Posts Tagged ‘government

13
Nov
08

Corporate Lobbyists Have Their Sticky Hands All Over This Bailout Mess

corporate-lobbying-bombLike bees to honey, the government bailout has triggered an explosion in corporate lobbying on behalf of banks, savings and loan institutions and insurers. Only these bees are very rich and very greedy. According to CQ Politics Nov. 1, K Street reported nearly $830 million in expenditures and revenue for July, August and September of this year – with no end in sight after registering 500 new clients just this October.

Corporate lobbyists are about as reputable as used-car salesman. And for good reason. Imagine, as a politician, your source of information on an industry, company, town or organization is a person paid directly by that entity to encourage legislation if favor of said entity. It is the height of conflict of interest. Would you trust a prostitute if he/she told you they were the best lay on the strip? No! But if you’re a john, you’ll probably do them anyway.

And this is the problem we have with big biz lobbyists. Their information and opinion are skewed, biased and unreliable. The lobbyists who represent the wealthier entities are inevitably more successful, securing de-regulatory measures, earmarks, etc. for their clients. And money continues to power the Washington merry-go-round, as we’re seeing with Paulson’s bailout.

During the lame duck Congressional session in 2000, our public-serving representatives legalized unregulatedmoney-equals-power over-the-counter derivative markets (ahem, gambling). Now, would our legislators come up with this idea on their own, under the assumption that this loosening of the stock market rule book would benefit society as a whole? NO! Slimy little wankers in the form of lobbyists undoubtedly sent oodles of cash to specific designations to earn those Yeas. The lobbyists likely wrote the legislation itself.

The U.S. bailout package, unlike the U.K. bailout, includes unprecedented loans to the banking industry without stipulating the banks in turn must issue loans to help lubricate financial markets. The bailout loans come with no restrictions that the government money cannot be used to pay stockholder dividends, nor for the payment of executive bonuses. It would seem elementary to obligate banks to use the bailout appropriately and in the best interest of the economy. And yet our Treasury Department and Congress have been the Daddy Warbucks to Little Orphan Annie – as you wish, my dear. How does such an asinine lack of oversight, transparency and intelligent governance fall by the wayside during this worldwide torrential economic plunge?

Lobbyists. Under the orders of the corporate pimps. Conducting trades of cash and influence in the backs of the American public. The examples of manipulations, misdeeds, proliferation of misinformation and the results of such actions are endless:

  • Reuters: “The Government Accountability Office said 72 percent of all foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.”
  • AP: “Some of the nation’s biggest banks are in for a windfall — on top of the $700 billion government bailout — thanks to a new tax policy quietly issued by the Treasury Department. The notice gives big tax breaks to companies that acquire struggling banks hit hard by the mortgage crisis. In some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks, according to analyses by private tax experts. The change could cost the Treasury as much as $140 billion by enabling firms that acquire struggling banks to use more losses incurred by those banks to offset their own taxable profits.”
  • Bloomberg: The Federal Reserve refuses to identitify the recipients of $2 trillion in taxpayer loans, despite promising transparency in return for approval of the bailout plan.
  • ABC: Pelosi (and Obama) is calling for more of the $700 bailout to be given to the Big 3 American automakers, who received $25 billion in September, with environmentally friendly strings attached.

Corporations are convincing our federal representation, through Olympic lobbying efforts, to collude in efforts that secretly and overtly reward poor financial judgment, strengthening corporate power and influence and coporate-lobbyist-stickman1proving that our government is no longer beholden to the voters, but to big business.

Obama is taking baby steps to quell the loud voices of corporate lobbyists. Transition team leader John Podesta introduced new lobbying restrictions for the transition process. CNN – “Those who leave the transition team will be barred for a year from lobbying the incoming administration on matters related to their transition jobs, and current lobbyists who join the team are barred for 12 months from working in policy fields related to their lobbying work.”

Hopefully, an Obama presidency and Democrat-led Congress will find time in their busy schedules to legally amputate the greedy fingers of corporations – their lobbyists. I’m not holding my breath.

And while lobbying is protected by the first amendment, the flood of cash through these unethical vessels into D.C. must end. These people make and distribute far too much money, assualting our democracy with each greedy cent. They divert power from the people to self-interested corporations, delivering an economic crisis that could easily define the next age.

