Elephant in the Room

Hey Shawn,
Being a teacher with summer vacation gives me time to read blogs! I was triggered by seeing your sensible post about the F-22, but not seeing anything about why the government would have started something so foolish in the first place. You noted that the government may or may not be acting in the interest of citizens. But then ask whose interest it is acting in.

I almost mentioned this a while ago when you made the Oligarchy post and talked about the elephant in the room and that you've studied some Latin American history. I don't think those businesses approach US citizens with any more morality than they approach the people of Latin America. The elephant in the room to me seems to be corporations.

Health insurance, banks, oil producers and refiners--these are not run by the government. Private corporations are in charge of all of those industries and have far more responsibility than the US government for crises within them (50 million people unable to see a doctor, the economic meltdown, an oil market divorced from supply and demand). I am not omitting the government, but I think the logic needs to go one step further. The failings within the government are that it serves those corporations more readily than it serves the interests of almost everyone else.

Top lobbying industries according to
1 Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $2,558,205,8822
Health $2,298,865,0533 Misc Business $2,257,719,5394
Communications/Electronics $2,092,700,7595
Energy & Natural Resources $1,670,116,4516
Transportation $1,358,911,1637 Other $1,252,273,8198
Ideological/Single-Issue $848,747,4269
Agribusiness $819,757,77110
Defense $668,009,65311
Labor $265,459,71412
Construction $264,698,10113
Lawyers & Lobbyists $188,142,079
Note: These amounts do not include campaign contributions.
Look at how much the first two categories account for. Nearly 5 billion dollars. Have you heard about any problems in those industries lately?

I see massive problems with our government. However, I think it is wise to ask why it operates as it does. How are decisions made? I think the above list gives a answer to that question ... the people in the government have billions of dollars telling them to do what corporations want. What do corporations want? To make money--that is their legally-bound obligation. Spending billions of dollars must come with a payoff for them. If it didn't, they would be breaking the law for wasting shareholder money. Unfortunately that influence makes a problem for everyone else. Corporations have no morals because they aren't people--at least not at the level of large international companies. Corporations are legally bound to act in the interest of profit. There is no such binding to morality. Massively rich and powerful actors with no morals seem like an obvious source of problems.

Although government is part of the problem because of this influence, I still see it as the only viable solution. The government should serve as the agent of the people to force moral sense and bigger goals than making money onto corporations. I am not saying get rid of business. I am not saying get rid of government. I am saying that the two of them in a back scratching-fest (I'm tempted to put it more obscenely) is what does us in. I think the solution is in severing that relationship.



as a side note:"What would it look like if the federal government lived within its means? What would you see on the news? If a president or some members of congress took a stand on staying within budget, what do you think would be said of them?"A Rutger's professor said, "By the end of the Clinton presidency, the numbers were uniformly impressive. Besides the record-high surpluses and the record-low poverty rates, the economy could boast the longest economic expansion in history; the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s; and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged." Many others including a great many newsmen said, "He lied about cheating on his wife."
I have plenty of problems with Bill Clinton, but there is your balanced budget of fairly recent history.



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