Posted by: Skeptical Moose | August 29, 2009

Lobbying: Legalised Corruption

Sometimes the capacity for humans to do evil amazes me. It shocks me most, not when one considers murder, rape, etc (they are often understandable, maybe even biologically so), but when one attempts to explain selfishness and corruption of the highest order.

At the present time there are numerous individuals and groups doing all they can to deny climate change. Some of them are respected scientists and thus their views must be considered. But it is only when one digs deep that we so often realize the true nature of their objection and, surprise surprise, it is usually political (and politics in this sense means a route to power and money). Respected scientist publishes on website; website owned by company; company funded by Mr Oil Billionaire!! At the end of this article is a reference to some quite astonishing people who take evil to new levels!

“On the one hand we have the IPCC, the rest of the world’s major scientific organisations and the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser all pointing to the need to cut emissions. On the other hand we have a small band of skeptics (I hate how that term has been misused), including lobbyists funded by the oil industry, a science-fi writer (Michael Crichton) and The Daily Mail who deny the scientists are right. It is reminiscent of the tobacco lobby … there is no danger this lobby will influence the scientists, but … it is the influence on the media that is so poisonous.” (Bob May, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, 2005 – yes, as long ago as that!!)

So, we have a new Tobacco-style lobby. The difference in this century, however, is that it is now the politicians who visit big business; not the other way round. Those in or seeking power require constant and significant funds to be funneled to them, and granting major contracts to Big Military, Oil, Pharma, etc provides the sweetener.

A perfect example is America’s obsession with pleasing its defence contractors. We are short of that in the UK, though Tony Blair acting as Sales Director for BAE Systems (was that 72 Euro Fighters to Saudi Arabia, Mr Pres … erm, Mr Prime Minister) must help.[1]

As I write, it was reported that Chief Executives of Britain’s largest defence companies  called for more “honesty from politicians”, threatening that we might “lose our position at the top table” in world affairs[2]. You couldn’t make it up, could you!

Thank You for Smoking[3] is an excellent film and provides an intriguing insight into the mind of the lobbyist. I can of course understand the mentality: the ‘us against them’ approach; ‘no-one likes us, we don’t care’. Yet I fail to understand how adopting that as a career strategy can allow for anything less than insomnia in the long-term. Not everyone has to be a social worker, but blood on your hands also isn’t required!

Naturally, old-fashioned lobbying – that is, advocacy and reportage – must have a place. Politicians can not be experts on everything and it is crucial to source the views and experts and business, i.e. those with their ear to the ground.

As is evident from my writing, I love debate and enquiry. I am a skeptic and very proud to be so. Modern lobbyists are not, on the whole, skeptics. They speak the truth if necessary, but they spin like a dreidel and lie without fear of reprisal if that is the accepted strategy.

At this point many will be thinking, “This is all OK for you to say, Middle Class Boy; but some of us have no choice as to our means of employment.” Well, in this particular context, yes you do! Generally speaking, someone retained in this capacity will have a decent education, plenty of money and an understanding of the marketplace. The world has some terrible jobs – often the most beneficial to society of course – and they may be obligatory: lobbying is not!

As you will have gathered, I am most certainly no socialist and I love the Howard Roarks[4] of the world (human spirit triumphing over adversity). Be true to yourself; be stubborn; but be humble and don’t harm others to get ahead: there is simply no excuse for that.

I look forward (perversely and hypothetically) to confronting the climate change deniers in the years to come with the story of a Bangladeshi family destroyed by flood and famine. There will be one, you can be sure of that, because we have wasted so much time already as our plant continues to suffer. I hope their bribe was worth it!

A moment of reflection … Is it just me who feels like this? No-one ever seems to get punished for lying in public enquiries: just think of all the tobacco advocates who spouted constant falsehoods for 40-plus years. Maybe we are too far down the line to turn back now. Without question the UK is following the US example, but I take consolation in the fact that we are a long way short.

Please read this exposé of those people out to destroy our planet.

Write in and let me know your thoughts!!

“Real lobbying reform must end the practice of corporate lobbyists writing our laws.” (Marty Meehan)


[1] Incidentally, let’s give a big shout to comedian Mark Thomas, who did more than anyone to uncover that story. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7339231.stm. And take a look at this (BAE article)

 

[2] Their desperate plea is here

[3] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427944/

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fountainhead – one of THE great books of the 20th Century and you’ll finish it desperate to commit seven years of your life studying to be an architect!!

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