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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I want my lobbyist.

Lobbyist control the legislation created at all levels of government. The 1% (really the .05%) dominates the lobbyist, the 1% has the money to hire them, and I don’t have the money to hire a lobbyist. Hiring a lobbyist would require my entire life time earnings, most of which I have already spent paying my every day bills. Because of this I have no representation in the legislative process. Jack Abramoff, the corrupt lobbyist convicted for multiple cases of bribery, wrote a nonfiction book about lobbying. It is a very self-serving book but has true stories that helped me understand the working and method of lobbying (I do not recommend the book). Special interest groups control the legislative agenda and have displaced any democratic participation by the majority of American’s because we have no lobbyist that represents us. All lobbyists ask for more, no lobbyists ask for less. Lobbyists seek special treatment and more benefits for the special interest that hired them. The losers in this method of governance are those groups that are not present for the argument, which are you and me. The lobbyist write the proposed legislation and our elected officials create the rationale to support the proposed legislation, most often the lobbyist even write the rationale and the elected official just has to deliver it.
We have deep fiscal problems that have been building for 30 to 40 years. Most of these problems are the result of the lobbyist protecting those few that can afford them. General Electric Corporation (GE) can afford the lobbyist to write beneficial legislation and tax laws, GE can afford the lawyers and accountants to exploit this lobbyist generated legislation. GE pays no taxes and is doing just fine, in the last 30 years GE has enjoyed huge economic success. I know this because I own common shares of GE which has been a great long term investment. A major part of its success is due to advantages bestowed by our Government based on lobbying efforts. Changes in the laws moved risk and cost from the company to the employee. One example is the changes in pension laws that allowed GE to buy companies and pillage the pension funds while cancelling health coverage for retirees, which created large windfall profits. Over that same time period I basically broke even. My ownership of equities has not made up for the lost of my wage purchasing power and reduced benefit packages.  While my benefits were dwindling the CEOs benefits were soaring. Made possible by lobbyist generated legislation.
Eventually we will have to deal with our structural fiscal problems. Some of the things that will change are the tax laws, Social Security and Medicare. Those with lobbyist will be protected. The lobbyist will review every word of legislation, monitor every meeting and publish carefully crafted “white papers” supporting their demands. Since this is a zero sum game, some will win and some will lose. General Electric, Goldman Sachs, the Kock brothers, George Soros or Warren Buffett will not lose. The losers will be those without lobbyist, which are you and me. That is the way this game is played and there is no possible outcome from this year’s election that will change the rules of this game.
If enough middle class, wage earning people combined their resources, we could hire our own lobbyist to protect and even further the growth of the middle class. Collectively we could save America for all Americans. With our own lobbyist we could balance the budget, retire the national debt, improve productivity, reduce unemployment and grow the GDP. With a lobbying firm, Twitter and Facebook we could have an American spring. I want my lobbyist.

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