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24
Sep
08

Pharmaceutical Company To Disclose Payments To Doctors

I’d put the hallalujahs off for just a minute, though.

According to AP, Eli Lilly and Co. has said they will report payments made to doctors over $500 for services, speeches, etc. How unusual.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Every time you go to the doctor, they have another prescription for you. Words such as “bi-polar disorder,” “anxiety disorder,” “clinical depression,” “attention deficit disorder,” and so many more are in our everyday vernacular. Do you fee sad sometimes and then happy sometimes? Well, that’s not right! Have a pill and this pill and this pill even though we have no idea who their chemical interactions will affect your body!

Do you think any of those diseases exist in developing world? No, they have to deal not with disorders of conveniences, but actual maladies such as starvation and AIDS and tuberculosis. Drugs do not cost nearly as much in those areas of the world because people could never dream of affording them and entire countries’ economies would face collapse. The cost of one pill here in the U.S. could feed the population of Sub-Sarahan Africa.

We’ve raised a population of entitled Americans who expect easy street and look to quick fixes when times get tough. We don’t even need to leave our bedrooms to have anything we need in the world. Is it a coincidence that obesity numbers go up the same time as depression and a infinitesimal amount of other diseases increase? I don’t think so.

Furthermore, the drug companies use people as their guinea pigs by pushing drugs far too quickly through governmental approval – though many times due to pressure by patients. Many times, these drugs prove to cause extreme harm over the long period. You know every time you turn on daytime TV and some ambulance-chaser is talking about Vioxx? There you go.

The drug companies pour a load the money they make with their high-priced drugs into the pockets of doctors who recommend them and write prescriptions and the law makers who decide (de)regulation. Ever heard of Medicare? As Wikipedia says, “According to Marcia Angell, the former head of the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘The United States is the only advanced country that permits the pharmaceutical industry to charge exactly what the market will bear.'”

Drugs that Americans depend on to live and stay healthy will cost them the quality of their life simply because of corporate greed and the idea of “free market” which does not exist in this country. Drug companies will tell you that their profits are focused on providing more products. They don’t reveal the salaries of their executives. It’s sickening, really.

So, now Eli Lilly and Co. says they will disclose doctor payments in expression of good will. AP reports,

Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the health research group at Public Citizen, said the state laws can let patients know when their doctors have a connection to a drug firm, but the state laws are not working very well. The laws have various exemptions and sometimes don’t even disclose the information to the public, he said.

Lurie was skeptical that Eli Lilly’s announcement represented a step forward on the issue of more transparency in health care.

“There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies. This is just one of them. Most won’t follow this guideline at all, and there will be no enforcement,” Lurie said. “This is Ely Lilly’s attempt to forestall the federal legislation by saying we’re in effect complying anyway.”

Needless to say, my skepticism remains high. Why wouldn’t Eli Lilly disclose all payments? How many of the payments they issues are under $500?

High drug prices are simply another example of the myth of the free market and “American capitalism.” This manner of economic laissez-faire hurts the lower economic echelons – which is the majority of Americans. Until we start being honest about the reality of our lack of regulation, American voters will never demand better treatment from the Corporatocracy our country has become. Socialism is not a bad word and does not work in its pure form. But for our citizens to reap the benefits of economic growth, we must pepper our capitalism with a bit of socialism. Pro-capitalism is not patriotic. Being honest is.

30
Jul
08

Evangelical Voters Poison Democracy, Part I

The recent rise and decline of the evangelical influence in our political system is intensely worthy of investigation and analysis. That one minority group can unleash such destruction on a political system designed to withstand tyranny of the masses is at the very least distressing and frightening. I have decided to offer my opinion on the issue, which has unsurprisingly grown to a blog much too long to read in one or even two sittings. Therefore, I am releasing my opinion in a series, beginning today.

For far too long the Religious Right has enjoyed a position of legitimacy on the national political stage. Beginning with Billy Graham, men have used religion not just to build a pedestal for their own control and domination, but also to access the highest offices in our land. The untouchable nature of religion – Christianity, to be exact – has delivered privilege and power to these leaders who were never elected and cared more for the influence they could exert than strengthening the representative democracy that allows our country to flourish in modern times.

