November 5, 2008
-- by Dave Johnson
OK, the Republicans are out of the picture. It will take parts of the country a while to come to terms with that. Especially the media, always behind the curve. Our TV screens and newspaper columns might still feature older, well-to-do, white conservatives but We, the People have taken back control.
One gift the conservatives gave us with their election tactics was a clear mandate for socialism. They spent weeks telling the country that an Obama victory was a victory for socialism. And We, the People came out and voted and provided a clear landslide mandate to "spread the wealth around."
NOW we start the fight to create a country and an an economy that works for US, for We, the People.
Things that are for the people: Health care. Vacations. Child care. Mass transit. Unions. Pensions. Environmental protections and clean energy. Education. Nutrition. Housing. Income security.
What needs to change? Wow, where to start.
Our fight starts with getting corporate power under control and working for us again. That is job one. Corporations exist because We, the People make the laws and the roads and everything else that allows corporations to exist and make money. And we do the work. Why do we do this? For OUR benefit -- Why ELSE would we? Did we set up this system so that a very few can use its resources to get all of the benefits of everything we all do? As this blog's motto has been for several years: Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
We need to get the influence of corporate money our of our politics and out of our lives. Corporate resources should not be used by executives to have influence on our politics. That is not what corporate resources are supposed to be for. We, the People are supposed to tell corporations how to behave, not the other way around.
We need to keep corporate influence away from how we think about politics as well! In a democracy it is up to We, the People to tell companies what they do, not the other way around. Beyond that, we also need controls on advertising to keep them from influencing our humanity -- what we think we need and want and how we think we should live our lives, just to sell products that harm us and the planet.
So job one is prohibiting the use of corporate resources to influence our politics, our thinking and our humanity
Posted by Dave Johnson at November 5, 2008 6:56 AM
How many times a day do you think corporate lobbyists touch your member of Congress? There are an estimated 65 registered lobbyists per member of Congress. And there are many ways to lobby that do not require registration, like the legalized bribery of corporate campaign contributions.
If we want to diminish corporate influence on our government, we're going to have to find a way to make the participation in governmental decision-making, in both the executive and legislative branches, totally transparent.
It is almost impossible to underestimate the corrupting impact of corporate lobbyists on the people who work in the legislative and the executive branches of the federal government. By corruption, I mean a process that is much more invasive and pervasive than anything that might be prosecuted as a crime, or as a violation of ethics rules. I mean the day-in, day-out presence of lobbyists in the lives of our elected officials and their staffs: the phone calls, the office visits, the socializing, the position papers, the very writing of bills themselves.
Here's a simple proposal: suppose we asked Congres to pass a law requiring every employee of the Congress, Members and staff, and every employee of the federal government, to file a report about every contact they had with lobbyists. This report should include the date/time/duration of the contact, the names of everyone participating in the discussion/on the email list/on a conference call, the issues and/or legislation under discussion, and a characterization of the ideas/proposals/suggestions put forward. If the lobbyist provided any written material in either print or electronic format, those materials should be attached to the report of this contact.
All of this information should be entered into a fully searchable database that is available for review by the public online.
You can hear the whelping and the screaming about what an unbearable imposition such a system would be. Poor babies. What is truly unbearable is that these contacts are taking place without any form of democratic accountability beyond the pathetically weak existing system of lobbyist registration.
The Sunshine Foundation is doing good work on many fronts to make government more transparent: maybe they'd like to go after lobbyists more aggressively. (http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/)
Haha. Digby made the same point - America clearly voted for socialism!
The idea of the public good really needs to come back.
Posted by: Batocchio at November 5, 2008 10:43 AM
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