Kochs\’ Lobbying: you can read this two ways

The sums of money spent in furthering Koch (pronounced like the drink coke, no matter how tempting it is to rhyme it with rock) interests and power are staggering. But what is most disturbing is how rapidly they are growing. In 2004, the CPI found, the Kochs spent a \”mere\” $857,000 on lobbying. In 2008, that had grown to $20m dollars. Over the next two years, they then spent a further $20.5m.

The causes are varied but self-centred around the vital interests of Koch Industries such as oil, energy, chemicals and financial products. Employing no less than 30 lobbyists in Washington, Koch Industries has lobbied to change more than 100 pieces of federal legislation. They included trying to loosen regulations on potentially poisonous substances like dioxins, benzene and asbestos. They have pushed back against restrictions on carbon emissions and funded thinktanks and groups that promote efforts to discredit climate change science. They tried to soften attempts at financial reform where the Kochs operate in the derivatives market. Wherever a law touched on a Koch corporate interests, there were the company\’s lobbyists trying to gut, deaden or defeat any attempt at regulation.

The Kochs defenders argue that none of this should be surprising.

I\’m not particularly a defender of them: I certainly have no relationship, business or otherwise, with them or the organisations they support. But there are two ways of looking at this.

The first is the way the writer would like you to. Such bastards, eh? Buying up the laws of our great and noble land?

The second is to turn it on its head. Such politicians, eh? Bastards, the lot of \’em. Charging millions to change (or not change) the laws of our great and noble land. Get a business to any size and those politicians will shake it down.

One of the problems the US has is that while the first is certainly a good explanation some of the time the second is a good explanation waaaay too much of the time. No, it\’s not as bad as, say, Russia, but (believe it or not) probably worse than the UK.

6 comments on “Kochs\’ Lobbying: you can read this two ways

  1. Progressives believe that only they are entitled to lobby, which is what this boils down to. The vast rivers of cash flowing through the Progressive lobbying network- much of which originates in government, the rest in Puritist funding foundations- is “good works” money, so in their strange minds, it’s not lobbying, it’s something nice called “advocacy”.

    Basically the Proggies see politics as like a special game of football in which only one team is allowed to kick the ball.

  2. “.. probably worse than UK.”?
    Difficult to measure in terms of effects. The cash sums involved in the US are certainly larger. But maybe that’s because our politicians are cheap. In all meanings of the word.

  3. “probably worse than UK”

    Possibly true, but only because we have outsourced a great deal of the corruption to the Brussels kakistocracy.

  4. Another reason why we shouldn’t be centralising so much – it just makes life easier for all special interests groups, be they industrialists, unions or environmentalists.
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=5382

    “In 2003 Congress passed a trillion-dollar prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Not surprisingly, there was more lobbying on health care than on any other issue that year, some $300 million by PoliticalMoneyLine’s calculation. AARP was the biggest single spender. But unions and pharmaceutical companies accounted for most of the total.

    In most states education is the biggest budget item, and the teachers unions are the biggest lobbyists. As states start to spend more on Medicaid than on schools, health care lobbyists may become more numerous and effective than the education establishment.”

  5. It’s the Willie Sutton paradigm. “Why do you lobby politicians, Willie?” “Because that’s where the power is.”

    Best way to take money out of politics is to take power away from politicians.

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