Reasonable Suspicion

The US Government is a mess. Congress is full of a bunch of ideologues who refuse to compromise. The cynical view is that they’ve all been bought, and there is a good chance that’s correct.

A good place to start considering how to fix corruption is to look at how to measure it.

A good place to look for the source of corruption is the combination of advertising and lobbying. Off the top of my head, the industries that seem to participate in both are:

  • Processed Foods
  • Mass Retailers
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Fast Food
  • Wireless Telephone Companies
  • Car Manufacturers
  • Dairy
  • Banks

Further research on lobbying and advertising show the following that should have been more obvious:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Insurance
  • Realtors
  • Macro-Brewed Beer
  • Tobacco
  • Guns
  • Home Builders

There are a few key reasons for these industries to lobby:

  1. To keep favorable laws in place
    • Macro-Brewed Beer – Protecting the silly prohibition-era laws that let Anheiser Bush own the beer distribution and retailing markets
    • Real Estate laws that protect their 6% a new home purchase price
    • Mass Retailers and Fast Food who rely on government subsidies and minimum wage levels to support their below-poverty level wages
    • The  dairy industry who has built a market based on lies
    • Home Builders who need a country that encourages suburbia laws and highways to keep new housing prices low enough to justify long commutes
  2. To prevent potentially damaging laws
    • Fossil Fuels that benefit from a lack of environmental focus that dooms us to burn up rather than invest in alternative fuels and laws that support a life on earth beyond 50 years from now
    • Insurance who doesn’t know what government might do, but whatever it might be is scary.
    • Meat who faces risks from environmental impact, animal rights, and nutritional advocates
    • Tobacco to slow the destruction of their industry
    • Guns to prevent regulations that fuel their market through the their ability to fuel mass murder
    • Banks who don’t want regulations or reasonable incentive pay changes to encourage prudence over risk

When looking for a recipe that encourages corruption, the intersection of advertising and lobbying is a great place to look.

Something that allows lobbying to persist is the public votes of legislators. That allows lobbyists to get confirmation that they were able to buy their votes. With private voting by legislators, they would be more reluctant to pay a lot of money to legislators to buy their votes.

Republicans seem to have found a recipe to court a lobbying juggernaut of lack of regulations that allows big businesses to profit at the expense of general welfare (minimum wage, environment/pollution/global warming) by leveraging public paranoia on social issues that encourage the suppression of weaker political groups (homosexuals, blacks, hispanics) as justification for them to be able to get elected.

I’d be interested in the relative amount spent on buying the two political parties, and the number of people who are the beneficiaries of those purchases.

Minimal research has pointed to opensecrets.org as a great resource for looking at lobbying data.

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