Friday, August 07, 2009

The Deluge of Money into Politics, Or
Washington's Lobbying Culture, Part V

We've written often, though not recently, about the ill effects of too much money and high-powered lobbying on our national politics. We've also pointed out (here and here) the heroic job the Center for Responsive Politics has done in attempting to track it all. More recently, it's been joined by the Sunlight Foundation, which does equally fine work (which we noted last year). Sunlight recently added this uniquely helpful tracking device. The subject of money and lobbying is even due for Hollywood treatment soon, with actor Kevin Spacey playing the now-imprisoned sleazeball lobbyist Jack Abramoff in an upcoming movie. But sometimes, the mere act of compiling statistics speaks louder than even any narrative treatment could. I think that's true with this table of the top organizational donors to politicians and political parties over the last decade. It just kind of left me shaking my head. How about you?

8 Comments:

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Kim said...

I didn't follow all your links, but did look at the money chart. I don't like to consider myself a conspiracy theorist sort, but it is indeed interesting that the pharmaceutical companies lobby heavily Republican. Makes me wonder how much money there is in keeping people SICK...

This site has some thought provoking articles, though it does lean a bit to the conspiracy view. I'm too much an optimist that people are essentially good, so I discount some of it, but nonetheless, I wonder why so much money is spent studying pills and supplements and encouraging that versus nutrition and healthy living???

http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/

 
At 10:48 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

There's an awful lot of money in providing people drugs and therapies, especially the way we do it in this country, which is rigged in favor of pharmaceutical companies. So pouring a portion of it back into the political system is just an investment for them, one designed to keep that system rigged in their favor. And the shameful revolving door also works in their favor. The head of the pharma trade group is former Republican lawmaker Billy Tauzin, who just pulled a fast one on Obama this week.

 
At 6:34 AM, Blogger Kim said...

Again, not wanting to play the conspiracy theory card, but another area of concern I have is the nutritional guidelines set forth for our country. How heavily influenced are they by the farm lobbies versus true health needs?

I think it's very important for people to really study what they put into their bodies. I'm a big fan of the Weston Price foundation and their nutritional studies.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

To your point, former FDA commissioner David Kessler, who battled the tobacco industry during his time in office under Bill Clinton, has a new book out about a closely related issue, how our biggest food companies are behind much of the obesity epidemic, pushing their highly processed foods. Obviously, we all bear plenty of blame for getting away from healthy diets, but he makes a persuasive case (and I haven't read the book itself but a lot of the coverage of it) that the entire American food industry is also highly complicit.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/26/AR2009042602711.html

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Kim said...

John, to further expound upon your point, sugar (and processed white flour, and even natural sugars) affect the seratonin levels in the brain and that is why a lot of people are "food addicted". (keep in mind also that alcohol is like mainlining completely refined sugar, hence the reason a lot of reformed alcoholics have an intense sweet tooth). Our brains have a biochemistry that reacts to sugar fixes like a drug. I'm fascinated that the former FDA commisioner came forth with this. Thank you for sharing!

We don't need fad diets to fix any of this, just common sense eating. One rule I've heard repeatedly is the 1900 rule. If it wasn't available as a food prior to 1900, it's probably not healthy to eat.

I am pretty sure though, ice cream was available before then. :)

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Kim, I must admit my eyes have only been opened to all of this fairly recently. And the former FDA commish's addition to the topic nicely explains how much structural economic force there is behind bad eating, and since it all comes as an outgrowth of his lifelong battle with weight, it's nicely anchored in something we can all identify with. This subject should be near the top of the list of consumer concerns, although I suppose you could say it is, since the entire natural food/local food movement is dedicated to changing how we cook and eat, and the ingredients we use.

Another rule you sometimes hear is that one should only be buying items arrayed at the edges of most grocery stores, rather than what's in the middle, since the freshest stuff is around the edges. I'm not sure how accurate that is, since it seems there's still plenty of processed food in the dairy and meat sections, for instance. What do you (and others) think?

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Kim said...

I would suggest it's more about reading labels and knowing what "shouldn't" be in your food. In my case it just involved a lot of reading and fact checking. I'm not an expert by any means, but instead was inspired by a series of unfortunate events, to minimize it.

About 5 years ago, within a 6 month time frame, 6 people in my immediate circle of friends or family were diagnosed with cancer. Of those 6, one is still alive. They were not related by genetics nor were they attacked by the same sorts of cancer. More like a series of drive by shootings.

Being somewhat of a control freak and the CEO of our house made me determined to do "whatever I could" to make sure that horrible disease never touched my children or husband or myself. I embarked on a mission to eliminate anything unnatural in our lives, and made an intense study of nutrition and diet. Hoping to build the best defense we could against the horror of cancer.

Between that and prayer, it's going pretty well.

So you see, my passion is fueled perhaps by fear. But I can say that we are healthy and happy and the kids laugh at their granola hippie green mom.

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Wow!

 

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