Have you hugged a corporate lobbyist today?

One of the most often repeated problems from both sides of the political aisle are complaints about lobbyists and special interests.  Correct me if I’m wrong but the gripe goes something like this: Public policy should be crafted based on what’s in the best interest of the people and not the size of a corporation’s checkbook. While both sides of the political aisle make this complaint, the left’s outrage is stronger (IMHO) and they also usually add the qualifying word “corporate” in their attacks against lobbyists.


I’m here to set the record straight that lobbyists are not the problem, if anything; they are part of the solution to making our government function better.  It’s true that lobbyists back-up their lobbying efforts with money in the form of campaign contributions, but in a free society like ours, should you decide to give a politician money, you don’t need a lobbyist, all you need is a checkbook.


Lobbyists have earned the trust of the politicians they support and provide advice to them on how best to craft public policy. They are ready, willing and able to roll up their sleeves and alert politicians as to the cost of proposed rules and regulations as well as the potential for unintended consequences. For example, the reason the ACA is 2,000 pages is because providing health insurance to all wasn’t as simple as requiring insurance companies to cover those with preexisting conditions.  Expert lobbyists in the field of healthcare advised politicians on how to draft a bill that would be as loophole free as possible.  It’s too bad they didn’t listen to more free market leaning healthcare lobbyists, but that’s what happens when one party controls the Legislative and Executive branch.


Another good reason for the existence of lobbyists is that it makes logical sense for people of like-minded philosophies to speak as one.  For example, assume you own an ethanol factory; it’s unlikely that you will have the ear of government.  But when banded together as a consortium of ethanol producers with a lobbying arm, technical experts and money to spend, you have the potential to shift public policy the way you would want it to go.  Of course politicians only have themselves to blame if they only listen to the ethanol lobby when creating ethanol policy.  So it can only be beneficial that in addition to the ethanol lobby, politicians solicit input from environmental lobbyists, oil & gas lobbyists, etc.


Back to corporate lobbyists, if it wasn’t for their lobbying efforts, there would be only one sphere of influence on politician..  For example, when politicians write the legislation for clean air related to power plants, don’t you think it’s prudent to listen to what power plant owners have to say about proposed regulations and not just the other side? Outrage at corporate lobbyists is just a phony excuse for silencing those entities the Left disagrees with so that their favored lobbyists are the only groups who have the ear of government.


So please do us all a favor and hug a corporate lobbyist, as they are fighting the good fight.


Dino Manalis Added Jul 12, 2017 - 1:44pm
Lobbying should be limited to the exchange of ideas, not money, while fundraising has to be kept local and personalized, not corporate.  We need good corporate policies to maintain a strong economy and job growth, but corporations ought not dominate public policy, the focus needs to be on the public's interest first.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 12, 2017 - 2:19pm
Corporations have never dominated public policy.  If they had, we wouldn’t have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
It is not bribery to provide money and expertise to politicians that are on your side of the political divide. Can we at least agree that if corporate money be excluded from the equation, so should other monies politicians receive?  If yes, I encourage you to research the Citizens United ruling, specifically the arguments in favor.  Summarized, to the extent you outlaw contributions to political campaigns, they’ll contribute to political action committee or some other influencing entity.  If you make that illegal, there will be other ways to spend money to influence voters that the court system won’t easily be able to find.   Finally, corporations and other entities don't need lobbyists to give money. We might as well let freedom reign, because the alternative could be a whole lot worse.   
Jeff Jackson Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:20pm
Would it be too much to ask that the people have lobbyists as well? Municipal bonds used to be tax-free thanks to the lobbyists, so the rich got high interest rates on millions of dollars and paid zero taxes on their money. Corporations can insure investments that belong to other people, as if I am insuring my neighbor's house, and I lay money on the probability the lobbyists made that arrangement. Can my citizens' lobbyist make it so I can insure my neighbor's investments?That way, if my neighbor's investments go bad, I get to collect the money. Sounds good to me, but will probably never happen.
When cities confiscate homes that citizens cannot pay the taxes on, then the corporations buy the homes at steeply reduced rates and then sell them on the free market for much more than the back taxes that they paid for them. I'm sure the lobbyists made those arrangements as well. Please explain to me how insuring the investments of other people, or paying the back taxes and owning property surrendered by citizens are good ideas, and both came from lobbyists.
George N Romey Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:39pm
I read a book awhile back from a retired big hitter lobbyist. The industry ballooned in the 80s for the sole purpose of making lots of money. The interest of the American people was not a focal point.
Bill H. Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:41pm
I will use the term Corporate because it applies. I am not a Democrat, Commie, or Left Wing Radical, although since I disagree with you, I will be labeled as one.
Corporations are out to totally control society, and have pretty much accomplished their goal over the years thanks to digital technology by utilizing social manipulation techniques and mass marketing.
