Robert A.G. Monks, a member of our new Legal Advisory Committee, recently published this article The Corporate Voice is Louder than Your Voice in The Huffington Post.

It begins,

Capture is the power to direct the agenda and the allocation of resources of government. In the case of corporate capture, it is corporations directing the agenda. We all know there is too much corporate involvement in Washington. Too many lobbyists and too many subsidies and tax breaks for big corporations, too much money. But what does that mean and how does it impact our country?

It means, first and foremost, that the playing field is not level. If, as we learned from the Citizens United decision, that money is speech then the corporations are a whole lot louder than the rest of us. Deep corporate coffers mean that they can speak more loudly, more often and reach more influential people than most of us ever will. Is it legal? On paper it is. Is it what we want from democratic capitalism? I don’t think so.

Corporate capture of our government means that, effectively, corporations are creating or changing the rules that are meant to govern how they do business. These are the rules that are designed to keep them functioning in the way that best serves shareholders and society. Instead, they work very hard to eliminate or change regulations that safeguard workers, consumers, the environment and our social welfare. For example, let’s take Dodd-Frank, the post-financial crisis law that is supposed to protect us against “Too Big to Fail” and another crash. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, there were ten lobbyists for every congressional committee member writing Dodd-Frank. That’s one heck of a megaphone to broadcast corporate “speech.” But that’s not all:

• In 3rd quarter of 2010, after Dodd-Frank was signed into law, 723 clients hired 2,879 lobbyists, most focused on getting rid of parts of the bill undesirable to business.

• The year Dodd-Frank was passed saw lobbying expenditures rise to an all-time high of $3.5 billion. 2 This is after years of lobbying for fewer regulations and creating “relationships” with lawmakers designed to “educate” them on the benefits of deregulation.

• Between 1999 and 2008, the financial sector spent $2.7 billion in lobbying to “create a close working relationship between bankers and their regulators.” Including “education” programs, retreats and conferences. (See Richard Heinberg, End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, New Society Publishers, 2011.)

Read the full article here. 

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