Influence on political and legal agendas must be either regulated, transparent or both.
The ability of wealth, power and money to control democratic precesses is otherwise almost unlimited. To quote 18th century political philosopher Charles de Montesquieu, “Constant experience show us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry is authority as far as it will go.” During the intervening 250 years money and power have continued to use their pervasive and litigious hold to influence even democratic governments contrary to the public interest.
“An examination of 75 think tanks found an array of researchers who had simultaneously worked as registered lobbyists, members of corporate boards or outside consultants in litigation and regulatory disputes, with only intermittent disclosure of their dual roles.” This from one of the leading groups of investigative reporters at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, a source worth reading regularly.
Solutions include the development of:
- a national consensus on the need to limit large institution influence
- regulations that break up the larger and most powerful organizations into smaller entities more accountable to smaller populations (regional or state)
- absolute mandates for transparency (amongst elected and non-elected officials — amongst all legal, lobbying and accounting groups — and all companies attempting to infulence legislation)
- short-term (18 to 24 month) timelines for national implementation, with provisions for non-compliance, limits on litigation and strong punitive provisions for non-compliance.
From novelist Patricia Cornwell, “the root of all evil is the abuse of power.”
An economic philosopher frequently quoted — and misinterpreted — by many political conservatives, “We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which may occasionally prevent its use for desirable purposes.”