Corporations already control the Government by using lobbyists and PACS at all levels from cities, counties, states, and federal. It doesn't matter which party we are talking about these days.
The obvious ones are Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Data, and Big Insurance.
I spent many years in the communications industry and both observed and was occasionally forced to participate in acts that involved deception, bribery, false marketing, and cheating of both customers and government officials in order to protect my job and keep up profits. I also witnessed falsification of test results for entities such as the FCC, and was asked on several occasions to provide reports with false results and my signature, which I refused. This ended up causing me to change employers, but I still observed these practices within the new company.
You certainly won't find me hugging a corporate lobbyist anytime soon!
The Government works for the people and should be controlled by the people. Our Democracy has turned into a Corporatocracy.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 12, 2017 - 4:50pm
That’s not too much to ask.  Citizens should band together and hire lobbyists.  I would argue they already do, but the more Congress listens to citizens the better.  Not sure what Municipal Bonds have to do with this discussion, but I’m all for making it more difficult for cities and towns to borrow.  Which is exactly what would happen if Municipal Bonds were not tax free.  I think the rest of your comment shows a lot of confusion in how the real estate market works.  If you don’t pay your taxes, the municipality where the taxes are owed will take your house.  Banks don’t want to lose their mortgage so they step in and foreclose as well as pay back taxes.  If banks couldn’t protect their mortgage in this manner, only the very rich could afford a home. 
What industry ballooned?  What was the name of the book you read?
Corporations are not out to totally control society...are you some kind of left wing radical?
In all seriousness, corporations hire people who make products and services that we demand.  Businesses large and small incorporate because it’s the easiest way to do business in America without being personally liable.  So when a corporation hires a lobbyist to convince a politician how best to accomplish something, it benefits us all. Or are you the type of person who doesn’t have a mortgage, mobile phone, car or gym membership?  After all, all of these things are provided by corporations. 
Bill H. Added Jul 12, 2017 - 11:50pm
Do you really believe that a corporate lobbyist is looking out the best interests of both the corporation and the people?
Do you really not believe that corporations are out to eliminate the competition at all costs simply to enhance the month end stockholder report?
Well, I guess because I see this, I am "some kind of Left Wing Radical".
(you forgot to add the Pinko Commie).
I've been there, done that, and got the Tee Shirt, OK? I simply look at it as I saw it then and see it now.
Keep drinking and tear open another envelope while your at it.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 7:36am
Do you really believe that a corporate lobbyist is looking out the best interests of both the corporation and the people?
Of course not.  In having corporate lobbyists it is more likely corporations succeed and their success is critical to our very livelihood.  If we banned corporate lobbyists and only allowed all the lobbyists who look to harm corporations, can you imagine how much worse our quality of life would be?
Do you really not believe that corporations are out to eliminate the competition at all costs simply to enhance the month end stockholder report?
I don’t believe that at all.  Corporations want to succeed in perpetuity, not for a single month-end report.  I’m sure corporations would like to make better products and services so people choose them over their competition.
As to name calling.
I think your opinions on corporations mirror that of the left.  I’m not going to go as far as to call you a commie, but you shouldn’t take offense to being called a liberal…or do you?  As to being called a left wing radical, I thought you were cracking a joke, so played a long, but I apologize if you took offense.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 9:02am
What’s pathetic?  Corporations profit from the labor of their employees, so why harm the golden goose?  Or did you think corporations hired out of the kindness of their heart or that those products make themselves?
Stone-Eater Added Jul 13, 2017 - 9:15am
I love corporate lobbyists. They are the best example of no-personality biological errors. Asslickers and spreadsheet pretenders. In Africa such people aren't even noticed, and if, they are cut short and disposed of...
Bill H. Added Jul 13, 2017 - 12:13pm
We have way to much labeling here on WB. Seems that if someone has an opinion (even on one subject) that differs, they are immediately labeled. There are many opinions that I have that have been labeled as "conservative".
It's hell being a fence-sitter.
I wish your responses were the case. Maybe they were many years back, but I don't see it now. As I mentioned, I was involved in, and witnessed many cases to the contrary, so I guess I am tainted.
John Minehan Added Jul 13, 2017 - 12:31pm
Interesting, but it misses the crux of the issue.
We have lobbyists (and the administrative state) because issues are too complex and the Federal government's role is too pervasive for (even very bright) citizen-legislators to be able to vote intelligently on every issue. 
If you have ever had to explain to a Ph.D. in government running for office how RBRVS works (or even how Medicaid works) then you know what I mean.  G-d forbid trying to explain how ERISA effects healthcare!
Wilson and the various Progressives a century ago thought bureaucracy would save us,  but they lost sight of the fact that where people have necessary skills, they try to monetize those skills (or they try to make themselves indispensable by multiplying the rules and the exceptions).
The road to hell (or at least dysfunction) is paved with good intentions.   
