The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘lobbyists’

WHO’S GOT THE POWER? (PART ONE)

Those of us who had the benefit of learning grammar as part of our elementary school curriculum may remember that words which modify nouns are known as adjectives.  An example would be “Fearless Leader” – as it was used by Jay Ward in “Rocky and Bullwinkle” – perhaps the most creative cartoon series of all time.

Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in journalism.  I’m not sure if this is an intentional attempt to introduce yet another classification into our grammar, but it seems that certain nouns almost always are preceded by the same adjective – as though the two are inseparable.  I refer to this new entry into the English language as an adje-noun.  The most apparent example to me is the “POWERFUL NRA”.

Being powerful means that someone or something has a great deal of inherent strength and exerts that power to achieve its ends.  In the world of politics, at least in the United States, that usually takes the form of lobbying our elected representatives to influence them to vote for those laws which will benefit a company or an association.  A great deal of money is spent by respective organizations to accomplish that mission.

As I have heard so much since the Newtown tragedy about the Powerful NRA’s gun lobby, I thought I would take a look at how powerful that organization actually is, how much they spend on their lobbying efforts and to compare that to other industries and groups which also engage in lobbying activities.

What follows is a list of lobbyists by industry for the calendar year 2012, compiled by OpenSecrets.org:

Opensecretsindustry groups

The original link to this chart may be found at https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2012&indexType=i

If you go to the source and want to review this information, clicking on each industry brings up the companies and organizations which are included in the compilation.  Incidentally, this data is available going back to 1998 and although there is some slight variation on who spends the most money on a year to year basis, the same industries consistently appear at the top of the list.

If you spend a few minutes with this chart, perhaps you will see the same thing that I noticed.  There are four industries, Pharmaceuticals/Health Products; Hospitals/Nursing Homes; Health Professionals; and Health Services/HMO’s which aggregately spent $359 Million in 2012 to advance their agendas.

In addition, if you look at the detail under Insurance, the top two lobbyists in that category were Blue Cross/Blue Shield and America’s Health Insurance Plans which paid an additional $17 Million to lobbyists.  That comes to a total of $376 Million spent in one year by businesses and professionals in the Health Care Industry.

I returned to the OpenSecrets.org website to try to put the powerful NRA’s lobbying efforts in perspective.  Here is the link to that information:

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000082

By comparison, the powerful NRA spent only $2.2 Million last year in their lobbying efforts.  That’s five percent of what the defense and aerospace industry spent and five percent of what the auto industry spent; that’s four percent of what unions representing government workers spent; that’s three percent of what unions and others involved in education spent; that’s two and one half percent the amount that the entertainment industry spent; and that’s just over one half percent the amount that people involved in healthcare paid their lobbyists.

I have yet to hear the argument that gun owners are the cause of our anemic economy, our spiraling deficits, our unacceptable rates of unemployment or the out of control costs associated with healthcare, although it is not hard for me to believe that those in Washington who are, apparently oblivious to the facts, might try to advance that case.

Despite the recent comment by President Obama that “we do not have a spending problem,” most people with the smallest grip on reality realize that statement is exactly the reason that we have many of our problems – and at the heart of it is our healthcare system.

Is it mere co-incidence that the industry which is most greatly benefited by our excesses is the largest single contributor to lobbying efforts to maintain their place at the top of the food chain?

Is one of the causes for the murders we commit the fact that more and more Americans are feeling helpless and bereft of hope and turn to irrational, violent acts out of despair?  Or is it the intransigent Powerful NRA which is at fault?

So in America, who’s got the power?  I think the numbers speak for themselves.

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