Special Interests

Personal Opinion by Gaystoryman

Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reserved

When did Democracy become nothing more than catering to the needs of Special Interests? Like when did our Politicians stop worrying about what we thought, and began to only be concerned about which Special Interest Group had the most to offer?

Right now, it just seems like there are ĎSpecial Interest Groupsí for everything under the sun. You have the ĎTobacco Lobby, Oil Lobby, Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture Lobby, Hi Tech Lobby, Airline Industry Lobbyí and on and on it goes, but when did we, the Voters, allow this to happen? Is it a natural progression of Democracy, or is it perhaps that we have made Elections too expensive?

Have our own needs forced these groups to compete and thus take power out of our control?

Everyone wants to be heard it seems, but the one group that matters the most.  The People.

Frankly I donít understand it anymore. This drive for corporate profits has gone far beyond simply wanting to be rich, or to have nice things. It has gone to the point where ethics, morality are all left far behind, and the only thing that matters is the amount of wealth one can accumulate. Now donít get me wrong, Iíd like to have some of those things too.

But at what cost?

I mean look at advertising today. We are bombarded with new and improved this and that, but are they? Is there any truth in advertising anymore, or has that gone by the wayside as well. Used to be, that when a company made a claim, they had to back it up. Government agencies insisted on it, and investigated the claims without the need for consumer complaints. Yet today no such thing exists. Advertisers seem to claim anything they want, and so what if it isnít true, not like there is a Government agency that is going to fine them or make them take the product off the shelves.

So we have Truth gone from advertising. And I can hear it now where some will say oh but some of it is true. Yeah, well half a truth is still a lie. Truth is just that, true. You can bitch that one and one should be three or four, but the simple truth is that one and one makes two. You canít equivocate on that, it is a simple fact, a truth.

What is the truth about Tide Laundry detergent? Does it indeed make clothes whiter and brighter? If so, compared to what? Old Tide, or all the other cleaning agents?

How about simple labels that tell you where a product comes from? I mean how hard is it to expect that we are told where something is made? Yet the Cattle Industry Lobby has worked hard to alter the meaning of ĎProduct of the USA í and I wonder, why?

The current law, says that cattle born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the USA can be Labeled as USA BEEF, yet the industry wants to label cattle born in Canada, slaughtered in Mexico and shipped to the USA, where fat content is added, to also carry that designation. Like what part is USA then, but the powerful Beef Lobby has forced that law to be held back.

How does that benefit you and me?

Isnít the role of Government supposed to be to govern, to insure that laws are fair and applied equally to all citizens? Isnít it the role of Government to provide safe food and drugs and goods for our consumption, through setting of standards? So how does watering down those standards to the point where they are a danger to our health, our very lives even, meet that criteria?

Drug companies are forced to tell us about possible side effects, but do they? Oh sure, you hear a list of possible but rare side effects, yet look at the whole mess with Avandia. Reports showing it posed a danger are held by the Government Agency for years, before any warning is issued.

How does that protect us?

As more goods are imported into our countries, agencies are being cut. Labs that test the safety of products, of goods, are closed down, and we turn to private industry to monitor its own products. Like that works really good. Take the presence of lead in so many children toys and outfits. The recalls keep mounting, but is it because the company finds the levels or is it because concerned citizens do?

Mattel with over 18 million toy recalls just in the month of July/August 2007 and you have to wonder, how many slipped through before then? Worse, as more and more cheap toys are outsourced to China and elsewhere, how many millions more will slip through unnoticed?

Tires from China that explode while you are driving. Fish that has unsafe levels of all sorts of nasty stuff that took forever to ban. Trade Envoyís who proclaim that only 10% of their countryís exports are harmful. Do the math. If they export 100 billion items, that means 10 billion are unsafe!

Yet the toy lobby, the manufacturing lobby all proclaim we need more free trade. Government leaders meet in secret with big business to discuss easing trade restrictions between nations, and all for what? Increased profits but for whom?

Do you and I get more money? Is the price of what we buy any cheaper today, with all these free trade accords? How about toys. Have you been shopping for any lately? I mean I used to have Mattel Matchbox cars when I was a kid. I paid 49 cents to 69 cents for them. Take a look at the price today, where it is several dollars. Yet they arenít anywhere near the quality that they used to be, and we are happy about this?

This is progress?

