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Spending out both ends
This is a continuation of a previous post and a discussion carried over from Dustbury.com. This was originally going to be a comment over there, but it started getting way to long.
RE: Government regulations and lobbying.
They key is to make sure that a good balance is maintained. I'm sure that many corporations would like the govt to get out of the business of acting on the behalf of its citizens. I find that the question in not whether government has a role in regulating but the fairness of those regulations. I see it as a playing field analogy. In every contested event you have basic groundrules. In basketball, you have to dribble, you can't kick the ball, and you have to get it through the hoop to score a point, in football, a team has to maintain possession, only certain formations are possible, and you get six points per touchdown and a chance for an extra point.
The economy of a country is like a competitive event. And the government has to work as the referees. This way the citizens determine the rules by which business is conducted. As long as the rules are known to all parties and are applied fairly across the board then all is good. Its fair that companies ask the government to change the rules if they think they are harsh, an impediment to business or applied unevenly. Its foolish I think to ask that there be no rules. That will be a disaster in my opinion. But some advocate for such conditions. I would go so far to say that should we continue down the road of handing the decision making process over to international trade bodies we are in effect giving up our ability to determine the rules of the game. And they will henceforth be written solely by corporate interests with little or no obligation to act in the good of the national citizens.
Politicians are supposed to be advocates for people and companies alike. But it seems that too often companies have more say than individuals. I see the Bush admin as the prime example of corporate cronyism at the expense of overall economic and social health. The balance is being tilted heavily in one direction. One that favors a small segment of the society at the expense of the rest of us. Take a quick look at some of the policies being promoted. The Medicare Bill is a great example. This bill effectively gives the drug companies a captive market, funded by tax dollars that has already given up its right to bargain for lower prices. The targeted tax cuts are another great example. Only a small percentage of people are affected by estate taxes or capital gains taxes, and those people just also happen to be the same people that are at the head of these mega-corporations and giving heavily to political campaigns. Bush is giving everybody all that they have asked for, cuts in income taxes and large new government spending programs lean on accountability. I call that spending out of both ends! Its what you would expect to see from an administration that puts the overall interests of its constituents (in this case, corporations) ahead of the interests of the citizenry.
The worst case scenario is one where the government gets into the game of selecting individual winners by relaxing the rules for just that one company or interest. This will have the negative effect of destroying other healthy entities. The effect is the same as if the refs of a football game would always let one team get away with holding while always calling it on the other team. The winner of the contest would not be the best at playing the game but the ones that had an unfair advantage. Right now the battle for the ears of politicians is not between the people and the corporations but rather between one group of interests and another. So electing a Democrat will change the atmosphere in Washington but we shouldn't expect miracles.
One of the reasons that I find Democrats on the whole less despicable is because of the interests that they represent, unions, teachers, environmental groups, and a host of other citizen advocacy groups. The balance sheet for the Republicans looks like a who's who of the powerful and the corrupt. That's not to say that those same faces don't appear on the Democratic side as well. They are nothing if not resourceful, even if that means spending time in both beds.
This chart at Opensecrets.org will illustrate that point, with Dems and Reps getting money from all industries with certain industries favoring one party over the other. You will notice that overall Republicans get more money from a larger group of people. Looking through the tables I had to wonder just where the Democrats get their money. It comes from a few places in large amounts. Labor Unions give almost solely to Democrats, Entertainment groups give to both sides but there are a few large donors that tip that scale in the D favor. In most industries the majority of donors give to the Republicans while a small percentage goes to Democrats, with Labor and Entertainment money making up the difference.
He.. its no wonder Republicans hate Trial Lawyers, Hollywood and Labor Unions... without them there wouldn't be a Democratic party! ON the other side you have the usual litany of corporate villains, Tobacco Companies, Agribusiness, Oil Companies... and Wal Mart, who gave 8 to 1 to Republicans.
If you have the time take a few minutes to look through the charts at who is giving to who. Its an eye opener.
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