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UScitizen's avatar

Does our republic form of government allow a special ($ cash rich $) segment of our society to "buy" the government that they want?

Asked by UScitizen (4273points) April 2nd, 2010

Is it ethical that our U.S. Congress is beholden to the lobbyists that provide the money to them? Please, no name calling. Just discuss the ethics of these political issues.

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6 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

It sucks hardcore, but I don’t think direct democracy would be any better.

I’d rather be oppressed by lobbyist interests than by 51% of the nutters out there.

davidbetterman's avatar

It not only doesn’t allow it, but accepting bribes is illegal.
However, how are you going to prevent it?

I just googled this, and apparently I was wrong. It is not illegal to bribe them, nor is it illegal for them to accept bribes!

“The House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct ruled Friday (Friday, April 02, 2010) that bribing a member of Congress is legal as long as that member can come up with another excuse for earmarking money for a campaign contributor.”

“The panel cleared seven lawmakers who added pork barrel earmarks to bills to spend hundred of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds on behalf of companies that poured huge campaign donations into their political warchests.

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/node/26133

laureth's avatar

The Republic form of government isn’t what allows that – what allows it in this case is the First Amendment (free speech, and right to petition for redress of grievances). Lobbyists come from businesses, special interests, citizens’ groups, etc., petitioning on behalf of citizens and interests. Some of it is terribly over-the-top, but it’s collateral damage from our much-needed right. Throw out the First Amendment rights to avoid lobbying, and you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

On the other hand, since I know that the Asker leans right, what I will submit for consideration here is the recent SCOTUS decision removing limits of corporate funding of candidates’ campaigns. By definition, this is allowing large corporations (a special ”$ cash rich $” segment of our society) to buy the government that they want. Since large corporations are “people” only in legal terms, this is an even more egregious abuse of the First Amendment’s guarantee of Free Speech – yet it was a right-leaning court’s decision, and is likely to lead toward more candidates from the Right gettting elected, since Big Business generally supports the Right (and the Right supports Big Business in return). It’s possible to muzzle Business, though, without also taking down ordinary citizens’ right to petition the government.

(Even in a direct democracy – which is impossible on a Federal level in a society this big and complex – those with deep pockets could buy votes. They would just have to spread it out to more people, in an Astroturfing kind of way.)

Ron_C's avatar

I can’t believe that you haven’t noticed that before! The republic has always been open to the highest bidders. Look at the concessions the railroads received when they were being built. Look at the two Bush elections and tell me they weren’t bought and paid for.

Obama was a mistake for the moneyed interests but I am sure that he will be completely subverted before this term is over. Actually, it is amazing that he has been allowed to do as much as he had. Remember, they killed Kennedy when he went too far.

Factotum's avatar

Two things. First, in the words of Willie Brown, former Mayor of San Francisco: ‘If you don’t know how to take the money and fuck ‘em you don’t belong in politics’.

Second, the root of the problem is that government is allowed to amass wealth and power in non- and quasi-Constitutional ways that create a sort of moral hazard for businesses and corporations (and other group that bands together including unions and community activists) who wish to shake the money tree.

josie's avatar

All forms of government-that’s ALL forms of government-demand tribute of some sort from their subjects, and will allow their subjects to pay money in addition to that tribute in exchange for favors. This is the ethical framework of any government. So the only thing that anybody can hope for is a way to force it to be done in the open so that at least the subjects can point fingers and make the ruling class a little uncomfortable while they do it.

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