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November 24, 2008

Are Bailouts Funding Lobbying?

-- by Dave Johnson

In the discussions of the bailouts progressives have talked about protecting the taxpayers through compensation limits, equity positions instead of just handing over funds, etc. But I don't think we have asked for what I think could be one of the most effective ideas for restoring and protecting democracy -- and thereby preventing disasters like the one we are experiencing.

Let's start demanding that companies receiving bailout funds stop lobbying and stop the other things they do to influence public opinion and policy decisions! This includes funding right-wing "think tanks," PR firms, etc.

My own preference would be to ban *all* use of corporate funds for any purposes of influencing public opinion or government policy. I am of the opinion that corporate money should be used to run the corporation, period. Lobbying, etc. does not benefit the interests of the corporations -- because corporations do not have interests. They are supposed to just operate within the rules WE set. What we are seeing is corporate resources wrongly being used for the personal interests of executives and a few wealthy shareholders, not to promote the broader interests of all the shareholders, the long-term well-being of the company, and our society. I believe that We, the People should be making the laws, telling corporations how they can operate, not the other way around. We are the boss of them.

So demanding that companies receiving bailout funds must cease all lobbying is a way to introduce this idea that the people should be in control of decision-making in general. It is an Overton Window tactic to start getting the public talking about the idea that corporations should be out of our politics, leaving the decision-making to We, the People.

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 24, 2008 5:22 PM


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