Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lobbying and Gun Control

        As gun violence shows up in the media more and more, with more coverage of public and school shootings gun control has become a hot topic. Gun control and gun rights activists are constantly at each other's throats and both are looking to influence the government. 
       The two most influential players on the pro-gun side of the argument are the National Rifle Association and the National Association for gun rights. These groups and several others of the same breed spent about 30 million dollars on lobbying in 2013-2014. In contrast, lobbying from anti gun groups amounted to just about 4.5 million dollars in the same year. 
       The majority of gun rights lobbying money goes to congressional leaders who can, not only help vote gun control bills down, but also keep legislation from reaching the floor. In 2013-2014 House speaker John Boehner and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell were the biggest beneficiaries. Meanwhile Gun control lobbyists made little impact, giving very little to congress members in the name of their cause.

Top recipients, 2013-14
From gun rights groups
Boehner, John (R-OH)$74,690
Gardner, Cory (R-CO)$66,441
Cornyn, John (R-TX)$65,225
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)$58,800
Cotton, Tom (R-AR)$52,642
From gun control groups
Markey, Ed (D-MA)$2,500
Braley, Bruce (D-IA)$2,000
Manchin, Joe (D-WV)$2,000
Barber, Ron (D-AZ)$2,000
Kuster, Ann Mclane (D-NH)$1,500
         Despite all the big money being pumped into congress by gun control and gun rights lobbyists it isn't the biggest factor at play. Although lobbying may play a role polls show most Americans are in favor of gun rights, an attitude that has been growing over the past 20 years.
      Personally  I'm conflicted about gun control. I'm by no means pro-gun. In fact I think the world would be a better place if there were no guns at all. On the other hand, I just don't think stricter gun control laws would be very effective.
As far as lobbying goes I would hope gun rights groups would scale back a bit or gun control groups would up their game to add a little more equality to the system. Even if it won't make much of a difference I think both sides should have a chance to say their piece. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Lobbying Can Be a Good Thing
      So far I've mainly talked about the evils of corporate lobbying, but they aren't the only ones who can do it. Many independent have lobbied congress for important changes instead of monetary gain.
Below is a list of the ways lobbying has and can help worthy causes.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Lobbying the Food Pyramid
      Since lobbyists have been involved in federal nutrition standards  the main dietary health issue switched from malnutrition to diet related chronic diseases. This is most evident when examining the food pyramid. 
      Starting in the 1970s there was a big push from the meat and dairy industries for the government to help with their sales. So they lobbied congress and people were encouraged to eat more meat and dairy. When the first American food pyramid was created these industries poured money into the government to assure themselves a spot. As the food pyramid evolved lobbyist continued to bribe their product into each new version despite the obvious results.

A Lobbyist And A Senator Walk Into A Restaurant ...

Lobbying and the Environment

       Gas and oil companies spend millions each year to get their say in the government. They generally back conservative republicans, who generally create polices which damage the environment for the sake of economics (which is moronic because money doesn't matter if everyone is dead because we destroyed the planet). One of the biggest threat to the environment (as far as lobbying goes)is a group of industry lobbyists called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
       ALEC is a vehement opponent  of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They have fought the Obama administration's environmental standards for years.They have been an opponent limits on power plant emissions. They fought tax breaks wind energy firms. Basically they're awful, and there are plenty more just like them. 
        Fortunately, not all lobbyists are evil. There are lots of big and small environmental groups lobbying congress (mainly democrats) to pass laws benefiting the environment. 

Below is a link to pro-environment lobbying stats

And here is an article with more information about groups lobbying against the environment.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lobbying The FDA

          The job of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to keep the public safe by regulating food and drugs in America. It creates safety standards which producers are supposed to meet so their product can be consumed by the public. Despite the good intentions behind the agency, its integrity and validity are under scrutiny.
         I for one believe the FDA is a total sham, and is barely worth listening to. Just look at all the dangerous chemicals and medications used in America that are illegal in most other civilized countries. The problem is in part because the agency is understaffed and doesn't get enough government funding, but mainly the issues stem from lobbying.
          Between 2009 and 2011, prescription drug, biotechnology and medical device companies spent more than $700 million lobbying Congress and the Obama administration. All this money allows them to keep dangerous products in hospitals and on drug store shelves. It also encourages congress to pass legislation that threatens the integrity of the FDA.
      This year congress will be reauthorizing several laws that impact industry influence on the FDA. One law adds "creating jobs" to the FDA's mission statement (thus distracting from their real purpose). Another basically removes The FDA's standards of  “substantial evidence” when reviewing drugs and devices. New laws could relax the conflict-of-interests policies that keep scientist with financial stakes in a drug from making key decisions about its safety.
       Below is a link to a list of the companies lobbying the FDA.

Monday, November 2, 2015

In government, lobbying is when a group seeks to influence politics. This is usually done through a public official or politician. Lobbying is often accomplished by paying off government officials. The most significant lobbyists in America are corporations, which reportedly spend about $2.6 billion a year on such efforts. Lobbying effects taxes, food and drug regulations, energy prices, and many more areas.
         In this blog I will discuss current events having to do with lobbying, the effects of lobbying in different areas, and the issues created by lobbying. I share the common belief that lobbying is bad and will be writing from that bias.