If you want to understand how industries are able beat back even modest regulations aimed at protecting the public — whether to limit greenhouse gases from power plants or eliminate cancerous chemicals from children’s products — please check out some of The Center for Public Integrity’s investigative work this week and next.
The pattern — extremely successful from industry’s point of view — is crystal clear. Among the tactics: gumming up the regulatory process; deploying hundreds of high-paid lobbyists (many of whom were former legislators themselves), and making use of well-targeted and generous campaign contributions to line up votes from sitting legislators. The result is often defeat of proposed new regulations or infinite delay, which amounts to the same thing.
All of this is perfectly legal under America’s quasi-corrupt political system. I believe the word corrupt is apt because if an outsider looked at country “A” and saw that money from industry flowed freely to both former and current elected officials, and those former and current elected officials did exactly what industry wanted, we would say that country “A” had a problem. We would have no trouble labeling country “A” as having a corrupt or at least quasi-corrupt political system, even if all of these moves were permissible under the laws enacted by those same legislators.
We are country “A”.