In the wake of SOPA/PIPA (still ongoing of course) it has become apparent to even those who are apolitical that the positions our legislators take are primarily (if not exclusively) driven by they money they get rather than their constituents desires. Case in point is the almost comically corrupt Texas representative Lamar Smith who mysteriously decided that the interests of the handful of media conglomerates based in Hollywood, NYC, etc was significantly more important than anything he could do to represent his actual constituents and introduced SOPA (covered elsewhere on this blog and basically the rest of the internet). One the other side of the aisle you have Senator Franken representing a large contingent of high-tech industry workers in Minnesota. This man has been a hero to the left and the tech industry in general but we watched him confound everyone to fall in line with his previous bosses (and current bosses if you believe as I do that most of our legislators view their campaign contributors as their true masters) in show business to unconditionally support this deeply flawed legislation with a serious of increasingly bizarre and uncharacteristically ignorant essays.
Mysterious, that is, until you check out who is funding Lamar Smith. Not a surprise, the top industry contributing to him is the TV/Movies/Music industry. A significant portion of his funding also comes from the Beer and Tobacco industry which seems to account for his adamant opposition to even allowing the Judiciary committee to consider a bill to decriminalize marijuana (there nothing the beer and tobacco industry fears more than this, for obvious reasons).
A more recent and egregious example of blatant corruption is Florida Governor Rick Scott. What can you say about a man who starts a string of urgent care facilities (after being forced to step down as CEO of a healthcare company involved in the one of the largest medical frauds in US history) only to then become Governor and push through a law requiring mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients to benefit his company? The program itself is an abysmal failure, catching almost nobody but costing the taxpayers to pay for the testing. Where does the money go? Coincidentally to the care facilities that represent the largest chunk of Scott and his wife’s finances. He claims to technically not be guilty of a blatant conflict of interest because he quickly transferred the controlling ownership of the company to his wife and believes this magically makes him immune to any conflict of interest concerns. In the account/auditing industry they call this an independence violation and is cause for immediate termination. The standards should really be higher in government.
The point of all of this isn’t to point out how nearly all legislators and government leaders are bought and sold like so many streetwalkers (although even streetwalkers often have standards), I could fill another dozen blog posts with these examples and still not scratch the surface of how corrupt our government is. Our own Congress’s refusal to change the law exempting themselves from insider trading laws (until a recent 60 minutes story made this public knowledge) tells you all you need to know about true motivations. My point though is that it is impossible to have a debate or even rational discussion as to the merits of these laws with someone who is directly benefiting financially from them. Their actions up to this point have proven a total lack of integrity at all levels. Any argument they make, any evidence they introduce, any commercials they run or talking points they spout are suspect. It is a shame because the issues of copyright in the internet age, drug policy, welfare policy, and all other major issues our government is facing are worthy of public debate and examination. But this is impossible when so many of the decision makers are on the take, and selling their positions and integrity to the highest bidder. The only accurate measure of what a politician believes today is to find out who is funding them, or what business interests they own, and know that their positions will always align with that, public interest be damned.