A Nation of Laws: by the Corporations, for the Corporations, of the Corporations

It is often said that the United States is a nation of laws, not of men. This may be so, but the laws themselves are still made by men, and women of course, specific ones in fact, with specific loyalties, prejudices and agendas, the sum of which is equal to the disenfranchisement of the greater portion of the US public in the interest of maintaining the reigning two-party system of government and the corporate oligarchy that the duopoly parties represent. In May, Think Progress reported:
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in a Senate hearing on the EPA budget . . . decried the extraordinary amount of spending by corporate global warming polluters to lobby Congress. Reading from a report on new lobbying disclosures, Whitehouse noted that carbon polluters such as electric utilities and oil and gas companies have spent nearly $80 million on lobbying just in the first quarter of 2009. [Emphasis added.]
It is further worth emphasizing that Whitehouse decried the lobbyists rather than the members of Congress who are bought and paid for with all of those lobbying dollars. Nonetheless, in his criticism of big industry polluters, Whitehouse stated:
there has been a constant battle with polluters who don’t want to pay the costs of their pollution, either preventing or cleaning it up . . . They’d like to just dump it and have it be somebody else’s problem. There’s absolutely nothing new about that. Polluters don’t want to pay. [Emphasis added.]
In all fairness to the polluters, however, we must admit that this is not exactly true. They pay, and they pay handsomely . . . when they're cutting their checks to Democrats and Republicans in the Congress! $80 million in four months is no small sum, even in the age of the trillion dollar bailout. And, of course, they're not the only ones. In a report detailing campaign contributions from finance, insurance and real estate interests to the members of the House Financial Services Committee by the Public Campaign Action Fund, it was found that:
• The average committee member took $885,586 from the financial, insurance, and real estate interests over their career.
• The financial, insurance, and real estate interests already donated $2.25 million to committee members in the first quarter of 2009.
• Twenty-three members of the committee took more than a million dollars in campaign cash from the industries, including 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Forty-three members received at least $500,000.
• The list was topped by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) at $3.62 million and Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) at $3.12 million, both of whom represent districts outside the geographic home of the industry in New York City.
As Senator Dick Durbin recently put it, speaking of the Congress: "Frankly, the banks own the place." This, naturally, is not entirely true either. The banks do not own the Congress, the people do. The banks own the Democrats and Republicans who allow corporate lobbyists to craft legislation in the name of the people, which they then rubber stamp without reading. It is symptomatic of the contemporary duopoly form that a bill requiring bills to be voted upon only after a three day reading period has elapsed has less than ten co-sponsors (HR 554). Perhaps we can slip the so-called "Read the Bills Bill" past them while they're not reading something else.

In their defense, duopolists from both parties are often quick to point out that "everyone is doing it." How many times have you read or heard a Democrat respond to some piece of criticism by stating that Republicans engage in the same behavior? How many times have you read or heard a Republican respond to some piece of criticism by stating that Democrats do it too? Of all the apologia peddled by ideologues of the duopoly parties, this is one of my favorites. For a brief moment the truth is unwittingly allowed to appear within the confines of the duopoly dialogue.

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