My video obviously pertains to my blog. One issue I thought was important to highlight was the 2008 Presidential campaign, and the money spent so far. I believe that far too much money has been spent in this campaign, and contributors could have spent their well earned money on so many other important issues our country is currently facing. I decided to research the corporations who contributed the most to each candidate. It turned out that many of these corporations are heavily involved in federal legislation. Many of the corporations are involved in the financial sector. It is incredible to what extent these corporations are involved in federal legislation. The fact that they are spending millions of dollars in an attempt for favorable economic and environmental leeways. I also thought it was important to mention what our government has or is working on to deter corruption in corporate lobbying. My blog issue does not receive much media attention, but I believe if we, as citizens of the United States of America, demand our country addresses this issue, we can change the way corporations deal with our politicians.
When arguing or attempting to persuade people in an idea you truly believe in, it is important to address the opposing side’s arguments in the case. When it comes to the opposing side, in latent terms, they believe the United States government is not corrupt. And I do know our government is working on deterring corruption in all fields of the government. I looked on the U.S. Department of State’s website, more specifically, the page titled, “U.S. Government Initiatives to Fight Corruption”. The website can be found at http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/fs/13594.htm.
Here are some things the government is doing to deter corruption:
- The new Millennium Challenge Account (“the Account”) will tie billions of dollars in extra U.S. foreign development assistance over the next three years to, among other factors, the recipient’s commitments to good governance and anticorruption efforts. President George W. Bush, during the March 2002 speech that launched the Account, announced that the governments and NGOs around the world “must encourage developing countries to make the right choices for their own people.” Since “good government is an essential condition of development…[the Account] will reward nations that root out corruption, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law.”
- n January 2002, the United Nations (UN) began negotiations for a global anticorruption convention that will most likely include international standards for governance and prevention, commitments to criminalize certain corrupt behavior, and measures to improve international cooperation among governments in this area. The USG is actively participating in these negotiations, devoting significant effort to the issue of facilitating the recovery of assets that have been transferred abroad by corrupt officials including preventive measures to ensure that assets are not stolen and laundered in the first place.
- The Second Global Forum held at The Hague in May 2001 was strongly supported by the George W. Bush administration. The President provided a formal written statement and Attorney General Ashcroft led the USG delegation. Over 120 governments were represented at the ministerial level or above. All participants strongly denounced corruption and shared their experience with effective corruption preventive measures during an extensive series of workshops. The USG also sent a delegation to the NGO-sponsored 10th International Anticorruption Conference (IACC), held in Prague in October 2001.
And the list goes on. But as I have been saying, these “attempts” are not enough, and I believe these “attempts” are just other ways our government tries to get us off their backs. I know they have difficult jobs, and I respect the work they do, but they could be doing better. It is up to us, the people to take back the power from the government and put it back into our hands!
In an article by Thomas Sowell, published January 24, 2006, in Capitalism Magazine, he brings up a very important point in which I believe I have forgotten to mention. Corruption isn’t just taking money and bribes from any willing source, it is “whenever it is diverted from its avowed purpose and directed toward some other goal, especially goals that conflict with its purpose.” I do not believe that many of our government officials truly have their citizens’ best interests at heart. And that is not to say because they just don’t care. Once again, they are bogged down trying to bring in irate amounts of money from wherever they can get it.
The author also discusses how insanely difficult our country makes it for anyone to run for political office. He goes onto say “At the heart of much government corruption is one simple thing: Re-election. It takes big bucks to run a political campaign and all that most politicians have to sell is the power of government that they control.” He does give some advice though, and I believe it is true to some extent. He believes we, as a country, should put a limit on the number of terms a politician can run for office. I do see where he is coming from, in the sense that they may take more time to serve in public interest, but what if a politician can run for multiple terms, AND, serve in the publics’ best interests?
You can find the article at, http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4545
On this website I was able to read just in the year of 2006, what government officials had admitted to or were accused of when it comes to corruption within the United States’ government. I thought it would be important to mention the case of Jack Abramoff again, only because what we have been discussing in our class. Him and Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials on behalf of Indian tribes and other clients. Other cases mentioned that I believe to be important are:
In March, former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors in exchange for government business.
In April, Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W. Va., abandoned his seat on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct – commonly known as the ethics committee – amid allegations that he improperly directed government funds to foundations in his state, to his own financial benefit. Mollohan has denied wrongdoing.
Some may say that in other parts around the world this is part of everyday life, and bribes are an accepted business and government practice. But does the United States not pride itself on being “better than that”? My problem is, is that we have let our current system of “donating” money spin out of control. Here is the website that I found. http://www.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/United%20States/notebook.cfm?gclid=CLzvlojRx5ICFR70IgodLkLHYQ
Due to the comment left I was intrigued to follow a blog pertaining to my topic. You can check it out at http://thekaufmannpost.net/. I watched the video posted on the blog about the state of Alaska. It reminded me a lot of the presentation on “Earmarks” given earlier this semester.
On a more specific note, I found this very interesting video on youtube.com myself relating to specific corporate lobbying and our 2008 Presidential Candidates. I think the candidates bring up interesting and legitimate points from both sides of the fence.
