April 14, 2009

A Quick Discussion on Lobbyists.

Lobbyist. It's a political dirty word. President Obama said he would not include any lobbyists in his administration. This comment was later amended to mean that there would be no professional or corporate lobbyists in positions of authority in government where they would oversee areas on which they were paid lobbyists. Confused? I am. Before we get started I want to point out that I voted for Obama. I want to see him succeed. But that doesn't mean I won't be critical where I see reason to be critical. This is one of those areas and it is one where I admit that I need to do more research. But it is this very thing about "lobbyists" that I want to discuss.

I believe there are two types of lobbyists. There are those that are professional lobbyists who represent large organizations or corporations. Think of Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, or even the NRA or ACLU. Not all of them are explicitly bad. Special Interest Organizations like the NRA or ACLU are supposedly derived of the every people I am trying to reach, us. I may or may not agree with them but that isn't a requirement. The former examples, however, disgust me. These industry Goliaths use their money to out and out buy influence in government to promote their own business. They throw around obscene amounts of cash (I call it bribe money) to influence Senators and Congressmen and "persuade" them to support legislation that makes it easier for those companies to make huge profits.

Where is our voice in this? It isn't there and that is what I object to. When those with wealth can buy influence with the lawmakers then the democratic process by which our voice is heard is undone. Corporate lobbyists by-pass the democratic system and rig it so that their masters can make more money faster and easier. To call this dubious at best would be an understatement. I prefer to think of it as Un-American.

The second kind of lobbyist is the "Part-time Lobbyist." These are the men and women who genuinely care about an issue and take the time to personally go see elected officials to plead their case for their cause. These are not people backed by wealthy organizations. Some of them may draw small salaries or compensation for their time by organizations with some funds, but they are the voice of organizations that we are the life blood of. Again, I don't have to agree with them and often don't, but this is our voice in action. Political Action Commities are born of our need to be heard. When many people speak with a single voice it is easier to be heard than if you are a lone voice.

The truth of the matter is, however, that we are out-gunned in the lobbyist game. Large, wealthy organizations have resources beyond our reach. They have money and time we don't have and this is what we are competing against. It is Un-American that representitives of the people can not be heard over the din of noise generated by those that serve only themselves and not the people.

I have been lead to believe that some of the Obama Administration come from this second group. I don't know if any come from the first, although I suspect they do. With your help I want to compile a list of known lobbyists in the Obama Administraion. I want to identify their positions in government, who they represented, and when they represented them. I want to give credit to those that are the voice of the people and I want to cast shame on those who are not.

For the people!

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