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Post Number: 1550
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|Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 5:37 pm: ||
What They Won't Tell You Corruption Is Really All About
by David Sirota
. . . Beyond the brazen vote-buying/bribery that our money-drenched political process periodically is afflicted with is the far more systematic way America's entire political debate is artificially limited to ensure an outcome favorable to Big Money interests.
No matter where you look in politics you can see this phenomenon, right up in your face. We can see it in the two parties' competing lobbying/ethics "reform" packages - both of which do not attack the real problem of elections being financed by corporate cash. That's by design - because to attack the real problem with public financing of elections would be to actually give the public - and not Corporate America - control over the political process.
We see the same thing on many major economic issues like bankruptcy, "free" trade, energy policy, health care and more. These are the bread-and-butter economic issues where the public consistently tells pollsters it wants radically different policies than comes from their government. Yet, politicians and the media dishonestly portray only a narrow set of policies in these areas as "mainstream," "centrist," or "politically possible" making sure the overall debate and realm of possible outcomes is narrowed to the point where votes don't really have to be bought, because whatever final result is already guaranteed to further enrich the powers that be.
This debate narrowing is really what lobbyists are masters of. They provide the talking points, justifications, background research and propaganda to both sides of a debate to make sure that politically taboo subjects (aka. the concerns of ordinary Americans) aren't really ever seriously considered in a debate over an issue. Lawmakers are happy to regurgitate the nonsense because they know that when they do, they will be rewarded like little puppies with a treat - namely, a campaign contribution.
But where does the lobbyists' information ammunition actually come from? Where do they actually get that propaganda to give to the lawmaker to make sure the debate is narrowed? A story in Businessweek today provides a glimpse of the answer. Many "pundits who present themselves as independent voices sometimes turn out to be quietly financed by powerful interests," the magazine reports. "Money flows from an industry or a lobbyist rather than a branch of government. The tradecraft for fixing media opinions varies and sometimes involves public relations firms, Washington front groups, or other intermediaries."
In other words, the opinion makers - the pundits/commentators who play one of the key role in creating the boundaries of the political debate - are often bought off. Many of these people, not surprisingly, come out of the bigger world of corporate-funded think tanks that dominate Washington, D.C. These are the propaganda machines who the media and politicians loyally rely on for background research and overall debate framing, rarely - if ever - thinking about or reporting on who actually is funding the institutions in the first place.