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The United States of America: The Best Nation that Money Can Buy
Let’s Begin with a Definition
Lobbying: the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies.
Lest you think this is a new phenomenon, lobbyists have existed in the United States since we became a nation. James Madison argued in favor of lobbyists in 1776, using Freedom of Speech as his main point, and the arguments for, and support for, lobbying has only increased since then.
In fact, it was estimated, in 2011, that over thirty billion dollars was spent attempting to influence votes and legislation nationally, while in Washington D.C. four billion dollars was spent.
This is big business my friends.
Money Can’t Buy You Love
But it sure can buy you some damned good legislation.
Thirty billion dollars worth of legislation.
“But Bill, aren’t you being a bit cynical?”
To which I would reply, “Aren’t you being a bit naïve?”
So, who are these lobbyists? Who is spending all this money to buy legislation in this country?
The top spenders, by industry, for 2014 are:
- Pharmaceuticals $119,470,003
- Insurance $ 78,046,878
- Business Assoc $ 73,703,878
- Internet $ 71,804,106
- Oil and Gas $ 67,265,741
- Electric Utilities $ 65,871,155
- TV/Movies/Music $ 57,022,334
- Securities/Invest $ 49,900,734
- Manuf/Distributing $ 47,542,373
- Health Profession $ 45,341,903
That’s in less than one year my friends, and it is just a small portion of the lobbyists roaming the Halls of Congress in search of favorable legislation.
Mid-term Elections Are Coming
Yes, it is always an election year, but in 2014, in one month, we will vote on House and Senate elections, and then we will trudge forward two more years and then vote for President, and people will rush to the polls and cast their ballot, then go home feeling like democracy has once again worked its magic, all the while the lobbyists are sipping cocktails and telling their stockholders to rest assured, the votes really don’t make a bit of difference.
Welcome to the United States of America, the best country money can buy.
And We Fall for It Year After Year After Year
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
So the elections are held, and one side wins, one side loses, and we all go home and complain about the voting results, and we curse the other side, those damned Republicans, those spineless Democrats, those bleeding heart Liberals, and those crazier-than-bat-shit Tea Partiers, and in so doing we do exactly what the lobbyists want us to do: we blame each other.
Go to any online forum and tell me I’m wrong. The bloodletting never stops as issues of abortion, gay rights, gun control, et al are argued and argued in increasingly louder voices. The art of compromise? Tossed to the winds. The art of listening and seeking common ground? Run over like some day-old road kill.
And not once do we stop and realize that all the arguing in the world won’t change the fact that legislation is purchased.
Take some middle-aged, struggling Americans, and stack the cards against them so they can’t possibly pull an ace out of the hole, and they will listen to anyone who points a finger and tells them it’s the other guy’s fault, because dammit, we need to blame someone.
Take a million displaced American workers, and tell them the Republicans are out to screw them, and you’ll have some converts on the spot.
Take some mid-level management types who have overspent and now face credit ruin, and tell them the Liberals hate their guts, and they will be flying the right-wing flag high above their driveways.
None of them understand that the real fight is not Republican vs Democrat. The real fight is corporation vs the bottom 90%.
And the corporations are winning!
So Here Is My Solution
Of course this won’t be done, but it sure is fun to dream.
Outlaw lobbyists and lobbyist spending. Build a ten-foot wall around Congress and never again allow big-spenders to defecate in the nation’s capital. In fact, outside that wall, I want a moat teeming with alligators and all sorts of other deadly mammals.
If we could eliminate special interest group spending, then we would have a situation where politicians are only in office if we elect them into office, and they will only stay there if they actually represent we, the people, and not they, the corporations.
No, it will never happen, because in order for it to happen, Congress would have to enact legislation that eliminated special interest lobbying, and that would mean that Congressional members would suddenly earn less income, and who in their right mind is going to vote for legislation that makes them poorer?
A man of conscience, maybe?
Forget about it! Never going to happen! Not in Washington D.C., and not in any state capital, and certainly not in the United States, the best damned nation that money can buy.
Of Course, There Is Another Solution
This is going to seem radical, but try to stay with me for a moment.
Instead of waiting for legislators to grow a conscience, why not force them to grow one? Demand that your state lawmakers reform lobbying in this country. If they don’t, we vote them out of office, and then they can be a part of the great unwashed who do nothing other than live their lives in quiet desperation.
I know, I know, it is beyond radical. In order for that to work, the bottom 90% in this country would have to work together. Party lines would have to be erased, and people would have to begin voting as a coordinated group whose only agenda is to wrestle the power of this country away from corporations and back into the hands of the individuals who make up 90% of the voting power.
It will never happen, but it sure is fun to dream.
Don’t forget to vote in November. The lobbyists are counting on it. The results give them something to laugh about at their next martini lunch.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)