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 2:51pm
I couldn’t agree more, way too much labeling on this site.  However, if you called me a free market, capitalist, Republican, I wouldn’t mind one bit.
To be sure, there is a utopian government out there where things don’t get complex.  Here in the real world, things are really complex, that’s why politicians need the help of sophisticated and experienced lobbyists.   Who's Wilson?
TexasLynn Added Jul 13, 2017 - 2:55pm
Very good article and I'm getting in a bit late here to add my two cents...
Overall, I agree with Phil's view concerning the lobby industry.  Whether it's corporate, or foundation, or union, or PACs (Political Action Committees), or whatever... lobbying is like anything else invented by man.  Its use can be constructive or destructive (and is often both).  It's easy to focus on the destructive.
All lobbies have their biases and agendas and we (and the politicians) are better served when we recognize those things (whether we agree with them or not).
I would hope my representatives would be willing to listen to those on the opposite side of issues; especially if it comes from an approach of intellectual honesty.  We could really learn a lot from each other with honest discussion; but our society has degraded beyond that point.  (Not that I'm any less guilty than my lefty neighbors.)
I would also hope my representatives are wary of the echo chambers emanating from all those voices that agree and support him/her financially.  The blinders created can result in horrible unforeseen consequences to legislation.
If I could change one thing concerning lobbying; it would be the requirement of "immediate full disclosure" of donations (who, how much, when) by both the recipient and the donor.  I'm talking within hours; which should not be that difficult in this technological day and age.  Money will always be applied to affect government policy as it always has been.  The best we can hope for is the light of day to keep things as honest as possible.
Thanks for the article...
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 3:09pm
Thanks for the compliments, I agree with every word of your response up until the last paragraph.  One does not need to be a lobbyist to give money.  So when you talk about disclosure, you’re talking outing who gives, how much they give and to where they give.  One only needs to look at what happened to Brendan Eich to know how dangerous this change of yours could be.  If you need it explained, just let me know and I’ll be happy to do so. 
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 6:28pm
I can see we aren’t going to agree on much, but it pleases me to know that what you feel is common knowledge is actually in dispute.  For example, labor and capital are tied the hip.  Without labor it’s difficult to put one’s capital to work and without capital it’s difficult to find work for labor. 
Cliff M. Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:14pm
Nice try Phil,  Just look at the GOP health care bill the "lobbyist's" concocted behind closed doors for their donor class. Million's of loser's and a handful of winners. This bullshit approach that has taken over the politics has done massive damage to the middle class so the select few can prosper. Being in a position to have total advantage over the average American just reeks . The lobbyist's belong in the bottom of the ocean along with the whale shit.
John Minehan Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:31pm
"Who's Wilson?"
Learn some basic history and it might be worth talking to you. 
George N Romey Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:43pm
Actually Wilson was the first President to be taken in under the Deep State.  Big money interests got him to go into WW1 despite claims he would keep us out of it.  He allowed for the creation of the Fed, the most evil empire ever to walk on the face of this Earth.  He passed prohibition and levied a federal income tax instead.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 9:07pm
How can a bill that has never become law do massive damage?  For massive damage, look no further than Obummercare.
John & George;
Assuming John was talking about Woodrow Wilson, what in the world does he have to do in an article about corporate lobbyists of today? 
Phil Greenough Added Jul 13, 2017 - 9:22pm
I have no interest in reading anything written by Karl Marx.  It would be like learning a dead language.  However, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that a socialist would wish to pit labor against capital. 
TexasLynn Added Jul 13, 2017 - 10:10pm
>> I agree with every word of your response up until the last paragraph.
I thought that might be the case... but surely, we conservatives can disagree and civilly discuss our differences. :)
>> One does not need to be a lobbyist to give money.  So when you talk about disclosure, you’re talking outing who gives, how much they give and to where they give. 
I didn't go into much detail concerning the concept of full disclosure (for space reasons); the general goal of which I think is to bring out in the open where MOST of the money is coming from.  Knowing that some representative may be financially beholden to a corporation, union, or specific organization is useful information in a republic. 
Drilling down on the concept, I would be less concerned about small individual donations; something that would be worked out by our representatives.  It is the general concept I would ask you to focus on.
>> One only needs to look at what happened to Brendan Eich to know how dangerous this change of yours could be. 
Brendan Eich is a great example of the free speech issues in America today.
I have much sympathy for Mr. Eich; and what happened to him was tragic and unjust and stupid.  But the First Amendment protects us from government reprisals; not individuals or the free market.  That said... freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences (outside government entities).  Bendan Eich is protected by the first amendment from Los Angeles, California, or the United States from acting against him because of his speech (or speech through donation). 
Freedom of speech does not immunize you from the reactions of private individuals, groups, or companies.  And unless I'm mistaken... that is what he (and Mozilla) suffered from.
What happened to Mr. Eich is more of a demonstration of the uncompromising intolerance and hatred of the left and their gravitation toward scorched earth social and political warfare.  He wasn't the first... and he won't be the last.
