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The Effects of Corporate Lobbying, Pt. 1

Corporate lobbying

By Josh Sager

 

In a post-Citizen’s United v. FEC political landscape, lobbying has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The floodgates were opened by the Supreme Court -- which decided that money was speech, thus making political donations constitutionally protected -- and we are now seeing more money in politics than at any other time in recent history. With the gigantic amounts of money being spent by corporations on lobbying, those who study politics are faced with answering three questions, the answers of which are vital for understanding the new political landscape:

  1. What are the policy results of lobbying?
  2. How do the results of lobbying affect the rest of society?
  3. Should citizens work towards getting money out of politics?

Only by understanding the results of lobbying, both on politicians as well as on the rest of society, can we understand why many Americans have begun pushing to separate money from politics. This is an uphill fight, against an adversary with virtually unlimited resources, and will likely take years to complete, if it is ever achieved.

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Why Government Should Not be Run Like a Business, Pt. 2


Police_brutality

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on why government should not be run like a business. Find Part 1 of the series here.


By Josh Sager


Police and Prisons

The institutions intended to work to preserve social order, such as the police and prisons, are areas where the profit motive becomes very dangerous to society. When police forces and our legal system become profit-oriented, justice takes a backseat to money. A profit-driven police force will hand out excessive fines and unnecessary charges in order to increase its own bottom line. We have already see this problem in local police departments that are funded by fines; when the police run low on funds, the number of fines as well as the harshness of the fines increases as the police attempt to make up for lost funding. While this is only a minor example, it demonstrates just how dangerous adding the profit motive to the justice systems can become.

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Why Government Should Not be Run Like a Business, Pt. 1

America has too many issues

By Josh Sager

 

In the past few decades, many politicians have propagated the idea of “running government like a business” in order to cut spending and reduce debt. This concept is fundamentally false due to the fact that governments and corporations have diametrically opposed goals and operate in entirely different manners.

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The Problem with Privatized Prisons in the USA

Prison cell

By Josh Sager 

 

The Florida state legislature is currently debating whether to pass a bill intended to drastically expand the privatization of prisons in the state. Under Senate Bill 2038, 30 prisons run by the state would be contracted out to private corporations.

Privatized prisons operate similarly to hotels, as the state contracts them to house and care for prisoners, wherein they are paid per prisoner. Unlike government-controlled public prisons, private prisons are wholly run by large corporations, driven – as all corporations are – by the profit motive.

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We Are So Far Down the Path of Corruption That We Fail To See It As Anything But Normal

We oppose the criminally wealthy

By Josh Sager

 

Politics today have become so extreme and bought by corporate interests that we should be near-universally protesting the decay of our political system. Unfortunately, corrupt practices in our government have become so common and widespread as to be the new political norm, thus people fail to see just how severe the problem is.

Politicians in both major parties, and on all levels of government, have become so indebted to special interests that the will of the people is no longer the deciding factor on how the government is run. The corruption of our politics is so deep that there is no way to turn, only a choice of the “lesser evil.” Because everybody in politics is bought by somebody, the general public has assumed that this corruption is “politics as usual,” and has not recognized just how bad things have gotten. 

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What is ALEC?

Business_money

By Josh Sager

 

The American Legislative Exchange Council, otherwise known as ALEC, is a politically involved non-profit group funded by some of the largest corporations in our country. ALEC's diverse corporate donor list includes large petrochemical companies, such as Koch Industries, and pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer. The purpose of ALEC is to give the donor corporations direct input into the lawmaking process, through drafting and suggesting laws to be passed by lawmakers. Recent legislative efforts to repeal labor and environmental regulations as well as privatization of public goods have been traced back to ALEC for their origin.

