Boy, that post title doesn’t inspire much confidence does it? It sounds like a Sunday morning talk show kind of topic. Well, I can be funny about it!
Ok, no I really can’t.
But a reader asked a question in the comments of my post about advocacy after the election about the influence of corporations in government . I wrote her an answer via email and I liked it so much that I’m publishing it today. I’m no constitutional scholar, nor am I an expert in campaign finance but I am a news and political junkie who’s given the matter some thought. And I don’t particularly want to live in the United States of Halliburton so I’d like to see some changes.
My opinions are completely my own and are just that: opinions. If you diagree, please be polite about it.
Do you have a question about something in politics or a current event that you’d like to hear me sound off on? Ask away! I love being able to talk about this stuff and I’d love to know what other people find interesting!
Q:I’ve never met an “insider” before but can be very passionate about the way we govern. My question to you is…is the government currently run by corporations to the extent that we have to have a whole “do over?”. I hope I don’t sound too much like a conspirisist. Maybe I have just lost hope…
A: What a fascinating and complicated question! First, let me say that I’m not an expert in this. I just have some opinions and I’m happy to share. Corporations have a LOT of power. But a lot of that power could be repealed by removing them from the election process. Corporations have long been able to hand out checks to help finance campaigns and that often (or always) gave them access to legislators in ways that were unhealthy for individuals. That’s been compounded in the past year with the Citizens United decision out of the Supreme Court which rules that there should be no limits on the political speech by coroporations so they can give more money to campaigns and do more third-party advertising. That’s really bad news for individuals because it means corporations can back pro-business candidates and shut out less business-friendly candidates. I’m a major propoenet of massive election law overhaul that takes ALL private money out of the process, limits campaigns lengths and makes elections publicly financed.
Which means I’m in favor of yet another government funded program. Oh well.
That’s not to say that I think business should be shut out of political discourse entirely. There are concerns unique to business that need to be brought to the attention of government and arrangements need to be made to address those situations. That’s why you’ll never hear me begrudge a trade association or industry lobbyist their time meeting with a Hill office: it’s their right. I just don’t want them to throw money behind the information. That tips the scales in favor of business and is not fair to individuals.
The problem with business is that they exist to make money and maximizing profits is their ultimate goal. Their purpose is not to promote the well-being of the populace. The government’s purpose IS to promote the well-being of the populace and should protect individuals from exploitive practices of business. When they give business greater consideration than they give individuals, we have a basic disconnect of government’s true allegiance. I take this idea from the preamble to the Constitution which addresses the needs of people explicitly. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
That all being said, do we need to start over? No. Not in my opinion. We have a good system. With some major flaws. I think reforming election law would change the face of Congress and change the balance of power between individuals and businesses. But right now there’s a trend toward giving corporations more of the rights of citizenship. Can it be reversed? Yes. Is there a will to do it? Not yet.