Financial Lobbying Should Be Banned
Public Citizen posted an article which clearly articulates why financial lobbying is a massive, likely top 5, problem facing democracies:
Big Tech, Big Cash: Washington’s New Power Players
An updated analysis of the rise in lobbying and campaign contributions from the Big Tech companies: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
“I can tell you [political spending] plays an important role. Not because the checks are big, but because the way the political process works. Politicians in the United States have events, they have weekend retreats, you have to write a check and then you’re invited and participate.“
So if you work in the government affairs team in the United States, you spend your weekends going to these events; you spend your evenings going to these dinners, and the reason you go is because the PAC writes a check.“
But out of that ongoing effort a relationship evolves and emerges and solidifies … I’m sometimes calling members and asking for their help on green cards, or on visa issues … Or the issues around national security, or privacy …
“There are times when I call people who I don’t personally know, and somebody will say ‘you know, your folks have always shown up for me at my events. And we have a good relationship. Let me see what I can do to help you.’”
– Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
– Mick Mulvaney, former U.S. Representative
In recent years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all come under increased scrutiny for threatening our privacy, democracy, small businesses, and workers.
In the race to amass monopoly power in their respective markets, these corporations have developed predatory business practices that harvest user data for profit and facilitated discrimination by race, religion, national origin, age, and gender. Facebook and Google have wielded unprecedented influence over our democratic process. Amazon has been accused of subjecting workers to unsafe working conditions during COVID-19, while the plurality of its workforce is Black, brown, and/or non-white. All of these companies have killed, rather than fostered innovation.
Increased investments in Washington have allowed these monopolists to harm consumers, workers, and other businesses alike, with relatively little accountability to date. A report Public Citizen released in 2019 (covering up to the 2018 election cycle) detailed how Big Tech corporations have blanketed Capitol Hill with lobbyists and lavished members of Congress with campaign contributions.
Facebook and Amazon are now the two biggest corporate lobbying spenders in the country.
Big Tech has eclipsed yesterday’s big lobbying spenders, Big Oil and Big Tobacco. In 2020, Amazon and Facebook spent nearly twice as much as Exxon and Philip Morris on lobbying.
During the 2020 election cycle, Big Tech spent $124 million in lobbying and campaign contributions –– breaking its own records from past election cycles.
Nearly all (94%) members of Congress with jurisdiction over privacy and antitrust issues have received money from a Big Tech corporate PAC or lobbyist. In total, just in 2020, Big Tech PACs and lobbyists have contributed about $3.2 million to lawmakers tasked with regulating them.
You can’t have a functioning society when the governmental class that is supposed to regulate the entrepreneurial class is directly funded by the entrepreneurial class.
The interests of the people become the interests of the lobbyists:
- The government officials cannot get elected without the financial support of the financial elite (lobbyists).
- The financial elite make the government officials dependent on their funding.
- The government officials then prioritize lobbyists more than they do their own constituents.
- The constituents then have minimal to no representation in either their government or their institutions.
Lobbying, by itself, is a necessary evil. Groups or other independent units need to form together to protect their own interests in a rule by many society. Financial lobbying (writing checks to government officials), however, is not one of those necessities.
It is merely a method by which centralizers can secure even more power and privilege over the general population.
I spoke about this previously when describing the power cycle when institutions take control of a nation:
In rule by few frameworks, there are two options:
The government controls both the citizens and institutions (similar to a rule by one framework) [When the government is “the few”]
The institutions control both the citizens and the government [When the institutions are “the few”]
The institutions are the ones that lobby. They are the ones with the most money and power to do so effectively. Facebook, Google, Big Oil, Big Green, and the like.
When you combine both financial elites and political lobbying, you end up with the institutions controlling both the citizens (through direct institutional control) and the government (through indirectly controlling the representatives).
This is a rule by few. Better know as an oligarchy, aristocracy, or degenerative republic.
Which is what we now reside under. Which is why in any sustainable governmental system, financial lobbying could never be an allowable event.
The solution is not difficult, either. Simply ban it and mark campaign finance needs as a taxpayer cost. Each candidate gets a set amount per their specific election. No more or less can be spent or fundraised. For-profits cannot contribute to anything, at all, even privately. Private citizens and non-profits could use their own money up to a certain amount without restrictions. Centralizers could not.
The long-term savings of an approach like this would pay back well beyond the costs in societal sustainability and anti-corruption.