Lobbying: where the money is

You know the heavy and certain feeling that life is busy enough without having to police what other people are doing?  That we just have to let some things go because there simply is not enough energy to earn a living and take care of the homefront?

One of the things that haunts the very back of my brain is lobbying.  It really bugs me.  Somebody is earning a hefty living to pass along benefits, shall we say, to someone else who is earning a hefty living in order to ensure the original Somebody’s positions prevail as policy.

All lobbyists are not of one ilk:  the community-minded humane Somebodies lobby, too.  But what I can’t grasp is that I care enough to vote locally and nationally as an informed citizen, but there are other folks who are able to circumvent my votes because they are busy influencing the lawmakers with shiny new toys.

Ah, we say, there’s just too much living to do to be able to keep track of the background of all the complexities of our culture, especially the economic complexities, so it’s good that Somebody is keeping track of that horrific catalog of details that affects my community and  my life.

Yes, but if we don’t know the details, we don’t know the intricacies, then why on earth are we handing our proxy to Somebody?   This reminds me of the Big Mister’s tale of his Union work reps who wanted the members to vote on a contract that they had never seen.

Wait!  Mom told me to read everything before I sign it.  Everything.  Not everyone does that, but Somebody does!  I hold up lines and progress as I stand and read the little tiny letters that spell out my obligations and theirs.  I’ve been known to cross out offensive lines of text.

But this is fighting City Hall at its worst and most despairing:  I have not actually handed my proxy to Somebody, but Somebody is using my proxy, my voice, my vote.

Lobbying is a ginormous moneymaker for a select group of Somebodies.  It is, fundamentally, a wrong addition to governing of the people, by the people, etc.

Lobbyists can be from outta town–the Royal Bank of Scotland, in the news today because of the nearly 1 million Pound bonus given to the chief exec, has spent millions lobbying US lawmakers.

US Lobbying Disclosure Act Database

I did a brief search this morning on the US Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, just to see a tiny slice o’ the pie, a snapshot of who’s doing what to whom, a glimpse at the Somebodies.  They are legion.  This is wrong.  My search terms were:

Client country = USA, $$ reported greater than $50,000, and the single issue of banking.

Results: 7,872 distinct reports of lobbying payments of greater than $50,000 each for the issue of banking.  Lordy, look at some of those names.   And look at those amounts!  The report screen size is mercifully small; I don’t think I could handle a huge chunk of that information all at once.  As it is, all I could do was scroll around, sort by year, then feel ill, and start writing.

Definitions

Lobbying

From the Office of the Clerk, US House of Representatives Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance, (on that page, click on the left menu to go to the definitions):

That’s distressing, that last line.  Am I missing something or is that encouraging obfuscation?

Lobby

Here’s a definition of lobby from the online Merriam-Webster:

Yikes!  Do you get the picture of the milling around outside the legislators’ chamber,  Somebody waiting to pounce before or after a legislator is in that chamber of lawmaking?

Way at the bottom of that definition page is Origin of Lobby.  Ah, I see now.  Lobby derives its roots from the Latin meaning gallery.  As in peanut gallery.  Never a term of endearment.

Good morning, anyway!  Just be aware, and do the best you can.  Lobby your own selves for the dismantling of the lobbying system.  Now go get another cup of coffee and wonder about breakfast as the cat trips you on the way into the kitchen.  Regular, understandable life.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. IsobelandCat
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 09:08:59

    It’s the fact that big business can pay decent money to lobbyists that skews the whole thing. Lobbyists do have a role, but the balance is quite unequal.
    Not sure if this applies your side of the pond, but here to lobby your MP comes from the fact that any member of the British electorate has the right to go to the Palace of Westminster to seek an audience with his or her MP. The place they meet is Central Lobby, hence the expression.

    Reply

    • lahgitana
      Jan 28, 2012 @ 13:23:27

      I believe it’s a rule here, too, but not sure, the right to visit our reps. I’m trying to imagine this happening without a lot of hoo-hah.

      If lobbying $$$ were limited in some way, or there were controls in place, I can see feeling as if my voice were being heard. At least we have this Database.

      Thanks for sharing the Central Lobby concept, Isobel–always appreciate being informed how other folks do things!

      Reply

  2. Kathryn McCullough
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 15:48:13

    I’m about to go lobby Sara for some dinner about now. Hope you’ve had a good day, my friend.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  3. lahgitana
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 15:43:03

    Official Apology Comment to the Man Who Came Home and READ MY BLOG! Oooops! I had to help with dinner! >:-D

    Reply

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