So far, I’ve abstained from posts about the Fiscal Cliff or Fiscal Crag or Hoar Frosty Diving Board Into the Socio-Economic Pits of Hell. One, there is chatter enough without me throwing in my rapidly worthless 2 cents. Two, it is the most predictable story in the history of politics. But, let me throw in at least a cent and a half with the caveat that this post isn’t all about the cliff, but the behavior surrounding the tax hike on the wealthy.
It’s safe to say the Republican party is suffering bit of internal strife. Their election bid failed for many completely foreseeable reasons, not the least of which was acting like imbeciles led by a candidate who never met a position he wouldn’t gladly abandon. The Republican intelligentsia, like Bobby Jindal (And let’s face it, how intelligent can your intelligentsia be if Jindal represents it?), keeps trying to tell the Tea Partiers, Grover Grovelers, and Evangelical Loons to cool it. “Psst. They finally caught onto us. Shut up and look smart for a change you guys.” But, they just don’t get it.
If there is a universal political sentiment in this country it is that there are far too many lobbyists. Some might quibble (primarily politicians and the lobbyists themselves) that lobbyists are a good thing – at least as long as they work for someone or something with which you agree. However, most everyone else sees them as carbuncles on the ass of society.
If companies or organizations want to change or forestall legislation, they hire lobbyists. If they want to convince the public that whatever crapulent agenda they’re pushing is the best thing since Automatic Cheez Wiz, they hire another one. If a politician needs a job, lobbying firms make dandy employment agencies for the corrupt or contemptible. And when their asses are caught in a crack, they “lobbyist up” as Catherine Willows might say, “lawyered up” (and yes, that crime reference is not accidental).
There are many asses stuck in many cracks these days and chief among them is Goldman Sachs, a company so tone deaf and aggressively malevolent they might just as well drop the pretense and say, “It doesn’t matter what you serfs think, your asses belong to us and we intend to give them vigorous workouts every morning, noon, and night…sans Vaseline…f*ck you very much.”
What to Do When One’s Ass is In a Crack
Hmm, ass in crack. Unwilling to yield any quarter. A total absence of fair play or moral conscience. Why, it must be time to bring in more lobbyists!”
The Constitution doesn’t say word one about companies being treated like people as in “We the people”. Companies and other interest groups gained that distinction in one of the most short-sighted court decisions ever and continue to maintain it through an unending string of precedents based on that flawed original sin.
Lobbyists have helped propagate the idea of anthropomorphized corporations and interest groups with such zeal and profit to themselves, they are no longer afforded the same rights as people. Instead, they are invested with 10 times the rights of people and are a de facto fourth branch of US government.
The Dust of Democracy
It’s not as if there aren’t benefits in corporations and interest groups getting their say. However, near-complete control over the legislative process is bad for everyone – lobbyist-packed organizations included. There is a way to stop this steady erosion of power for the people, but it is doomed to failure. the people making decisions about the role of lobbying are the ones most directly benefited by not only holding the status quo, but going the extra mile to leave it in the dust of democracy blown away.
But, one can always dream. Here’s a plan that could equalize participation in the sausage-making of American democracy:
Limit every company or special interest organization to one lobbyist.
Limit every politician to one $100 contribution from each lobbyist. Contribution defined as actual money sent directly to the politician. No more golfing weekends, lavish dinners, S&M club visits, or prostitutes on call – unless they cost less than $100 a pop. And word to the wise, that $100 hooker isn’t the bargain basement deal she might seem.
Limit meetings between lobbyists and politicians to no more than the number of meetings held with individuals per year. The number of which must be reported in the public record. No more Cheneyesque aversion to sunshine.
Bar lobbyists from any closed-door debate about legislation.
Bar lobbyists from writing any piece or part of legislation.
Unfortunately, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein can’t take heart in these recommendations as he does “God’s Work” on behalf of all Americans great and small. And neither will most corporations, unions, trade organizations, foreign countries, special interest groups, and politicians of every kind and every political party. In the immutable laws of human nature, no one gives up power without a fight.
Especially when the fight is heavily rigged for them to win.