I don't purchase Ben and Jerry's ice-cream (Blue Bell is Better).  I like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A.  I purchased every album the Dixie Chicks ever released... until the crap they pulled in Europe.  I think Pepsi sucks (just like Michael Jackson and Madonna who endorsed it).  I don't watch MSNBC.  I like Android over Apple.  I use the Chrome browser over IE and Mozilla.  What's in my Wallet?  Not a Capitol One credit card...
Some of the above decisions are socially based (causes, donations, celebrity endorsements, etc...)  Am I denying anybody their First Amendment rights?  Even if the decisions I make are based on hate in my heart and I organize thousands against one of these products or companies... am I denying anybody their First Amendment rights?  No.  In fact, I’m exercising mine…
It's the free market; and if we're going to live by it then we must die by it when the left uses it maliciously.
You and I, based on the opinions we express right here right now, are taking the same chance.  Something we write may go viral, end up on MSNBC and... who knows what... That chance is one of the costs of liberty.
>> If you need it explained, just let me know and I’ll be happy to do so.
I would appreciate any clarity you would care to offer.  Again, your original article was solid.  I just thought I would add my two cents even suspecting we may disagree.
Dr. Rupert Green Added Jul 14, 2017 - 1:16am
Very interesting and enlightened discussions. This is for the big boys and girls. So, I will just sit back, read, and learn. Thanks.
Cliff M. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 7:41am
Phil,  The text of the proposal is enough said. Look at the opioid epidemic.Legal drugs killing thousands.Marijauna classified as worse than many opioids. Obamacare was a win for the insurance industry not the people.Why was minimal legislation passed after the recession to help the labor market?Why was illegal immigration not dealt with? Who benefits from a soft labor market?
 There is a place for lobbyist's but the current state has become a vomit job riddled with fortune hunter's that have little concern for the well being of the ordinary American.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 14, 2017 - 8:07am
I think the big component of the Eich case you’re not factoring into the equation is that according to the First Amendment anonymous speech is legal.  Eich’s identity should have been protected.  The left’s mob couldn’t have made him suffer, and others suffer, if people could give anonymously.  With that in mind, does that alter your reply to me?
More information is certainly better than less information, but the one being ignorant in this discussion you.  We have tests cases galore, where capitalism is embraced the economy is strong where socialism is embraced the economy is a train wreck. 
Dr. Green;
C’mon, you’re the only one with a Dr. in your title, let’s hear your two cents.
Guess which party passed Obamacare without a single vote from the other. 
Cliff M. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 8:50am
Phil, Lobbying has become a very one sided affair.It has reached a point of legal conspiracy and cronyism which dictates the legislative agenda.A huge win for the capital holders while many ordinary Americans have been left in ruins. The corporate party passed obamacare. It was not the will of the people.Neither is the current nonsense proposed by the GOP.
Cliff M. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 9:07am
Why has union membership fallen to an all time low? Could it be the big money has bought out our elected representatives on policy? Current lobbying is directly responsible for the elimination of the American Dream for most and the dismal future faced by the vast majority.
Dr. Rupert Green Added Jul 14, 2017 - 10:23am
Sorry Phil, I just completed a campaign to become a Republican city council candidate, so just all your discussion can garner from my tired brain is a "LIKE," which most know I have disdain for.  
Because you demand more: Great topic on politics and government, which encompasses a great leeway in the discussion.  
I am conflicted on some of what is happening, thus my desire to learn. Are corporation people? Are lobbyist scrounges or do they serve a useful purpose? The people have a right to form special interest groups to strengthen their appeal to their government. But are politicians taking the advice of the special interest or the lobbyist over the unmobilized people?  ( Does Trump victory offer a lesson on the stupidity of same?)
Are the responses here centered on our disposition for a particular political party or a political system?
I know how America destabilized Jamaica because Prime-minister Manley tried socialism. I know how Cuba helped Jamaica. I know how I agreed with Obama on Cuba, and I know how I disagree with President Trump on Cuba.  I know how the world hates the American Government, but loves the American people.
I know how marijuana was illegal because the gov could not tax it. I know how since it became taxable, millions in tax are being made. Will that mean there will be more or less addictions, or less street killings because of availability? Is one trade off better than the other?
Yes politics, is about trade offs, and one group will be disgruntled in the process. Notwithstanding, this is a great country where political assassination is not the order of the day, it being trumped by our ability to have opened discussion--with character assassinations when needed. That should be guarded. And if it means stopping people from countries that are into killings rather than debates, lets support President Trump if that is what he wants to do.
We here are the ones who can speak for the dead who were blown up by terrorists. Lets use that ability wisely, and to prevent us and others from becoming bombing victims who generally will lose the ability to speak (memorariums in laws passed give some speech after death). 
