So, I’d like to make corporate lobbyists illegal

We should make it illegal for corporation to hire lobbyists to keep their positions secure, and block U.S. voter initiatives and retarded stuff like that.

I just watched Supersize Me. The part of it that was most interesting to me discussed public school and what they serve now in cafeterias. It’s pretty despicable. There is a growing movement to require more nutritious food in public school cafeterias, as well as attempts to ban soft drink companies from advertising or selling on campuses.  Such attempts are being blocked at every turn, by high-paid lobbyists working for the food industry, which is making nice profits the way things are, and sees no reason to change.

So, I thought to myself– where is the morality in being able to hire someone to lobby for you? Certainly it’s a complex problem– but I’m sure that there’s an effective way to block corporate lobbyists.

I hate corporatism, can you tell?

I’ve only just dipped into the political world in most ways, but I think this would be one of the best steps we could take as a nation.

Discuss.

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12 Comments

Filed under Capitalism, Corporatism, Current Events, Economics, Free Markets, Politics, Supreme Court

12 responses to “So, I’d like to make corporate lobbyists illegal

  1. Yeah, it’s pretty disgusting. We get a few lobbyists coming through for briefings for the Washington Seminar here in DC, and they can be very persuasive–too persuasive.

    Making lobbying outright illegal isn’t necessarily practical, though. These corporations would find some other way to influence politics, and it might shut out the activist groups that are actually doing some good. Besides, how would you implement it? What, specifically, would be illegal, and what would be permitted?

    The best solution, I think, is to scale back our federal government and empower government institutions on the local level. When constituents become little more than statistics, I think we’ve got a problem.

    • Myke

      Non-profit groups would be allowed to lobby, and hire lobbyists. The idea is to keep corporate money out of politics, because all that does is let people buy off the government and suppress actual voter initiative.

      I figure that if, say, Coca-cola has to stand behind a non-profit organization to lobby in the state, the driving motives will change, because if it becomes obvious that the non-profit group they donate to is asking for things that are unrelated to what they stand for… well then public, as well as government disapproval will cause them problems. Instead, they can have limited influence through non-profit groups that have similar goals. But then– I’m not sure exactly how these things work, and I’d love to understand the process a bit more.

      Part of the problem is that the status quo is maintained far too often, because voters are unaware of said corporate lobbying, and even when they are, they can feel trapped. Trapped by the ‘need’ for their Coke products or their cheap Wal-Mart prices, or whatever… so instead of speaking out against what they know is wrong, they sit by and let it slide, because of the sacrifice involved and the power that these corporations already have.

      And politicians and parties won’t back such– dare I say it?– left-leaning ideals because if they do so, they lose corporate funding and support, as well as often becoming unpopular with right-wing corporatist supporters. I feel like no one knows how destructive corporatism is to both a true free market OR a more egalitarian/socialist approach, it’s a subtle fascism that no one sees.

      The only ‘problem’ I see with denying corporations lobbying rights is that the voters could then effectively shut them down with legislation– and mob mentality would probably do that sooner or later. The ensuing economic upheaval might be worse the current recession– so a gradual approach might be good, but that would just drag things out. What the companies need is the right to contest laws that would obviously put them out of business or something– some measure of protection… not sure. I’m all for smaller companies, more localized, decentralized, yada yada, but we do have to a little careful, because some of us work for a living in these large companies.

      I think this might make it easier in some ways for small businesses to enter the market.

    • Myke

      Also– check it out, the Supreme court just ruled to basically repeal 50 years of restrictions on Corporate involvement in political lobbying and the like.
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/21/AR2010012102654.html

  2. Myke,

    I agree that corporations and lobbyists can be extremely bad for our country and economy. I do see things a little differently though.

    I think there is an important place in our government for lobbyists. They provide valuable resources to legislators and do a lot of the research and grunt work for the bills and amendments. The key is not whether we should have them but how we can get more so that it is more balanced.

    I worked for the State legislature and saw that the best bills where those that had quality lobbyists on both sides. The bills were written cleaner, the arguments were crisper and the ugly truths came out more often.

    For me I say ok to lobbyists, I just want both sides of every issue to have one. Regular citizens just need to step up on issues they care about and do some work to counter corporate lobbyists. That’s the beauty of the legislative process.

    • Myke

      Seth, I always appreciate your input– you’re one of the more reasonable conservatives I’ve encountered.