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Noam Chomsky Endorses Wolf PAC

Noam Chomsky

I went to MIT in Cambridge on Friday to visit Noam Chomsky and get his thoughts on Wolf PAC.  Turns out one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time had already heard of us and is highly supportive of what we are doing.  He also mentioned that one of the most important things we should be doing right now is educating people about how serious the problem of corporate money in our election process is and how much it distorts what Democracy is supposed to be.  It was the second time I'd met Noam and he is really just a nice, thoughtful, soft-spoken guy who has more books on his desk than some libraries carry.  This 30 second clip is going to be part of a Wolf PAC promo video and I want YOU to be a part of it as well.  I want to get a very wide assortment of people saying, "I am a fireman, teacher, musician, business owner, (fill in the blank) and I support Wolf PAC and their plan to get corporate money out of our election process."  I will put these short clips all together once I receive enough of them from around the country.  Email me at mike@wolf-pac.com if you want to be part of it.  

Click here to see Noam Chomsky endorsing Wolf PAC

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Why we Need to Push for a Convention

There is broad agreement among both progressives and conservatives that a constitutional amendment will be required to overturn Citizens United. At this moment, Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and a handful of other billionaires have already bought enough members of Congress to render any resolutions, which simply call for Congress to amend the Constitution, ineffectual. Congress will never amend the Constitution on its own just because we ask nicely.

Fortunately, the Constitution provides an alternate path for amending it, which is to have two-thirds of the states call for an Article V Convention. While attempts to use this method have never resulted in an actual convention, calls for a convention to propose an amendment have played a vital role in many successful campaigns to amend the Constitution.

The 17th Amendment, requiring the direct election of Senators, is the perfect example of how a nationwide pro-democracy movement like ours can successfully leverage the imminent threat of an Article V Convention. In 1893, Nebraska was the first state to have its legislature call for a convention for the direct election of Senators. By the turn of the century, an additional nine states had followed suit and in 1913 the movement had come within one state of reaching the two-thirds threshold that would force a convention. When it became clear to Congress that the 17th Amendment was going to happen one way or another, members decided to preempt a convention by passing it themselves.

Having the states call for a convention to add the 28th Amendment to the Constitution is the only way to present Congress with a consequence to its continued inaction. When we win it will be through strength, not through weakness.

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Goldman Sachs Gives More to Democrats in Congress Than You Think

By Ryan Shaw, USC student

Waiting for Democrats in Congress to enact campaign finance reform is like waiting for Tupac to come back from the dead.  The hologram makes us feel good, but at the end of the day, it isn’t real.  Tupac isn’t coming back, and Democrats in Congress aren’t going to enact campaign finance—at least not without a tremendous amount of public pressure.  This is because they benefit just as much as Republicans do from corporate money.  They might even benefit more from corporate money than Republicans.

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Three California Assemblymen Get Serious About Amending the Constitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Three California Assemblymen Get Serious About Amending the Constitution


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (April 26, 2012) --
On the heels of successfully passing a resolution calling on Congress to amend the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision, three California Assemblymen are championing a resolution that goes one step further.

Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Sonoma County), Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) have filed Assembly Joint Resolution 32. If passed, this resolution -- the first of its kind -- will start the process of the States calling for a constitutional convention, which would be limited to amending the Constitution to limit corporate personhood and declare that money does not constitute speech and can be democratically limited.

“I figured rather than just condemning the decision with a symbolic resolution, why not start the process to actually amend the Constitution?” said Assemblyman Gatto. “Voters are fed up with the notion that money is speech and that big money can drown out the speech of average citizens.”

There is broad agreement among both progressives and conservatives that a constitutional amendment will be required to overturn Citizens United. Unfortunately, a handful of billionaires, industry groups, and well-funded special interest groups have already bought enough members of Congress to render any resolutions, which simply call for Congress to amend the Constitution, ineffectual. Congress will never amend the Constitution on its own just because we ask nicely. Having the States call for a convention to add the 28th Amendment to the Constitution is therefore the only way to present Congress with a consequence to its continued inaction.

This landmark resolution is scheduled for a public hearing on May 1st before the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee. Please email and call the members of the Committee on Monday, April 30th to make sure they know you support Assembly Joint Resolution 32 and how important it is to the future of our democracy. We are also asking supporters to attend the public hearing and show their support on Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the State Capitol, Room 4202 .

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