Phil Greenough Added Jul 14, 2017 - 10:50am
I couldn’t agree more, lobbying has become a very one sided affair.  Look no further than Obamacare to witness how business leaders have almost no voice in the affairs of our government.  However, somehow you see this regulation, which clearly harms big business, as some kind of huge score for business.  Maybe the healthcare companies got away with murder, the rest of the economy was clearly harmed.  As far as union membership is concerned, thank god it’s in decline as they’ve done a hell of a job of scaring away employers from competing wherever lobbyists representing unions have sway.
Dr. Green;
Are corporation people?
According to the SCOTUS…yes.
Are lobbyist scrounges or do they serve a useful purpose?
I think they serve a useful purpose.  I say that about the ones I agree with and the ones I don’t.
Are politicians taking the advice of the special interest or the lobbyist over the unmobilized people? 
The people are mobilized, as all lobbying entities are representing people.  Some of these people work in the energy sector, others are trying to increase the minimum wage, the list goes on. 
Cliff M. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 11:11am
Phil, Discouraging unions has done massive damage to the middle.From a high of around 30% of labor they have shrunk to near 7%. I do not know how in touch you are with the middle class labor market but it is in bad shape now with no reason to be optimistic.
 Wikipedia states that some believe that lobbying is legalized bribery.
Bill H. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 11:11am
"Look no further than Obamacare to witness how business leaders have almost no voice in the affairs of our government"
The new health care bill was crafted by the health care and pharma industries behind closed doors, along with mega-bucks being donated to the candidates responsible for getting it pushed thru.
This bill is all about profits and full pockets. Not at all about what is best for the nation.
Cliff M. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 11:56am
Look no further than the economy that has been created since the recession.A job market with millions of openings. The talking heads claim a skills mismatch is the reason. The real reason is after corporate America has had a soft labor market to cherry pick from at chump change wages they expect it to continue for ever. Most skilled, experienced wage earners would rather make do than give it away.Why have wages stalled? Because of the lopsided policy that has prevailed since the recession.Rewarding the few at the cost of the majority is one of the main reasons this economy has never gained enough traction to get beyond 2 % GDP growth. A weak labor market and weak growth go hand in hand no matter what bullshit statistics presented claim.
 Bill H, Spot on. A great example of the power of lobbying.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 14, 2017 - 1:33pm
Bill & Cliff;
It’s clear you both see eye to eye on political matters and I believe something different.  The good news is that there are lobbyists fighting for your causes and there lobbyists fighting for mine.  I happen to think yours are more powerful and have more money than mine, and I’m sure you believe the opposite is true.  The point of this article is that rather than silencing lobbyists, we should allow them to speak on our behalf.  All I ever read from the Left are arguments to silence mine, so that yours can continue unabated.  Sounds pretty low way to go about getting your political way.  However, I could understand your philosophy if I were to believe the end justifies the means.  Unfortunate for me I guess, as I don't believe the end justifies the means.    
Bill H. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 2:30pm
There is a middle ground that needs to be achieved. It should not be only about the people, but what is best for both people and businesses.
Right now it is all about the biggest of big businesses and not at all about the people. The almighty dollar is virtually the only decisive factor.
Both present parties are part of the problem, and we need a new party that can see the big picture.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 14, 2017 - 4:35pm
I recognize you disagree with what I’m about to say, but what’s good for business is good for the people.  If “it” was all about the biggest of big businesses, the government wouldn’t do 95% of the stuff it’s currently doing. 
I don’t think this discussion has anything to do with party politics.  However, if you lean Left and are upset with the behavior of your party, that’s music to my ears.  For the most part, your party votes in unison on everything, so a little dissension in the ranks would be a good thing. 
Bill H. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 6:34pm
I could lean either way depending on what I see as right or wrong, and I am neither a Democrat or Republican.
As an example, I don't see charging someone $750 today for a pill that was previously costing $13.50 a year or two earlier and can still be purchased out of the US for $1.53 a pill (all from the same manufacturer).
Certainly good for business, but not good for all of the HIV and ME/CFS patients who require this drug (not to mention the increased insurance coverage rates to all, thanks to outrageously expensive medication).
Phil Greenough Added Jul 14, 2017 - 8:51pm
If there’s one thing I know about ad hominem attacks is that when they’re launched the person doing the launching obviously lost on merits of the argument.  Now go troll someone else you little twit. 
How is your pill story at all relevant to the discussion at hand?  If you have some suggestion about public policy or tax policy, that would be relevant.  But highlighting a single company making lots of money says nothing.  For whatever it’s worth, I could do the same.  I could identify some now defunct company and all those people out of work, it would mean nothing without some suggestion on what should be changed. 
Bill H. Added Jul 14, 2017 - 10:33pm
Phil, It is relevant, as an example pharmaceutical companies (among others) send human lobbyists and green (money) "lobbyists" to also insure that candidates will not take actions that result in the controlling of costs or investigating pricing for the industry.
