In India, tens of thousands of corruption-weary citizens have been galvanized by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, whose hunger strike forced the government to adopt a resolution Aug. 27th endorsing legislation that would create an independent anti-corruption agency. A 2005 study showed that more than 45% of its population were forced to pay bribes or get involved in some other kind of influence peddling to get the public sector to do their jobs.
What a contrast to the U.S., where corruption is king, the king's name is Grover Norquist and bribes go by the euphemism "campaign contributions" from the business lobby. What else would be the reason why President Obama is currently being pressured to REDUCE regulations, including those associated with Dodd-Frank financial services reform and the environment? Because Americans need more pollution, along with those vital jobs in the credit rating agencies that gave triple-A ratings to triple-F securities? This conflict of interest is most likely why Phyllis Borzi, the head of the Department of Labor's Employee Benefit Security Administration, was recently browbeaten by the financial disservices industry when she had the gall to propose requiring that the people who advise 401(k) participants act in their customers' best interests.
In a logical world, Republican members of Congress would be nervous about keeping their jobs given that the angry electorate that routed Congress in the last election is even more disappointed in their Tea Party replacements. According to a recent survey conducted by Associated Press-GfK, approval of Congress has dropped to an all-time low of 12%. Only a quarter of respondents consider themselves tea party supporters -- also an all-time low.
Why aren't these politicians worried? Because the mandate of Norquist's so-called K Street project is that they kowtow to the business lobby so that they get jobs as lobbyists when their constituents fire them. As I pointed out in my book, America, Welcome to the Poorhouse, according to Public Citizen, between 1998 and 2004 some 42% of former House members and 50% of former senators who were available to do so became registered lobbyists.
Ironically in 2006 then-Senator Obama gave a press conference announcing the introduction of the Honest Leadership and Government Act, denouncing the fact that "Medicare legislation has become a piggy bank for lobbyists and lawmakers who travel back and forth through the revolving doors in Washington." Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous post, by the time it became law it was watered down to toothlessness -- thanks to lobbyists.
The only way we can defeat the Tea Party traitors is the same way we defeated the Redcoats -- the media needs to rally the public to rout the enemy. Unfortunately, the media has done an abominable job of covering this rout, as Eric Boehlert of Media Matters pointed out in a previous blog.
Even the UK-based weekly, The Economist, which usually does a better job of covering American business and politics than we do, appears to be clueless. A recent article chalked the U.S. partisan divide up to our more-frequent elections, which require politicians to spend more time in their districts wooing the electorate rather than collaborating across the aisle in Capitol Hill. I guess they weren't aware that Norquist collaborator and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey perceive bipartisanship as "another word for date rape," according to the excellent book, The Big Con, The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics by Jonathan Chait.
We can forgive The Economist for missing the point, since they're headquartered across the pond. But that's not the case with the Washington Post, the inside-the-Beltway publication that apparently has become so accustomed to the stench that they can't smell it. When I did a literature search on their articles on the topic throughout the years, I only came up with four, the last one written in 2007. Not surprisingly, the Post editor I was referred to didn't respond to my phone calls seeking a response.
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