Friday, April 2, 2010

Lobbying -- its a crime.

Lobbying – it's a crime.

A few days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanied by the Secretary of Defense, Gates, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, Napolitano, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and similarly highly placed administration officials swooped down into Mexico City to talk about the war against the Mexican drug cartel. In recent times, these drug cartels have been said to have killed 18,000 people. But no high-placed US officials took those deaths sufficiently seriously for a hurriedly arranged, high level delegation to visit the Mexican capital. What was different this time was that the drug dealers killed three people connected with the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez.

A report in the Dallas newspaper stated: “One of the country's [i.e. Mexico's] foremost experts on drug violence and judicial reform said his studies show that cartels now have near total control over 980 communities [ in Mexico], comparing those 'pockets' of lawlessness to 'failed states like Somalia. Inside pockets of these territories, local police corruption and social control [by drug traffickers] make it impossible for the government to have any control in situations marred by the current violence,' said Edgardo Buscaglia of the Metropolitan Autonomous Technical Institute, or ITAM.”

Many people believe that the success of drug dealers in Mexico, as well as, of course, in the United States, depends, in part, on their support by law enforcement agencies who are on the take. Not only do the drug dealers kill many people but they corrupt the government and the judicial system. Not only the weapons but also the money of the drug cartels are genuine threats to the functioning of the Mexican and the US government.
Put that next to data collected about lobbying in Washington DC by the Center for Public Integrity (www.publicintegrity.org). According to CBS news: In the run-up to passage of the new health care reform bill, “Makers of pharmaceuticals and health products spent $267 million lobbying, the most ever recorded by a single industry in a year. Business associations spent the second highest total, $183 million. Among individual groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was easily the biggest spender at $145 million. Exxon Mobil Corp. was a distant second at $27 million.”

How is this expenditure by large associations of businesses, labor unions, and universities so very different from the money spread around as bribes by the drug cartels?

You will say: the difference is obvious-- the drug cartels break the law. And that is, of course, perfectly true. But then consider this, lobbyists and their employers in industry and elsewhere, give bribes to the people who make the laws.

If Mexico's government has a tenuous hold on power, what about ours? How close have we come to government of, by, and for thosed private interest groups who can afford to hire lobbyists?