Is this "fighting the good fight"?
Cliff M. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:23am
Phil,  With legal opioids killing thousands of Americans each year why is big pharma held largely unaccountable? Is this another case of our law makers unwilling to bite the hand that feeds them? As to the politics I try to take the common sense stance position on the issues.Extremism either way has become a major political problem
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:42am
"With legal opioids killing thousands of Americans each year why is big pharma held largely unaccountable?"
Because they don't have any legal responsibility.
They make a product.  They do not force Doctors to issue a 'scrip; nor do they force someone to use the product irresponsibly.
While that is harsh, it also sets a predictable, legal limit to responsibility. 
'A world of universal duty would quickly become a world of universal breach," as the late Prof. Bob Tyman used to say.  
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:49am
I defer to Bill Joel:  "Hot funk, cool punk, even if it's old junk/It's still rock and roll to me."
Or, as Count Basie said about the competing varieties of Jazz, "It's all just the Blues."
Phil Greenough Added Jul 15, 2017 - 9:08am
Seeing that you went low first, I had already won, so it’s perfectly OK for me to call you whatever I damn well please.
Not everything you dislike about our free market system is explained by lobbyists or money.  The pharmaceutical industry has much to discuss with politicians, as there is much harm others would like to do to their business.  We could get in the weeds on this, but is it really necessary.  I mean, are you making the argument they should not be allowed to defend their industry via lobbyists? 
With legal opioids killing thousands of Americans each year why is big pharma held largely unaccountable?
Because as far as I can tell they haven’t done anything wrong.  However, if you can prove opioid abusers are obtaining their drugs directly from pharmaceutical companies.  As in, without a prescription, you’d have something on them.   I believe this is an excellent example of how your political bias is clouding your common sense on this issue. 
Cliff M. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:07pm
Phil, I was reading about a place in Kentucky where a mom and pop pharmacy was supplying 100's of thousands of opiod pills monthly while the local cvs and similar pharmacies were at a pace of less than 10,000. Why are situations like this not readily addressed? Who can supply a small town pharmacy like that and go unnoticed? Bad policy produced from unhealthy favorable politics is the only way these results can accrue.
Bill H. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:16pm
Cliff, when you are an industry that literally controls the government as a puppet, you can get away with just about anything that suits your interests no matter what the negatives are. Insurance pricing, Drug pricing, fracking, and GMO crops are prime examples.
Cliff M. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:02pm
Bill, The vast majority of our elected officials are mere puppets on a string doing only as their masters please .If the GOP Obamacare replacement is so good why is support from our law makers invisible. I have never seen anything like it .
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:28pm
"I was reading about a place in Kentucky where a mom and pop pharmacy was supplying 100's of thousands of opiod pills monthly while the local cvs and similar pharmacies were at a pace of less than 10,000. Why are situations like this not readily addressed? Who can supply a small town pharmacy like that and go unnoticed?"
That would be criminal conduct on the part of the pharmacy, not the fault of the manufacturer.  Very probably the manufacturer raised the issue with the applicable police agency.  Criminal activity like that supervenes tory liability.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:11pm
Bill & Cliff;
If big business controlled government, how do you explain the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world?  How do you explain Obamacare? How do explain our progressive tax system?  How do you explain Dodd-Frank?  The list goes on, it’s you folks that control government.  The reason the stock market is at a record high is that for the first time ever all three branches of government are not hostile to business.  However, if it appears like the Republicans are going to lose in 2018, like what happened at the end of Bush’s presidency, you can bet for a major correction. 
Excellent retort to Cliff. 
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:32pm
"If big business controlled government, how do you explain the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world?  How do you explain Obamacare? How do explain our progressive tax system?  How do you explain Dodd-Frank?"
. .  . and, if lobbying were really effective, why would we have any of those things? 
Cliff M. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:38pm
John, This situation with the mom and pop pharmacy went on for a number of years. Wouldn't you say some were complicit in this affair.Phil, If we have a progressive tax system why do many top income earners pay at an effective rate less than the middle?
 A corporate tax rate that is effectively just over 16% with years of record profits.Why is this even an issue. The ordinary American has been stuck in limbo for years and they can't even get on the agenda. The money is free speech ruling has tilted the playing field totally in favor of capital and will continue to do great harm to the majority while the fleecing of middle America continues.
Cliff M. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:49pm
Phil, When it comes to big pharma and the opioid crisis they helped create, are you going to tell me they don't know how to count? They can count every $dollar in the billions in profits they have made but don't know how to count how many pills their distributors are sending to these small pharmacies in rural area's. This situation started many years ago.
  There are many issue's where lobbying is good but it has gotten to the point where the vast majority of issues don't pass the smell test.
Bill H. Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:22pm
Also, the US has the largest number of deductions and "back doors" available to corporations, thanks to (you guessed it!) lobbyists.