The rise of the Religious Right has wreaked a havoc on our precious democracy never seen before in our nation’s history and delivered to us a president that has single-handedly allowed the drastic reduction in our freedoms and liberties. Our government, under Bush, has ceased to function as a healthy sovereignty by the citizenry and slowly begun to morph into an authoritarian regime with puppet masters who care not for the maintenance of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any of the political foundations that define us as Americans.

Christian Church Culture

The Christian religion is patriarchal in nature and does not encourage the question of authority, respect of all its members or appreciation for progress and education. To be sure, there are variations to the pattern, however, the basic mold is one of a dominant, male god who will not hesitate to cruelly punish those refusing to believe in his existence, yet reward the followers who faithfully defy common sense and worship a basic nothingness with no evidence other than a collection of works by men seeking power and prestige in their own time.

Why a god would choose to care which members of his creation believe in him and deem it appropriate to damn those who do not to eternal hellfire is beyond me, but there you have it. The faith the majority of Americans share.

The Christian religion flourished through military domination and the usurpation of local traditions of the cultures into which it expanded; Christmas, Christmas trees, Easter, etc. were not originally Christian. And while political progress has relegated much of Christianity outside judiciary and legislative walls, dangerous relics of Christianity’s theocratic urges still threaten the rational form of law that unites the states.

Perhaps this would not be possible if those raised and essentially brainwashed in these churches were not so easily swayed by their religious leaders. A Christian family well understands that the father is the “head of the household” – the decision-maker. It’s Biblical. The head of the church is the community leader, the most powerful example being the Pope who is both leader of the church and head of his very own city-state and Swiss guards in crazy outfits.

Respect for control and authority is taught early, with assimilation and cooperation rewarded. Those who “backslide” face public humiliation and familial shunning. Children who take up the mantle of Christianity into the world in an effort to grow the religion’s numbers tend to be praised and lavished with approval. The basic human need to belong to a group and desire for popularity with those they find familiar feed the drive Christians to remain loyal to their church despite any private misgivings over the teachings and proclamations by either the Bible or church leaders.

Furthermore, Christians are repeatedly told how their faith is under attack and they need to “take back this nation for Christ.” There’s a Holy War with Satan in our midst and a demon around every corner. It is their Christian duty to spread the gospel and stomp on the Devil with their every movement. In a very psychologically effective manner, these evangelical churches are convincing their brethren to gather and fight. Against what, they really do not know. There is no specific enemy, no real danger. But the beating of war drums in these churches every Sunday, keeps the congregations exited, convinced and – above all – obeying every word and easily brainwashed to cast votes according to instruction.

06
Jun
08

Hall of Shame: S.C. Approves “I Believe” License Plates

I make no bones about my disappointment with the rise in religious fundamentalism in this country and how detrimental such developments are, mostly having to do with failed abortion-only policies, the rise of anti-intellectualism, the accepting of intolerant and unconstitutional bans on gay marriage, and the promotion of power of men like George W. Bush, Pat Robertson, John Hagee and the late Jerry Falwell. Though, the rise in fundamentalism likely portends its downfall as progress is an unstoppable force, a law in South Carolina took effect yesterday that expresses the deep inability for many Americans to reconcile the brainwashing of their childhood with the reason and common sense their adulthoods.

South Carolina now offers “I Believe” license plates at $4 to $6.

i believe license plates

Such a license plate is an example of a governmental endorsement of a religion and a shameful illustration of the domination of unfounded mythology on our society.

Ask yourself whether the South Carolina state legislature would support a license plate expressing support of Islam, Judaism, Atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology or Wicca. Right.

The ACLU and American Jewish Congress are considering action over this huge legal disappointment in South Carolina (which, by the way, failed in Florida in April). Here at politicalmpressions (which is just me), we wholemindedly support their efforts to have this state-sponsored endorsement of Christianity revoked.

Had this happened in Texas, I myself would raise my voice to its greatest heights to help preserve the separation of church and state.

Silver Lining: Marcus Aurelius points out in his comment on Think Progress, “It’s nice to know who the morons are when you’re out driving.”

Here We Go: June 19, Americans United for Separation of Church and Stateasks a judge to stop the state from making the plates and rule that the law allowing them violates the First Amendment.” For more, read here. Aaaahh, I love the smell of progress and common sense.




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