need to establish a climate that is friendly for union organizers, as it is their constitutional right to bargain. Also, living wage bills need to be introduced like the one passed last year in Santa Monica. Wages have not matched inflation for decades now, and the CEO making two hundred times as much as the average worker demonstrate the need for a cap, more accountability on the boards throughout the nations, and a narrowing income gap to revive the middle class, quickly a dwindling institution in the US.

4. Environment

When did corporations fail to grasp the word ‘protected’? Public lands and national parks were set aside exactly for that reason, a grim fact this administration, led by the EPA and the department of the Interior, routinely seem to omit. There is no issue more quintessential than our environment, the key to life on earth itself.

Corporations that fail to grasp that, and willfully refuse to help protect it, should not just be fined, but put out of business or in jail. This and past administrations’ negligent manner in protecting our environment has been nothing short of criminal.

According to the most recent statistics, almost every city in California exceeds the federal limit allowed for toxins. Translate this to a national level, and it’s easy to see where our priorities lie: with industry, not breathable air. International treaties dealing with global warmth like Kyoto must be ratified and authored without corporate cronies looking over our shoulders.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. I could easily cite the separation of church and state (what little good that would do against the Christian right), gun control, and an amendment negating the would-be PATRIOT Acts once and for all. There is the SEC that has the teeth of one of Jim Henson's muppets, consumer protectionism, the need for universal health care, or tax laws, all of which need considerable improvement for us to regain the status of egalitarian country.

We all know about the wish lists of corporate donors. We know they sit in Washington themselves, in every branch of government. We need a wish list to counter their misguided principles — perhaps this one in favor of the United States of America and its people.


2003, by the author.

Source:
Unknown News

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