The power of corporations in association with the government and the political process has long been an issue pondered by both citizens and the media. The connections between Washington, D.C. and corporations are vast. The average citizen periodically hears about these connections through various media outlets; however, examining the ways in which they influence lawmakers is an eye opening process. An analysis of exactly how corporations infiltrate our lives can be reduced to a handful of effective avenues.
Access to Public Officials
Though citizens can write public officials to better represent their interests, unless these communications are made by an extremely large number of voters, the calls and letters are usually not effective. Through a combination of campaign contributions and other methods, corporations are better able to access public officials than the average citizen. This means that the corporations have a better chance of a public official hearing their case than individual citizens have.
Government has less fact gathering tools in many fields than most would think. The government has to appoint advisory committees to gather both information and advice. Unfortunately, these committees embody the people representing these industries. The information these industries provide is what is used to make laws. The government generally does not ask the advice of private citizens. Essentially, the advice the government gets is stacked in favor of corporations.
Many times, the government will call employees of an industry to actually head one of their agencies or regulatory committees. These people bring the influence of corporations on how decisions are made. The bias of these agencies and committees are usually not that obvious, since most people do not realize that these associations exist. These committees and agencies do not have the public interests at heart when making decisions.
Former Members of the Senate and House Serving as Lobbyists
After retiring from the House or Senate, many of these former officials become lobbyists. They know a great deal about the laws that have been passed for the industries that use their services. They also know inside dealings that occurred while the laws were being made.
Additionally, former Senators and House members maintain privileges to use their former floors. This means that if a law is being voted on, they can enter the House or Senate floor and lobby for their employer to influence the vote. Former Senators and House members are in high demand by corporations as lobbyists. They are usually paid astounding amounts of money to work for corporations to help further laws that are in their favor.
There is an undisputed fact associated with corporations and court action. Corporations nearly always have more money to spend on court action than individuals have. Corporations do not always concentrate their attention on winning a case; they are sometimes interested in delaying a decision. The most prominent reason for causing court delays is that the corporations do not want to pay they person that sued them for the amount the court awarded. For instance, if the court awards someone money because of corporate negligence and subsequent injury to the employee, the employee cannot afford to keep paying an attorney to represent them in court each time a corporation asks for a continuance. Powerful corporate attorneys may keep continuing the case and eventually offer lower settlement to the injured employee. The employee settles, though they are entitled to the entire award. They are sometimes desperate for money because of pending medical bills and the corporations know this.
Another instance of too much corporate power is seen in court cases where a small business has a patent on a product or technology. Corporate attorneys can delay payment to that company by continuing the case and bending the current patent laws in order to escape payment to the small business. The small business may not have the funds to keep defending their interests through repeated continuances, and usually they give up. In this way, the court system inadvertently favors corporate interests. There is not much anyone can do about the fact that corporations can afford more talented attorneys who will relentlessly represent their interests.
Super PACs are a type of political action committee. Super PACs are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money. This money can come from corporations, individuals, associations and unions. This type of fund generally represents corporate interests through specific candidates that corporations believe will vote their way on a number of issues. Corporations are prohibited from donating directly to political candidates, but they can donate it to the Super PAC committee that backs the candidates of their choice.
Corporations can literally bankroll any candidate that they think will vote their way. Candidates are controlled politically because they are funded by these Super PACs. Some say that this process allows democracy to be stolen from the average person.
Examining all the ways corporations have their way in government and politics, there can be no doubt that they have become too powerful. The average person doesn’t stand a chance against corporations. If citizens want change legally and politically, they will have to go out and vote for the candidate that best represents their interests. If enough people vote, they can make a difference. Getting petitions started and collecting a large amount of signatures is one way to challenge the politicians to do the right thing for the people that they represent. Also, a large number of people calling their Senators or House Representatives will make a difference. The people still elect these politicians. If they want re-election, they will listen to those putting pressure on them to vote their way. Corporate backing for politicians is really no match for the vote of the people. Laws can be changed by threatening the coveted jobs of politicians through individual votes. Though it may seem like they represent the corporations, they do not. They are elected to represent the people. It is up to the people to hold them to their promises