So effectively, tax rates for many companies are almost nil.
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:28pm
"The US has one of the lowest effective corporate tax rates in the world."
"Also, the US has the largest number of deductions and "back doors" available to corporations, thanks to (you guessed it!) lobbyists."
Same thing.
Why is there a corporate tax at all?  should be pass through to shareholders. Everything should be taxed like an s Corp or LLC.  Less regressive as not passed on to consumers.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 16, 2017 - 6:17am
Cliff, Bill and John;
I have no interest in getting in the weeds on tax policy, so please throw that example out.  The list of rules and regulations businesses must comply with in order to do business in this country is long and expensive.  If it were true that businesses are the ones dictating what politicians do, none of these rules and regulations would be in existence.  All I ask is for a fair fight; you have your lobbyists telling politicians to increase taxes and regulations and mine would like to move things in the other direction.  The arguments you guys are putting forward is that it’s perfectly OK silencing my lobbyists so that yours run roughshod over our government. 
The drug companies did a fabulous job of making a drug that relieves pain.  The sell this drug legally to pharmacies, as pharmacies are the only legal entity to sell it to the populace.  So unless your argument is that they bypassed this system, I fail how to see how they’re guilty of anything but making really good drugs.  How would you structure the administering of the buying and selling of opioids?  I’m curious to know, is any prominent politician blaming drug companies for the opioid epidemic?
Bill H. Added Jul 16, 2017 - 11:29am
"you have your lobbyists telling politicians to increase taxes and regulations"
I don't have any lobbyists. I am just a patriotic United States citizen who is upset with watching the scales tip the wrong way and the buying power for the average citizen deteriorate.
As I stated earlier, I support neither corrupt party.
Cliff M. Added Jul 16, 2017 - 5:07pm
Phil, The opioid crisis is a lot like the financial crisis. A whole lot of players getting fat with very questionable tactics.Everyone at fault with no one to blame.No one noticing rural pharmacies moving ten times the volume as the big outlets.Just like junk getting triple a ratings.
John Minehan Added Jul 16, 2017 - 5:38pm
"Everyone at fault with no one to blame."
Sometimes that is EXACTLY the legal result. 
In your example, the only ones with clear CRIMINAL liability are the Pharmacy IF they knowingly filled an improper 'scrip and any patients that knowingly presented such a 'scrip and possibly a doc who knowingly wrote an improper 'scrip.
Knowing a little about how healthcare compliance works, it is not unlikely that the first people to raise a red flag were either someone in sales or distribution from the manufacturer, maybe as part of a compliance program or possibly individually as  part of a Qui Tam action.
Ideally, we don't want to criminalize EVERYTHING in a society.    
Phil Greenough Added Jul 17, 2017 - 9:06am
It would appear we’ve hit an impasse. You keep saying the politicians are controlled by big business lobbyists and their money and I keep saying the politicians aren’t.  On my side of the argument are a plethora of rules no business desires.  Remind me, what have you presented to support your side?  Allow me to make my point one more time by highlighting a single rule no business would want…the Minimum Wage.  You tell me, if big business is pulling the strings of government, why do we have a Minimum Wage in this country?
You avoided my question.  Is there a single prominent politicians that believes the opioid epidemic is the fault of large pharmaceutical companies?
I don’t know where we got off on the wrong foot, but as of late, I agree with 100% of what you write. 
Cliff M. Added Jul 17, 2017 - 10:11am
Phil, Big pharma is one of politicians puppet masters and largest contributors. Why would any of them talk shit about them?
Cullen Kehoe Added Jul 17, 2017 - 8:58pm
Isn't the problem that lawmakers are ONLY listening to the lobbyists for businesses (with their campaign contributions) and not the people?
There's a famous case in 19th century Britain of arsenic-laced wallpaper. It started in the 1840's, beautiful wallpapers with vivid colors. But it was discovered in the 1850's that arsenic was used in these dyes, arsenic was poison, breathing it in wasn't going to be good for people, babies chewing on it could die; it was just bad. 
They even started putting in dresses, hats, all kinds of stuff. 
In France and Germany they outlawed it (sometime in the 1860's). In Britain, due to lobbying efforts of the wallpaper and color dye industry, and the general laissez-faire attitudes which were popular at the time, the British Parliament NEVER outlawed the arsenic dyes and wallpapers. 
Around the turn of the 20th century, consumers began choosing more healthy options and these wallpapers and dyes fell out of use. 
Interesting things like "Taking a trip to the seaside for the good air" became common phrases in the late 19th century in Britain. I wonder why....
How many got ill health and/or died as a result of these inactions of the government of the British Empire? 
Bill H. Added Jul 17, 2017 - 9:35pm
Good example. Patrick!
Dave Volek Added Jul 18, 2017 - 8:23am
Phil: Good article and followup comments. Big business does not always get its way with government. In fact, I would say it loses more battles than it wins. Otherwise there would be no unions, environmental laws, work safety laws, food safety regulations, etc., etc. etc. It's strange that other commentators cannot see this point.
