By Jack Jodell, Jan. 26, 2012
Those who justifiably bemoan the fact that Washington is broken and is rife with corruption know very well the root cause for all of this lies in the overabundance of professional lobbyists. These “specialists” influence- peddle on behalf of special interests all throughout our nation’s Capitol.. Many are former members of Congress, who, a scant two years after leaving the House or Senate, are hired at substantial salaries to persuade their old remaining colleagues to vote a particular way on specific bills. Other times, a lobbying firm itself will even draft an entire bill to submit to a specific Congressperson for sponsoring, a vote, and eventual passage into law! Unfortunately, many times this particular bill will have little contained in it for the public good, and will instead benefit primarily its prime corporate originators at public expense!
Today, lobbying firms have grown malignant and have mestastisized alarmingly in recent times. They, more than anything, have been the primary “tumors” which have been directly responsible for obstruction and the complete absence of good, beneficial legislation for the vast majority of the country who are without corporate or special interest affiliation. Today, there are an unbelievable 12,200 + legally paid registered lobbyists in Washington, according to Open Secrets.org. This is down a bit from the record of 14,856 set in 2007, but it is still much higher than it used to be (10,406 in 1998). This being an election year, the number will undoubtedly swell again. These lobbyists spent an ungodly record of $3.51 BILLION in 2010, and that amount, too, may well be eclipsed this year. Some of this money legitimately goes to paying the salaries of those hired to plead a particular group’s case, but far too much goes into legal fees and actual bribes for congresspersons, carefully slipped to them secretly under the table. Is it any wonder that special interests have no trouble getting THEIR bills passed while YOU are left dangling in the wind?
There is nothing wrong with lobbying per se. The right to redress our government is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Lobbying Congress or even federal agencies to inform them of citizen or business wants and needs can be a vital and good thing. But the issuance of outright bribes to specific congresspersons or threats to reward their opponent in the next election with large campaign contributions goes FAR beyond what is desirable, permissible, or even proper!
Founding Father James Madison warned us about the emergence of what he called “factions.” He defined these as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” Surely Madison was right in warning us of the dangers of this tyranny, expressed as it has been through corporate lobbying which has led over time to air and water pollution, as well as disastrous Wall Street market speculation! And surely Madison is spinning in his grave to see how blatantly self-serving modern corporate lobbying has become!
In 2010, there was an effort to try to close down K Street banks in Washington, D.C., an area composed overwhelmingly of major lobbying firms and their clients. This effort, a forerunner to last fall’s massive #OCCUPY WALL STREET protests, caused a Bank of America office to close temporarily. As we have . occupied not only Wall Street, but foreclosed homes, public squares, universities, Congress, courts, and even Federal Reserve banks as well, In December, an attempt was made to occupy that notorious street, but unfortunately the police had ample time to keep protesters well away from their targets. I say that NOW IS THE TIME TO RE#OCCUPY K STREET ONCE MORE, EN MASSE. For we have occupied the recipients of tainted corporate money; now is the time to again occupy the very offices and streets of those distributing these sordid funds! The time has come for us to let them know WE know and object to their repeated blatant attempts to BUY preferential government consideration at taxpayer expense! Let these smug, overly-paid messengers of the 1% see our eyes and hear our voices up close. Disrupt their daily flow and let them know in no uncertain terms how devastating the effects of their slavishly carrying out the wishes of their corporate CEOs are to the 99% below them! If even one or two of them come to the realization of how perverse their role in life has been, to have acted as deliverypersons for a group of greedy exploiters, we will have gained an important victory. If we are as persistent in occupying K Street as we have been with Wall Street, these lobbyists may soon feel like pariahs and some may even stop carrying corporate CEO water.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. This spring, when the weather improves, let us take that step and see literally many THOUSANDS descend on the nation’s Capitol to RE#OCCUPY K STREET!