The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 February 2004

Permanent overclass

A little reminder from Bruce:

This election cycle we will hear Democrats attacking corporate lobbyists. What's wrong with the country is that these corporate lobbyists have climbed into bed with Bush and are sucking the treasury dry and robbing ordinary people of their livelihoods. This is what they'll say, and they'll be right. But we should not be so presumptuous to assume that once The D's regain the mantle of power they will kick the lobbyists out to the curb with righteous indignation. I can make a pretty clear prediction that even if a Democrat wins, we will not see the general nature of Washington change. No matter how nice it sounds when Kerry uses his line about "don't let the door hit you on the way out!" we should not expect to see televised images of lobbyists dressed in their suits standing on street corners holding "Will pimp for government money" signs. Not gonna happen.

Or, in Pete Townshend's phrase, "Meet the new boss — same as the old boss."

The last clause of the First Amendment keeps Congress from infringing upon the right of the people "to petition the government for a redress of grievances," and inasmuch as corporate structures are considered the functional equivalent of persons (see Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific, 1886), you're pretty much always going to have corporations with grievances (such as, say, insufficient profits) which they would like Congress to redress.

Of course, your non-profit organizations tend to be just as corporate, and therefore just as legally corporeal; the Sierra Club — theoretically, at least — has the same Constitutionally-mandated access to Congress as does ExxonMobil.

Lobbyists, like the poor, are always with us; they just wear more expensive suits.

Posted at 1:47 PM to Political Science Fiction


As I posted in his comments, we could debate all day the proper role of government in regulating things, but as long as the government is going to regulate there will be interests to protect.

Posted by: Chris at 2:11 PM on 5 February 2004

Bruce is right in description, but Chris is right in prescription.

If we really want to "get the money out of politics," we need to get the government out of where it doesn't belong.

Posted by: McGehee at 4:07 PM on 5 February 2004

my comments on this got too long and I'm taking it over to a full post on my site.

Posted by: bruce at 7:13 PM on 5 February 2004