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Excessive Lobbying: Why do corporations use lobbying to negatively influence the government?

My Introductionary Video

Why Did I Choose This Topic

        When the catalyst project was first presented to us and we were told to pick a topic, I instantly thought about doing something related to the government. My interest in politics and governmental workings had been intrigued by a Netflix show called The Patriot Act, a political satire that looks at current-day issues. Then, when we were presented with this project a day later, I was already thinking about what scope of governmental issues I would cover. In the end, I ended up with lobbying.

If you would like to read more on why I chose this topic, please refer to my Personal Interest Essay

A Patriot Act Poster image, just in case you were curious.

The Origins of a Corruption Infested America

         Throughout the history of America, corruption has been a prevalent issue, and can be dated all the way back to colonial times. America started out as a simple colony, which meant that many people did their best to curry favor with joint-stock companies and the crown, who ran it all. Of those who did manage to get into a position of power, many of them used said position to enrich themselves. These royal governors, corporate placemen, and others believed that using their position to further their self-interests was but a privilege of holding that office (Pickens). As I stated in my historical background essay; these men in power had access to resources through their various state positions, and as such, they were able to pick up a few privileges along the way (Shlapentokh). As a result, corruption began to fester with those that had the resources to do so. From there, this phenomenon of corruption occurring in those with resources spread to society as a whole. Eventually, corruption was a “normal element in practically all societies, past and present, from totalitarian societies, where it plays a limited role, to societies with weak states in which corruption is a central form of social interaction and exchange” (Shlapentokh). Since the spread of corruption has now encompassed society, children grow, mature, and those that end up in some form of office, end up more susceptible to the corruption that haunted America since before its conception.

If you wish to read more on this topic, please refer to my Historical Background Essay.

A quick image showing the wealthy paying people off to do as they wished, “The taxpayer be damned”

Who Is Working to Fix This Issue?

          Of the many people working to combat corporations’ abuse of lobbying, the most prominent name would be Elizabeth Warren. Warren, when she was in the running for Democratic Presidential nominee, had a proposal in regards to excessive lobbying. Namely, a tax, Warren wanted to propose a lobbying tax so that big businesses would be wary of shelling out more money for their lobbying fund. Warren’s proposal would have resulted in corporations spending less on lobbying which would then lead to fewer successes in persuading the legislators or politicians they were lobbying. If this proposal were to go through, corporations would have their attempts stifled to some degree, which would mean less sway in the government. Along with a tax, Warren proposed closing the door between lobbyists and government by not allowing ex-lobbyists to lead government agencies. As a result of this proposition, lobbyists working for corporations would not be able to use contacts that were once lobbyists that have transitioned to a governmental position. This proposal would have lessened the clout lobbyists hold in government. Finally, there was a proposal that would have those paid to influence the government register as a lobbyist and “impose strict disclosure requirements so that lobbyists have to publicly report which agency rules they are seeking to influence and what information they provide to those agencies” (Warren). This would end up with lobbyists being more transparent about what exactly they want to change, and what they give to those governmental agencies to get their way. Unfortunately–or fortunately depending on your political allegiances)–Warren has now dropped out of the race, which means that her proposals have now been set back even further.

If you wish to read more on this please refer to my Current Problems and Solutions Essay.

An infographic detailing how if a lobby tax was implemented, corporations would have to spend more, which would curtail their lobbying efforts to some degree.

Answering The Big Question, and Recognizing Today’s Problem

    Corporations use lobbying to persuade politicians and legislators to push for proposals that benefit the companies, or to convince politicians and legislators to ignore a bill that would hurt them. After figuring out this, it is not that hard to figure out why. The “why?” and today’s issue is quite simple and the same thing, corporations use lobbying to push forward their agenda because executives “are paid to maximize profits, not to behave ethically. Evidence suggests that they behave as corruptly as they can, within whatever constraints are imposed by law and reputation” (Porter). So, executives fund lobbying, and in the long term, their just looking to make a profit. That is both the answer to the big question and today’s problem, executives do whatever they can to make a profit. Once that has been identified, it just takes a little more research to come up with viable solutions. 

Micro and Macro Solutions

      After all of my research and writing, I have come up with both a micro and macro solution for this issue. The micro-solution is as simple as talking to somebody, because that is all you need to do. If you speak to those around you about this issue, then you are letting people know about what is occurring in their government, which then leads to more people combatting this issue. So by just speaking to a relative or friend, you help the cause by letting more people know what is happening. On a societal scale though, the solution would have to be Senator Warren’s proposals. Those plans, if they ever get through, would heavily impact the lobbying attempts of big corporations, as they would have to more transparent, spend more, and the lobbyists they hire would not have ears in the government. So, the micro solution can lead to the macro solution, because you raise awareness about the issue, and then there is a possible gain in support for the proposals that Warren has presented. So please, talk to somebody you know is willing to listen. Let them know what is happening, and ask them, “What should we do to fix this?”

If you wish to read more on this, please refer to the later stage of my Current Problems and Solutions Essay.

Works Cited

If you could, please think back on what you have just read through and answer this: What do you think people should be doing to combat the negative influence of lobbying on the American government? 

 

Made by Subodh Poudyel, Head Royce School, Class of 2022

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COMMENTS: 1
  1. April 27, 2020 by Carl Thiermann

    Subodh—I have always been interested in your topic and I was intrigued by Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy—but frankly, I did not know much about her efforts to reform lobbying! Now, after reading your research, I know a lot more and can appreciate anew her courageous stance in confronting undue influences in government. She may no longer be running for president but her influence is not over. Your graph showing the spending of different industries for lobbying purposes speaks volumes. Reform is badly needed and we need politicians to embrace the tax proposal. On another note, I enjoyed your introduction which was relaxed and genuine and helped me feel that we would be exploring a big topic together—even if we couldn’t fully grasp all the complexities at once.

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