05 October 2009

Who Runs America

I know it's very cliched for a liberal to rant about big business and pharma running the country. So let's step away from the cliche and look first at the raw numbers. Who are the big spenders when it comes to lobbying - that miraculous political tool that turns money into laws? The data's easy to find on OpenSecrets. Over the past decade:
US Chamber of Commerce$488,458,180
American Medical Assn$208,472,500
General Electric$183,895,000
American Hospital Assn$172,940,431
Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America$154,533,400
AT&T Inc$140,516,229
Northrop Grumman$133,515,253
Edison Electric Institute$128,645,999
Business Roundtable$127,980,000
National Assn of Realtors$127,977,380
Exxon Mobil$124,626,942
Blue Cross/Blue Shield$120,491,385
Verizon Communications$118,344,841
Lockheed Martin$115,567,888
Boeing Co$108,728,310
General Motors$104,774,483
Southern Co$97,670,694
Freddie Mac$96,194,048
Altria Group$88,380,000

Pretty much lays it bare. The statistics are all like this. There are no environmental groups, no parental-constituent education firms, and no civil rights groups up there. Nor will you find them anywhere near the top on any list. You know how many lobbyists Greenpeace has on staff? Two. You know how many Exxon Mobil has? Forty-eight.

This is a problem at the base of our electoral system, along with proportional disenfranchisement, that has only recently come into my view. I don't know if there are any solutions yet, but I damn sure know there are problems.

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