I am no different than you or anyone else. I love a bargain, and I hate paying high prices, but when the cheap shit lasts for a tenth of the time as the good stuff, when the cheap stuff can kill you or retard your child, is cheap really all that cheap?

I donít mind any industry trying to be heard and put forth their own agendas. I do object to where Government listens exclusively to them, ignoring the needs of the people who hired them. And that really is what it is about. You and I, when we vote for this or that politician are actually HIRING them to represent us. We shouldnít need a seat at any table where Big Business, Labor, or Religion sit at. We should be sitting there, by those people from Government.  They donít work for Big Business, or the Religious Right even. They work for you and me, even if we voted for someone else.

Call me crazy, but I have this odd notion that a person seeking to be my Member of Parliament, has to represent my needs, and protect my interests. Yes, he/she should listen to the agendas by other groups, to see what impact the legislation will have, but bottom line has to be that any legislation has to benefit ME, and all those others like ME.

If bringing in cheap labor will reduce the wage levels for those Canadians seeking employment, but improve the corporate profits for the Oil Industry, it is incompetent upon the government to REFUSE those cheap foreign workers from being employed. Even if that Oil Industry is a major contributor, the job of governing dictates that simple logic.

While Stephen Harper and George Bush meet (August 20/21 2007 in Montebello ) where Harper will try to find a way to increase foreign Mexican labor for the Oil Industry, we do need to protest. Not because we oppose Mexico , but because we are Canadians, and our Government is elected to look out for our Interests. Something most politicians these days seem to forget.

They are too busy accepting free trips to the Bahamas , or golf dates at exclusive clubs. They are busy shopping, at lobbyist expense, at Tiffanyís instead of passing legislation to improve fuel efficiency in cars, because they donít have to pay for the gas their limousines use, you and I do though.

I suppose we get disheartened, or maybe we are just lazy. I donít know, but each election, less people vote and as less vote, the lobbyists seem to grow. Corporate profits seem to explode upwards, as we sit at home bitching about the Government. We go shopping at Wal-Mart and are stunned to find nothing made in the USA or Canada .

We see recall notices, or worse, experience the effects of no government protection as our pets die from tainted pet food. We cry out, angry but when it comes time to vote, we sit at home. Somehow, that just seems wrong, perhaps as wrong as it is for politicians to forget that they work for US, the People.

Just as wrong as it is that we forget that WE HIRE or FIRE these politicians, not the Special Interest Groups like the Religious Right, The Cattle Industry, the Oil Industry. These politicians WORK FOR US, but we have abdicated that task to unknown corporate executives who make millions of dollars. After all, they must know more than us, because look at all the money they have.

Only problem with that, is they have that wealth, at our expense and at the expense of Truth, Justice, Morality, and Ethics. Those arenít role models I want to look up to, nor are they type of people I want to decide what is good for me or not.

I think it is time we stopped staying home on election day. I think it is time we took back our country, and elected representatives based on their record, their platforms. If they want to tell us how bad the other guy is, then we should ignore them to find someone who will tell us what they will do, not what someone else wonít do. I want a politician who will want to raise the bar, not keep on lowering it. I donít want some yes man, some paid off stooge to work for me.

I want someone with a vision, with a passion for his job, which is to represent all of us, not just those who pay huge sums into his party coffers. I want a person who will demand that we raise our standards, that will support our safety, even if it means refusing new trade accords.

I want someone who will stand up for Canada , not someone who will only stand up for Special Interest Groups. I want someone who believes that a country is made up of diverse peoples, not multi national corporations. I want a leader who will defy the lobbyists, even if it means less campaign funds.

Give me that, and I will forgive a lot, give me that, and Iíll be happy to stand in line and vote for them. I can handle the truth, donít lie to me. I can manage to accept higher prices, if you can show me that it is safer. I can live with high gas prices even, if you can show me that down the road it will cost me less. That down the road you will insure that vehicles will be more fuel efficient, less polluting. But donít feed me slop, tell me its good for me, when it isnít.

When you talk about the needs of the many, donít mean the needs of the shareholders, but mean the majority of citizens you represent. When you talk about special interests, you better be talking about the needs of those who are less fortunate than some, not about some rich over pampered corporate executive.

If a business needs more labor, then make sure our education system is capable of generating those type of employees. Donít go running to bring in cheap labor, just to satisfy some corporate donation to your campaign.

Give me all that, and Iíll give you my vote.