      In response, I’ll say this, 1) I agree with your implication that the American Public need to be better informed and more involved. However, my stance is not to outlaw lobbyists entirely, in fact this is part of the problem– as you say when the issues are debated and quality lobbyists were found on both sides things are clearer… however… the money and power that corporate entities direct, as well as the status quo they maintain I feel can easily leave left leaning arguments and other opposing viewpoints without an effective competitor (lobbyist of their own). That’s my reasoning here… I don’t want lobbyists and the corporations they represent making the decisions– because a corporation’s #1 motivation is profit and the continued existence of the company (they’re usually trying to avoid changes in their high-selling products and services, too)– they are less concerned with the common good, by their very nature. I also believe that smaller corporations and smaller businesses lead to a freer market (is that a word?), thereby INCREASING competition, making it easier for new businesses to enter the market, and there’s a lot more where that came from… but you get my drift… keep discussing, though– I’m open to other alternatives that would ‘level the playing field’…

  3. Ted

    If it’s any consolation, my college has no vending machines and soft drinks are banned at my local school district. Our country recently passed a law that all fast food restaurants have to list calorie counts on all of their menus. This definitely curbs our eating habits.

    My suggestion is knowledge. I know it sounds idealistic, but I honestly believe that freedom of information is more important than money. Corporate interests are powerful, but civic movements and the spreading of knowledge, I think, is a great counteraction towards corporate interests. It just requires, you know, civic awareness and initiative.

    • Ted, I understand this sentiment. However, I’m not exactly sure what you’re arguing for. With freedom of information comes freedom of misinformation– which of course is a tactic used by PR firms all the time already. On the other hand, regulation of the ‘information sector’ brings with it many things not so comfortable to most of us.

  4. Dale

    First, Every company/entity/thing’s purpose is to to profit. A non Profit organizations goal is to make money. just a certain % has to be used for their purpose. Government’s main goal is it make a profit. Individuals and corporations main purpose is to make a Profit. THat is what our country was founded on. Our free will to make choices(within the law) that will lead us to prosper.
    Secondly, Left or right… It doesn’t matter their are lobyists all around. Unions are gay(at least 95% of them are) and worthless. They are more often than not Left leaning. Corportaions tend to be more right winged because of tax reasons and what not. So its not really a “poltical” sided thing.

    For example on the healthcare bill that thankfully most likely wont go anywhere, They were exempting unions from the tax every other citizen would have to pay.

    Basically what i think is lobbyist should be able to try and do what they do. But I think bills enacted by congress should be limited on length and have direct and to the point(covering loopholes). NO throwing in random things not pertaining to the bill. hoprfully that makes sense.

    Honestly either way i don’t think enacting a law or taking away a law will change how politics work because lawyers will make a ton of money finding the ways around such laws.

    • Myke

      I disagree about the profit motivation. Just because you think that most people have that drive doesn’t mean that’s why they lobby, money alone isn’t their motive. Freedom or equality, or the right to expect companies or individuals to be honest and trustworthy are very often the motives. I agree that poor bills get passed quite often, you should read Waite’s reply– he’s been part of that process, but this allows corporations with large amounts of influence a greater degree of freedom than before, and corporations, although often not intending to do things that will harm others, aren’t particularly concerned with the outcome. The people in the company might be, but more often they’re just getting paid and doing their part in the big machine. Read ‘The Banality of Evil’ by Hannah Arendt.

    • Dale

      I didn’t say motivation i said purpose. Just because your “goal” is worthy that does not mean you are not trying to make a profit.

    • Myke

      I think we’re confusing each other because we don’t agree on a fundamental motive– again, the ‘purpose’ of a group is a little more vague a concept– and I think there would be plenty to tell you that their organization doesn’t actually make a profit, and that it isn’t what they’re after, but the motive is what I’m looking at in this case, rather than the purpose.
      Granted, a non-profit organization needs to stay afloat, but they’re purpose– to raise money? I’m not sure I can agree with that. And some of them are more honest than others, I’m sure, but my specific point here is that we should be concerned that corporations have such influence in politics. A voice with 5 million dollars attached to it is more often ‘heard’ than the average American’s voice. I’m gonna have stick with Waite on this one– the answer lies in more people becoming civicly involved, so that our voice isn’t drowned out by some company or special interest group that happens to have money… and reforming our attitudes and expectations (not to mention laws) about lobbying in general.

  5. Eric

    After reading up a bit, I’m wondering if lobbying is itself the problem. It seems that, in a perfect world, lobbying would be a necessary means for certain groups to have their voices heard. The problem comes when the voice of lobbyists overpower the voice of larger groups or the general public. I agree with Dale’s idea of limiting pork-barrel measures and other extraneous items in bills. If there were other ways to limit the ‘volume’ of lobbyists so that all voices could be heard, that’d be great.

    As for the recent ruling concerning campaign contributions from large corporations, I think there’s a little bit too much panic coming from opponents of the ruling. I have a feeling that the money that will henceforth come from corporations would have come from them anyway, though less direct means. People have a knack for finding loopholes. Will this ruling set a dangerous precedent? It might. But for now, I don’t actually think it will change much.

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