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Letters to the Editor

Lobbyist coercion

December 8, 2011

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To the editor:

The lobbyist Grover Norquist, has coerced all of the Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate to sign a pledge to not raise taxes at any time as long as they remain in office. If these people change their minds and vote for a tax increase, then Norquist and his lobbying group have threatened to fund a competitor to run against the traitors. Most all of the Republican lawmakers in the past 20 years have remained true to their pledge.

This threat has helped create a good share of rancor and to disallow any compromise with Democrats. This lone lobbyist has almost single handedly set up a divisive situation whereby Congress is unable to pass any bipartisan laws. The most recent polls rated these legislative bodies at 8 percent effectiveness. No wonder our country is in turmoil. Our legislative system of lawmaking is irretrievably broken.

An additional problem in Washington is that Congress has allowed our representatives to be so influenced by lobbyists who are allowed to pay the lawmaker for voting in their favor and calling this payoff a “campaign contribution.” We definitely need changes in Washington.

Comments

Abdu Omar 2 years, 9 months ago

You are 100% right. I, too, have been calling for a reform of the lobbyists' making contributions to our government representatives. This, in and of its self, is the stumbling block to all the proposed legislation the Congress has debated. This practice must stop. But how?

As long as Congress is getting paid by these people, there will never be a change. This is the way they go to Washington a representative of the people and come home as a stooge of the lobbyists. How do we stop this? The only way, as I see it, is to have a constitutional convention and rearrange some of the ways we do business in our capitol. But then Congress has to call this convention and because it is their pocketbook we are talking about, they will never do that. We are sunk!

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jayhawxrok 2 years, 9 months ago

DIST, get a grip, 98% of the House GOP and 87% of the Sentate GOP is pretty much all when the few left follow suit, pledge or no pledge. The fact the GOP sold out America to their loyalty to this pissant lobbyist nobody voted for is still valid.

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gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

LO - that percentge of your wealth is going to help maintain entitlements and infrastructure.

These entitlements and infrastructure are the major components of what we mean when we say the U.S. standard of living.

Typically, increases in standards of living have been equated with "progress".

I know, I know. If the government would just get out of the way, a truly free market would eventually produces an even higher standard of living.

Bull crap. A capitalist economic system is comprised of necessarily greedy participants. In such a system, no guarantees can be made for all consumers.

And that's the whole freaking point of government. To provide services to all citizens, including those that a free market would just as soon ignore entirely.

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gudpoynt 2 years, 9 months ago

1) By "services" I also meant the protection of individual rights, national security, the whole lot. So I wasn't excluding the "protection of individual rights".

2) You, on the other hand, definitely ARE excluding all other services. To which I respond: Look around you, Captain Awareness. Obviously the US gov't today is not the same as your ideal Libertopia that never has existed. But whether you approve of it or not, the US gov't is definitely in the business of providing services to it's citizens. Denial of this obviousness must be the delusional behavior to which you refer.

3) There you go again with your logic errors. When I say the gov't provides valuable services, I do not imply that the private sector is incapable of providing the same. Instead, I focus on the fact that the gov't is committed, or at least should be, to providing baseline services to all Americans.

Free market capitalism necessitates that the participants are self interested. It's a requirement for the system to work. The drawback to this is that in a country of +300 million people, there are significant numbers of Americans that do not draw enough interest from private organizations to be served. This could be because they have no money, or because they are shunned for social reasons, or becasue they choose to live way the hell out in BFE where it's not profitable for any for-profit company to provide come to them.

And that is where the American people have decided, through generations of representation, that the gov't should play a role -- to pick up where the free hand of the market routinely drops the ball.

No system conceived by human kind is perfect. That is as true for our republic as it is for the concept of free market capitalism. What I don't understand is how a seemingly intelligent person as yourself, can look at all of history, and conclude that with free market capitalism, human kind has finally developed a perfect system -- (if you think otherwise, I've yet to see any evidence in your posts). Capitalism is great for a lot of things. But it's not great for everything -- namely, it carries the consequence that some people get left out to dry. It is the liberal mindset, that in America, the number of people that would be left behind is unacceptable, and that the gov't, imperfect as it is, is the best tool to we have to rectify the insufficiencies.