In USA Today.com, there is an article titled “House still allows parties with lobbyists; Critics balk at ‘massive loophole’ in ethics rules; Senate has tighter limits on convention events“. The article discusses how lobbying and special interests groups are supposed to a long gone idea, however, that is not the case. The article goes on to talk about how after the democrats took control of Congress more and more parties inviting these special interests and lobbyist groups into their domain. On the flip side, which I must say I am quite pleased to read, our Senate is attempting to restrict these sort of parties and events from taking place. I believe this is a positive step forward for our country’s political processes.
One step forward is a recent ethics law that was passed in September “bars a member of Congress from participating in an event “honoring that member” if it’s funded by federal lobbyists or their clients. The panel that oversees ethics for the House deemed attendance at such parties acceptable as long as multiple members of Congress were being honored at the same time.” This type of law is what I believe our country needs to implement so our corporate lobbyists and their practices do not spin out of control! http://ntserver1.wsulibs.wsu.edu:2060/pqdweb?index=1&did=1427275891&SrchMode=1&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1206130610&clientId=3738
When talking about the corruption within the United States, it is often difficult to find striking evidence to point a figure at anyone or organization specifically. However, there have been instances when political officials and instituions have been prosecuted for their “deviant” behaviors. Nevertheless, I do believe more often than not our government chooses to turn their head the other way. Like the old saying goes, “If you can’t see it, it’s not there.” We should be asking for more from our government, starting with accountability.
In an article by Gerald E. Caiden, “Governance and Anticorruption” he discusses how corruption in our government is inevitable, but inexcusable. He goes on to discuss the fact that in every society there is corruption to a degree, but within our own government it is tolerated much more than it should be. Caiden states it perfectly, “The heart of contemporary global corruption is money or power connected to money interests, which involves the exploitation of the poor, especially by kleptomaniac power elites who monopolize public audiority.” That is exactly what our government is doing right now. Even if they are not directly involved, they are allowing the big businesses of our country to manipulate other countries and institutions around the world!
In an article titled, “The Paradox of American Corporate Lobbying” the author discusses the American auto industry is blaming our country’s financial struggles on rising costs of health insurance and pensions. However, the author, who remains anonymous, says that many critics, “argue that much of the problem lies within their lobbying efforts to keep fuel efficiency standards low, rather than opt for more environmentally friendly standards”. In other words, the auto industry is so focused on their benefits rather than our country’s and world’s environment they are willing to donate millions of dollars in campaign contributions in order to pursue their political and economic agendas.
The article sites that “On average, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which also represents foreign automakers, spent $36 million between 2000 and 2005 on lobbying efforts, while General Motors and Ford spend $43 million and $36 million, respectively, on similar lobbying efforts.” These massive contributions, as we will call it, are given in hopes of avoiding stricter laws and penalties in an attempt to reduce global warming. The sad thing is, our government is allowing these types of corporate lobbying practices to continue.
I would just like to start out by saying that I have no harsh feelings towards the Bush administration. I just would like to get my point across how big businesses pursue their economic and political agendas by “donating” large sums of money towards political officials running for office.
With that said, in the first book we read in this class, Unsustainable, Patrick Hossay discusses campaign contributions President Bush. He begins by saying that a “full 77 per cent of the campaign contributions from major plluters went to Republican candidates or to party committees in the 2000 election. After providing $3 million in campaign support, the mining industry enjoyed the elimination of major environmental controls on coal and hardrock mining. After contributing about the same amount, the timber industry enjoyed new policies that encourage deep logging in national forests. After donating over $18 million to the Bush campaign and party, chemical manufacturers benefited freom a policy change that required taxpayers, not polluting industries, to pay for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. After receiving a donation of $17 million from the oil and gas industry, the Bush administration opened up environmentally fragile areas in and around national monuments and parks to oil and gas drilling.
He goes on, but I will spare you. My point is, the United States’ political officials are not held accountable when they bend the rules for friends and allies who give them large sums of money. Our country must do something about the amount of money we allow to be donated or contributed to elections.
In the year 2007, lobbyists contributed $7,552,200.00 to government spending. When I researched the 2008 election cycle the amount of money contributed from lobbyists so far totals to $13,499,016.00. Of that money 4% ($588,953.00) comes from PACs, and 96% ($12,910,053.00) comes from individuals. Now, when I say individuals this can include anyone who contributed more than $200.00. Republicans received 43% ($5, 751, 095.00). Democrats received 57% of that money ($7,744,621.00). The top five groups that contributed to the 2008 election cycle are as follows:
1. WPP Group ($683,677.00) 49% of that going to Democrats and 51% to Republicans
This group is a subsidiary of Flanagan Consulting
2. PMA Group ($544, 150.00) 76% of that going to Democrats and 24% to Republicans
This group is a subsidiary of BC&A Intl.
3. Van Scoyoc Assoc ($464, 705.00) 61% of that going to Democrats and 39% to Republicans
This group is a subsidiary of Capital Decisions Inc
4.Interpublic Group Co ($353, 874.00) 62% of that going to Democrats and 38% to Republicans
5. Livingston Group ($251, 450.00) 26% of that going to Democrats and 74% to Republican
I don’t disagree with the fact that companies are allowed to contribute money to campaigns based on their company’s interests and values. However, I do believe there needs to be a cap on lobbyist spending. Companies that bring in mass revenue such as GE or Boeing are able to contribute massive amounts to political campaigns more so than an average company such as your Mom and Pop store down the street.