It Ain't Fair

Corporate America is shutting average Americans' voices out, while they help themselves to taxpayer dollars. The economic playing field is tilted against the middle class — and we have the power to change that.

lobbying political philosophy politics

The Tug of War

Tug-Of-War | Make Room For The Stuttering

Remember playing tug of war when you were a kid?  Imagine playing the same game as an adult. The Federal Government is the rope. We citizens pick 100 people on our side of the rope: men and women, Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor. Some are real athletes but most are just average citizens. On the other side is big business, special interest groups, and the 1%. What they’ve done is to hire 100 professional tug of war athletes for their side. These pros are in good shape. They have cleats on their shoes, gloves on their hands, and they’ve trained for this game. 

Who’s Going to Win?

Every day in our country there’s a tug of war for influence over our President and Congress. Every year more issues get passed that tilt the political and economic playing field, maybe not overtly against the average citizen so much, but allusively for a select group that accrues most of the benefits.

Special Interest groups and big companies spent $3.22 billion in 2015 lobbying our elected officials, and have spent at least $ 3 billion each year since 2008. That money is spent to influence laws, rules, and policies that benefit themselves. Most of that money is not tax deductible for the companies. Therefore, they find it to be a good investment, since businesses don’t spend money that doesn’t yield a reasonable return.  

Is it legal to lobby? Absolutely. Every citizen and every group should be able to lobby their representative. Here’s the issue: I donate $10 to my group for a cause I believe in, but the big groups put in $1 million and have 50 lobbyists in Washington or in the state house where you live. Who do you think gets listened to? $3 billion a year is pretty loud. In fact, business and special interest groups out spend social interest groups and unions by a 34-to 1 margin.

So, who comprises “big business,” “special interest groups,” and the “1%?” They are trade groups like Big Pharma, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Association, Business Roundtable, plus companies like Facebook, Bayer-Monsanto, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and extremely wealthy individuals. Here are some amounts spent on lobbying by different companies and groups in 2018:

COMPANY/ORGANIZATIONAMOUNT SPENT ON LOBBYING
Open Society$31,520,000
Pharma$27,989,250
American Medical Association$20,417,000
Boeing$15,120,000
Bayer-Monsanto$13,430,000
Lockheed Martin$13,205,502
Facebook$12,620,000

Often Companies band together into industry groups to advocate for issues that affect them all. Here are some groups and amounts they spent on lobbying in 2017:

INDUSTRY GROUPAMOUNT SPENT ON LOBBYING
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products$208,582,489
Insurance Industry$117,673,483
Electronics Mfg. and Equip.           $106,378,003
Oil and Gas                                              $93,438,348
Electric Utilities                                          $84,216083
Business Associations                                 $83,382,629
Hospitals and Nursing Homes                    $73,644,659
Securities and Investment                        $69,098470  

I can think of only two ways to affect the voting preferences of our elected officials. As a group, we would be citizens putting together $3 billion a year to advocate for what we want. That $3 billion is the average of what business and special interest groups spend each year on lobbying our representatives. Good luck with that, and by the way, here’s my $25 donation.

The second is, what do we all have that the politicians want more than money? Our Votes! That’s what the money’s for anyway! Let’s get together and pool our votes, like the founders imagined, and push for issues we want to be implemented. That “we” have decided on as a group.

There are 435 voting districts in America, one for each member of the House of Representatives. Each district has approximately 711,000 voters; if we could get 10,000 voters in each district, which would be just 1.4% of the voting population, we’d have 4,350,000 nationwide. Now, if we could get 20,000 voters in each district, only 2.4% of the voting population, that would mean we’d need 8,700,000 voters in total; the NRA has approximately five million members and look at the power they have. 

I believe that if a senator or representative got 10,000 letters, phone calls, or e-mails, it would get their attention. California has the most districts at 53, so if we got 10,000 voters in each district, those two senators could get 530,000 letters, phone calls, and e-mails. Depending on the number of districts in each senator’s state, they could get anywhere between 10,000 and 530,000 responses. Alabama has seven voting districts, Florida has 27, Michigan has 14, New York has 27, and Texas has 36. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North and South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming all have just one voting district

Remember, we would advocate for issues that would be fair for most citizens and issues that would level the economic playing field for most of us. They wouldn’t be Republican or Democrat issues, or conservative or liberal issues; they’d be issues that would make most people happy without trampling over human rights. 

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