In the early-1980s, I was travelling between Edmonton and St. John's quite often on oilfield work. One of my seatmates was a pilot for a small aviation company in northern Canada. He was just coming from a month in Ottawa. It seems that some new aviation legislation was being drafted that was to address some concerns about the aviation industry in Canada. Aviation in the south and between big cities is much different than aviation and the north--and the new rules designed for the south were to have great impact on the north.
For whatever reason, this company's local member of parliament was ineffective in getting the north's voice heard. So this pilot had to take one month off work to work the system in Ottawa to arrange for a half-hour meeting with the Minister of Transport to tell him of the north's concern of this new legislation.
Think of costs involved: hotel bills, restaurant bills, and loss of a pilot in the company's cockpit. Much cheaper to hire a lobbyist who knows the system to get that meeting arranged.
It's easy to see why there are lobbyists. I believe they perform an essential service.
And yes, the Looney Left has their fair share of lobbyists as well. They may not be as well funded, but they are probably more effective. But because they don't win every battle, they will claim the system is rigged against them.
Phil Greenough Added Jul 18, 2017 - 10:31am
I’ll be happy to answer your question after you answer mine, I did ask you first and I asked my question twice.
I think the problem is that lawmakers mostly listening to the lobbyists looking to harm businesses for the benefit of something/someone else.  I know nothing about wallpaper in Britain, but do concede the “people” were interested in wallpaper, the more vivid the better.
Blaming lobbyists for government inaction is a gigantic copout.  If the lawmakers knew wallpaper was dangerous, they only have themselves to blame for not doing something about it.  I suspect wallpaper wasn’t “laced” with arsenic and the facts behind your example are highly questionable.  However, assuming you’re right, there are consumer advocacy groups constantly suing businesses for alleged wrongs and lobbying.  Are you suggesting businesses lobbyists shouldn’t be able to defend their clients?
Thanks for that well-articulated example of why lobbyists are highly necessary.  For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think business lobbyists are as well-funded as those looking to harm them. 
Cliff M. Added Jul 18, 2017 - 7:37pm
Phil, Sanders just had a vote on a bill to let lower cost drugs to be imported from Canada. It narrowly lost 52-46 with bipartisan support from some conservative republicans.
Cullen Kehoe Added Jul 18, 2017 - 8:04pm
Those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it. 
At best I'd call corporate lobbyists a necessary evil. I'd hardly want to hug one. 
Phil Greenough Added Jul 19, 2017 - 6:57am
So to the question of “name one politicians that agrees with you about the culpability of drug companies to the opioid epidemic?” your response is, Bernie Sanders.  It’s Bernie Sanders because he wants it to be easier to buy cheaper drugs from Canada.  Wouldn’t that make the problem worse?
Your first link proved my point in spades.  It begins “Could this wallpaper kill you?”  In other words, even today there is a question as to whether or not the wallpaper killed anyone.  Notwithstanding the fact there is no way they had the scientific knowhow back then to say for sure how lethal it was.  It’s the same thing as lead paint alarmism today.  It’s dangerous but that’s only if you ingest it, which I means all this crap we go through over lead paint is for the rare instance it’s peeling off the wall and an infant is allowed to chew on it.
I’d also like to remind you that people wanted this product despite the concerns raised about its safeness.  So it’s not the wallpaper lobby alone or their money that kept this product on the shelf, despite concerns raised about its safety.
I’d also like to clarify something that I should have clarified in my article.  Even if there were no lobbyists, it’s still possible for money to go towards politicians or political causes.  All lobbyists do is provide lawmakers a representative from an interested party that carries some clout with that party.  So what would you prefer, lawmakers craft public policy with input from business and industry or without?
Cliff M. Added Jul 19, 2017 - 7:50pm
Phil, Yesterday the guy that created the drug oxycontin died at age 97 with a fortune amassed of $13 billion dollars. Also 91 people died and continue to die every day from the effects of this drug which was supposedly was safe and lobbied heavily for doctors to prescribe.
Cliff M. Added Jul 19, 2017 - 8:34pm
Phil, I found and interesting article while searching "Senators against big pharma". U.S. Senators Financially Enslave Americans as Indentured Servants to Big Pharma. By Mike Adams.Here's a few of his words;
  The real problem is that corporations are allowed to financially influence lawmakers in the first place. The lobbying and campaign finance structure allows law makers to be bought off easily and cheaply by corporate interest's. The law makers are easily corrupted by a system of corporate control that has turned the United States into a plutocracy.
  Government by the wealthy elite, where the corporations and government become one entity that exploits the productivity of the population to enrich the few.
  Many of our law makers have become adversaries of the people and are now openly fighting for the expansion of power and profit for the mega corporations while steam rolling the interest's and freedom's of the American people.

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