4) And I never said that "the government does nothing but provide us with wonderful services". Again, putting words in my mouth only to refute them (I think there's a term for that). No, I understand the degree of corruption to which the gov't is susceptible. If you ever see me colluding with corruption, please call me out on it.

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Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

1 is right on, #2 is an invitation for political corruption.

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grammaddy 2 years, 9 months ago

The quickest road to becoming a millionaire is to become a member of Congress.

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mloburgio 2 years, 9 months ago

Our moonlighting secretary of state Kobach But thanks to the Statement of Substantial Interests, filed in April 2011, we know of 10 others who have paid Kobach recently. Each represents income to Kobach of no less than $2,000.

Kobach received payment from the law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak, and Stewart, which claims to be one of America’s leading labor and employment law firms.

Kobach received payment from the city of Fremont, Neb., where he drafted an anti-illegal immigration ordinance.

Kobach received payment from Snell & Wilmer, a law firm in Arizona.

Kobach received payment from Maricopa County, Ariz., where he charged $300 an hour and a monthly stipend of $1,500 plus expenses, according to National Public Radio. Kobach had helped draft the famous anti-illegal laws of that state.

Kobach received payment by Digital Ally, Inc., which specializes in security cameras.

Kobach received payment from the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund in St. Louis, Mo., an organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly.

Kobach received payment from the 7th District Missouri Republican Assembly.

Kobach received payment from The Federalist Society, a very conservative legal organization.

Kobach received payment from CMP Susquehanna Corp. as a Sunday night radio talk show host for a station in Kansas City.

But the number one benefactor is the Immigration Reform Law Institute, where Kobach serves as counsel. This organization focuses on anti-illegal immigration reform across the United States. And it is a pot of money for Kobach that is presumably quite substantial.

Read more: http://joco913.com/news/our-moonlighting-secretary-of-state/#ixzz1fxJ5mEFs

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 9 months ago

Has Grover replaced the Dwead Piwate Wove as the target of the Daily Five Minutes' Hate by diappointed progressives?

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

They only do what the Daily Kos, Moveon.org, MSNBC and the Puffington Host tell them to do, and dissing Norquist is on the top of their list.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

Interesting - thanks.

He's pretty up front about what he does.

My favorite quote - Republicans who vote for a tax increase are like a rathead in the bottom of a Coke bottle.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

You asked for a source, clearly indicating that you believe he had been misquoted or misinterpreted. But he wasn't, which pretty much means that you disagree with part of his message as well. Care to elaborate about your disagreements.?

"we have to give the government more and more"

I don't believe that at all. I think what they currently is is more or less adequate. My disagreement is where they get it from, and how they spend it once they get it. But you're clearly a supporter of taxing the 99% in order to give to the 1%, so I doubt we'll find many areas of agreement here.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

"you lib socialists crazy"

Care to define your terms?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Increasing taxes on the wealthiest folks won't eliminate the entire budget deficit, but the Bush tax cuts on the top 5% has increased that deficit by over $1 trillion since 2001. Hardly insignificant, and it didn't even produce any jobs (not in this county, anyway.)

Add in a couple of unfunded wars, and looking the other way while the 1% raked in $trillions in the sub-prime scam that eventually collapsed the economy......

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Shelley Bock 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm all for class warfare since the people are getting squashed by the 1%. Get the playing field equalized and don't allow the super rich to become the very, very super rich at the expense of the middle.. As the "middle class" wakes up to the realization that it is getting shafted and starts to protest, the wealthy or their supporters are crying "class warfare". It wasn't the masses that started the "warfare", but they are likely to continue it.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

"the aggregate cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is approximately $1.2 trillion. "

Like nearly all things "defense" related, it takes a lot of selective and creative accounting for that to be truthy-- and once you start looking at the long-term costs (all those soldiers with missing limbs, PTSD, etc.) and the costs really begin to skyrocket.

