Needed in Wash­ing­ton: Adult su­per­vi­sion

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - Ge­orge Reed Jr. An his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive

The main cul­prit in job losses and in­come dis­par­ity in this coun­try is not il­le­gal aliens and glob­al­iza­tion as our pres­i­dent con­tends, it is the mi­crochip.

The dis­place­ment of Amer­i­can work­ers through tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion and the power of Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ists to pre­vent rais­ing the min­i­mum wage have put us in this hole.

Cor­po­ra­tions spend bil­lions an­nu­ally to in­flu­ence leg­is­la­tion. Some of the largest en­ter­prises com­mand 100 lob­by­ists or more and out­spend unions and public in­ter­est groups 34-1. Un­til the 1970s few com­pa­nies had their own lob­by­ists and lob­bied mostly through their trade as­so­ci­a­tions. But the sheer size of cor­po­rate lob­by­ing to­day over­whelms all po­ten­tially coun­ter­vail­ing in­flu­ences.

For­merly the main pur­pose of lob­by­ists was to keep the govern­ment out of busi­ness, a task they per­formed ad­e­quately for many years. But to­day Cor­po­rate Amer­ica is in­creas­ingly seek­ing to part­ner with govern­ment, re­al­iz­ing the mar­velous things govern­ment can do for busi­ness such as pro­tec­tion against for­eign com­pe­ti­tion, sup­press­ing wages, pri­va­tiz­ing cer­tain govern­ment func­tions, fa­vor­able tax leg­is­la­tion, dereg­u­la­tion, etc.

In or­der to con­front in­creas­ing la­bor and reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance costs, in 1972 a cor­po­rate group formed the Busi­ness Roundtable to cul­ti­vate fa­vor­able po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ences. By this time many larger cor­po­ra­tions had be­gun to hire their own lob­by­ists and the prac­tice mush­roomed into the in­dus­try/ pro­fes­sion that to­day ex­er­cises un­ri­valed in­flu­ence over leg­is­la­tion and govern­ment poli­cies. To change cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives’ minds about the po­ten­tial re­turns from in­vest­ing in pol­i­tics, lob­by­ists have con­vinced their clients that Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics could ac­tu­ally be­come an­other profit cen­ter. Cor­po­rate boards have found they can of­ten re­al­ize a bet­ter re­turn on in­vest­ing in in­flu­enc­ing govern­ment poli­cies than by mod­ern­iz­ing ma­chin­ery, bet­ter ad­ver­tis­ing or build­ing new plants.

Ex­am­ple: It is gen­er­ally ac­cepted through­out the busi­ness world that bulk pur­chas­ing is re­warded with lower unit pric­ing. But in 2000 drug in­dus­try lob­by­ists suc­ceeded in at­tach­ing to the Medi­care Part D Bill, a pre­scrip­tion drug plan, a stip­u­la­tion that de­nies bulk pur­chas­ing cost ben­e­fits to its largest cus­tomer, the U.S. Govern­ment. That is the very epit­ome of the re­straint of trade and it went vir­tu­ally un­chal­lenged. We must take our coun­try back.

I say “take our coun­try back;” most of us have never re­ally pos­sessed it. Our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem has been rigged from its very in­cep­tion against the av­er­age in­come voter, in­de­pen­dents and third par­ties by the un­demo­cratic Elec­toral Col­lege, con­gres­sional district ger­ry­man­der­ing and the Se­nate fil­i­buster.

Obama led a strong eco­nomic re­cov­ery but made few sub­stan­tive changes other than the con­tro­ver­sial, po­lit­i­cally-vul­ner­a­ble ACA (Oba­macare) which hasn’t live up to ex­pec­ta­tions. And Hil­lary mostly promised more of the same and failed to con­nect with the Obama ma­jor­ity, although it was still there. To­day Trump of­fers lit­tle more than a nar­cis­sis­tic ego in­dul­gence which could do (and has done al­ready!) con­sid­er­able harm when­ever it leaks over into in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. Re­cent events both here and abroad in­di­cate both our pres­i­dent and our na­tion are in dire need of adult su­per­vi­sion. But from where will it come?

Ge­orge B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at reed1600@bell­

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