Buying off the US government is the best investment you can make!

thomas donlan has a great piece in today’s barron’s on the jack abramoff plea bargain. for those of you who missed it, abramoff plead guilty to funneling $25 million in ‘bribes’ to everyone from bush to a third of congress on behalf of indian tribes. what’s really funny is that he even plead guilty to ‘defruading’ the bribers.

donlan makes a great point that the republicans managed to reach the same level of corruption in just 11 months that the democrats had to develop over several decades. guess that makes the republicans more adept politicians, but we all knew that after watching the last two elections.

he also points to a website, capitaleye, that lists the names of everyone who accepted these bribes. it’s a veritable who’s who of our most famous politicians. included on the list is SF’s very own barbara boxer and diane feinstein. when donlan said there was a race amongst these politicians to give the money back which turned into a huge windfall for the american heart association and the boy scouts, i thought he was joking but it appears true.

i haight sounding so naive but here’s what i dont get, what’s the difference between a ‘lobbyist’ and ‘briber’? is it lobbying when nobody gets caught?

donlan finishes with a suggestion that’s near and dear to my heart. he wishes that all campaign contributions would be allowed so long as they’re made completely public on the internet. that way the public can decide for ourselves who’s the most corrupt.

i totally agree. in fact, it seems like a more efficient market if we can all have a shot at buying feinstein and the republicans. why not create an ebay like auction? maybe i can rally my fellow jews to bid on replacing indians as casino license recipients. think how much more money this might raise for worthy campaigns.

i for one love this idiot abramoff. in one fell swoop he has proven that both parties are equally corrupt. this isnt about the righteous democrats fighting the evil republicans. they’re all part of the same corrupt system.

now i havent followed the sentencing for abramoff but who wants to bet that he gets a slap on the wrist compared to poor old bernie ebers? why? because politicians have to protect their own. you never know when you’ll get caught so you better not set any dangerous precedants. throw away the key on those corporate titans. they dont have any more money to bribe you with anyway.

one last point. when you look at how little abramoff had to pay to buy our ‘leaders’, you realize that buying US government is probably the most undervalued investment there is. and what a great way to sustain patriotic giving! i say if groups like the indian tribes care enough to support our government, even both parties equally, they deserve a big reward. i mean, what have you apothetic slackers done for feinstein, the DNC or tom delay lately? nothing.

2 thoughts on “Buying off the US government is the best investment you can make!

  1. Mark,
    I share your irritation at this whole mess. However, I wanted to take a second to respond to two of your points.
    First, you ask what exactly lobbying is. Is it bribery in pinstripes? Is it only lobbying if you don’t get caught in bed together? To answer your question, lobbying, done without the honest to goodness bribery of taking a congressman on a $10k golf trip with a stated quid pro quo, actually does serve a purpose, and that purpose is access.
    To make it more germane to the people who are likely reading this blog, and to perhaps make it a little more applicable to the Silicon Valley, lobbying is often an old-school way of dealing with information overload. You could almost call it a way of dealing with search cost and dealing with attention scarcity.
    Some of the best lobbying has little to do with actual “You put this in the bill, I’ll give $10k to your campaign” and more with having the opportunity to sit down with a decision maker, and make a well-reasoned argument on behalf of your employer, capped by handing the decision maker a policy paper executive summary. It’s not always this, but if you consider that these decision makers only have 24 hours in their days, you can see how even getting access to get a topic on their radar can be valuable.
    At the end of the day, it’s not terribly different than or LinkedIn, parallels that you can doubtless see. Using a network of trusted sources as a gatekeeper for your attention, whether it’s your network drawn from co-workers from your startup, your neighbors in your Potrero loft building, and your college, or whether it’s a congressman’s former aides and campaign consultants who now work on K street, is a time-honored approach. Sand Hill Road and K Street definitely share that in common.
    However, with all that said, I think an AdWords-style or eBay-esque market for the attentions and actions of these congressman would be a cute experiment. At least we’d get some transparency, and there would be less of a dead weight loss to society. Of course, i suppose we have this already: it’s called voting, though votes aren’t weighted by dollars. Of course, election campaigns can be…
    Lastly, your comment about government being a good deal is absolutely spot on. I recall reading a paper where the sum-total of lobbying money that was spent by big pharma to get TV advertising bans on perscription drugs dropped was less than $10m. Compare that with the deluge of Viagra and Cialis ads we’ve seen in the last four years, and the uptick those and other products have seen in demand, and you can see that the CPAction for lobbying is a damn good deal.

  2. this isnt about the righteous democrats fighting the evil republicans. they’re all part of the same corrupt system.
    well said. It’s no wonder America hasn’t seen the likes of a true statesman with these cronies occupying the top.

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