You know the saying-- a $trillion here and a $trillion there, you're talking about real money. But, of course, for you, anything that involves war spending, corporate welfare or taxing the rich is off the talking table.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

It is a zero sum game.

Each year, a business makes a certain discrete amount of money. If more of that money is paid to those at the top, that leaves less for those at the middle and bottom of that business.

When middle class wages stagnate (as they have) and wages at the top increase by huge amounts (as they have), it's clear that the good fortune of those at the top comes at the expense of those in the middle.

CEO/average worker salary ratios used to be about 30-50/1, today they are about 300-500/1.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

" Does it not occur to you that the business is making money that didn't even exist before,"

You're the one who has an obviously weak understanding of economics.

Money is an abstraction-- nothing more, nothing less. The products/services that businesses (and governments) create is certainly a form of "wealth." But 99.9% of the time, it replaces wealth that has been consumed or otherwise destroyed, whether it's the food you eat that passes out the other end, the car you drive that will eventually end up in the junkyard, or the gas it consumes, whose most lasting effect is it's contribution to global warming.

In other words, nearly all human economic output does nothing more than keep us (as a species) barely clinging to life-- a zero-sum game in which a select few get to skim an inordinately large share off the top for themselves.

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jayhawkinsf 2 years, 9 months ago

That just isn't true. The wealthy of today are far more wealthy than the wealthy of 100 years ago and they were more wealthy than 100 years before that. But the same is true for the middle class and the poor. All classes are much better off than their counterparts were 100 years ago or 200 years ago. A rising tide lifts all boats and our economy, on the whole, has been expanding for centuries.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

For those living in the highly industrialized countries, this is somewhat the case-- but keep in mind that that's only possible because of the extractive economy that primarily benefits about 15% of the human race-- so while the rising tide may be benefitting a small percentage of us, at it's current rate, it might just drown us all, eventually.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

That's just not true, according to a variety of sources, which show middle class wages stagnating, while those at the top increase dramatically.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Money is not the economy. Never has been. Never will be. It's an abstract representation of economy, and that abstraction is easily distorted-- something that Wall Street banksters and their employees in Washington are very good at.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

It may not be a true "zero-sum game," but the great majority of the time, it operates as one.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

If you analyze it further, it is in fact a zero sum game.

The only way that more money gets into the economy is by savings being spent, which means it's not available for saving or spending at other places.

Or by the government putting more money into the economy, which does increase the amount of dollars, but decreases their value through inflation - so there isn't more "wealth" produced.

One possible exception might be foreign buyers injecting money into our economy, but we're a pretty import heavy economy - we're not exporting much.

And, if you broaden that window, the money that comes in here from other countries is then not available in them.

Right wing folks seem to understand this when they point out that money taken in taxes by the government isn't available for the private sector to use in other ways.

There is no magic "wealth creation" - money simply moves around, or doesn't move around, in the economy.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Money isn't true wealth-- the goods and services that working people create are the real wealth, and over time, the amount of that wealth has increased, although so has the human population.

For the most part, for working people, the economy works on a "snapshot" basis. Their share of the overall wealth is determined by what is perceived as available at any given moment, and not by what might be available next year, or five years down the line-- in other words, a zero-sum economy.

On the other hand, on Wall Street, which works almost exclusively on the abstraction of money, great profits are made (and occasionally lost) by speculating on various snapshots of the future. These snapshots are based to a very large extent on fiction-- a fiction that doesn't have to take into account what's available right now (the zero-sum economy.) The net effect is that the working class stiff has to pick up the slack when this wild speculation causes a mismatch between the artificial economy (money) and the real economy.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

The wealth that was created was the lemonade, not the money that you got for it, and it is only "wealth" if it has value to someone.

In a money economy, others demonstrate that they perceive that it has value by giving you money for it.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

"This is painful to explain because any freshman ECON 101 class shows this to be untrue."

What is untrue?

"And it does have value to someone because they pay more for it."

More than what?

"Just because we have money instead of a bartering system doesn't change the fact that value/wealth was in fact created."

Never said otherwise. What I said was that the good or service is the "wealth," not the money.

So, did you have an actual point you wanted to make with this last post?

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

I think part of the trouble here is definitional.

"Wealth" can refer to goods, or to money - it really just means possession of anything that is perceived to have value.

And, zero sum game might not be precisely the right term for what I'm trying to say as well.

But, money is not created if one buys lemons and makes lemonade - it's being transferred from the person that buys it to the person that sells it.

That money is not available for other sellers of other goods then.

Some individual transactions aren't zero sum either - the guy that buys the lemonade and the guy that sells it are both happy - it's a "win win" situation.

But, the money that's spent on the lemonade isn't available to be spent elsewhere, so other businesses don't benefit from it.

If it had been spent at another business instead, then the lemonade seller wouldn't have benefited.

That's "competition", right? One of the cornerstones of capitalism - businesses compete for customers.

Also, the question of "wealth" is ultimately a question of values, which are subjective. So, if I cut down a tree and make a table, is there more "wealth"? It depends on your perspective - I think that the increase in material possessions is counteracted quite a bit by the loss of natural resources, so in the bigger picture I'm not at all sure we're better off for that, especially if you include the destruction of the natural environment.

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

Money is not synonymous with wealth/value - it is one example of them. Even if one agreed that value had been added, that doesn't mean money has been created.

When somebody buys some lemons and makes lemonade, they are taking some things of value - lemons, sugar, water, etc. and adding labor to transform them into lemonade.

Only if one concludes that labor is valueless (which I don't, since it involves time, energy and mental effort), would one conclude that something of value has been created without spending other things that have value.

Otherwise, the obvious conclusion is that one trades certain valuable things in order to obtain other ones, and those judgements vary quite a bit from person to person, over one's life, between cultures, etc.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

"This is like debating a child."

Since you appear to have learned your understanding of economics from a comic book......

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jayhawkinsf 2 years, 9 months ago

"according to a variety of sources, which show middle class wages stagnating". In the short term. I was looking at it in the long term (100 years, 200 years). Many things look one way in the short term and look very different when taking a longer term outlook. The stock market, housing as an investment both come to mind. But if it's true that all classes have gone up over the long term, it shows that the zero sum game that's being defended just can't be true in the long term.

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pace 2 years, 9 months ago

Grover Norquist isn't bragging when he claims he owns the congress and senate votes on taxes. He is stating fact. The various lobbyists own Congress and Senate, they set policy. they cook deals, they write law. too bad.

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Fossick 2 years, 9 months ago

"Most all of the Republican lawmakers in the past 20 years have remained true to their pledge."

Hard to believe the author is complaining about politicians keeping their promises.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

But it's an utterly simplistic and counterproductive promise (unless, of course, they represent the interests of the 1%, and only the 1%.)

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jafs 2 years, 9 months ago

I do think that integrity is a good thing, and we should hold our politicians to it.

But, if you look at the video that bozo supplied, you'll see that there's much more going on here than that.

Please watch it, and then tell me what you think of Norquist and his group.

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pace 2 years, 9 months ago

Usually politicians keep their promises to lobbyists. it is their duty to the citizens they fall down on. Of course I must confess I, unlike you don't worship lobbyists or money lenders. I just think of them as corporation who are out of control

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Armstrong 2 years, 9 months ago

I would love to know specifically how 1 lobbyist could coerce an entire party. Sounds like the blame game again.

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DadT6787 2 years, 9 months ago

Forget about Grover Norquist. Instead, call out the lawmakers who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in violation of Rule 6 of the Code of Ethics for Government Service. Rule 6 admonishes lawmakers to "Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office..." Call on the Ethics Committees to censure all lawmakers who signed this Pledge.

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