Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

September 19, 2006

Capitol Crimes: The Land of Lobby

What kind of changes do you think need to happen when it comes to lobbying in America that would help level the playing field for all those interested in being heard by government?

Print the class


Backgrounder: The Land of Lobby
Political folklore has it that the term "lobbying" originated during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, when, brandy in one hand, cigar in the other, the former general would plant himself in the lobby of his favorite hotel and wait for the public to come offering and asking for favors ... [more]

Class Is in Session...

Over the past five years, the number of lobbyists in Washington has doubled to nearly 35,000; the yearly amount spent on lobbying has increased by nearly a billion dollars to $2.3 billion; and today more than 230 former congressmen, now lobbyists, continue walk the halls of the Hill, attempting to influence the way current congressmen vote. Is there too much lobbying going on? What happens to democracy when so much money and effort are poured into selling the agendas of special interests to our elected officials?

"Congress has always had, and always will have, lobbyists and lobbying," says former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd. "We could not adequately consider our workload without them." But he also stresses the need for vigilance. "The history of this institution demonstrates the need for eternal vigilance to ensure that lobbyists do not abuse their role, that lobbying is carried on publicly with full publicity, and that the interests of all citizens are heard without giving special ear to the best organized and most lavishly funded."

To be clear, not all lobbyists represent big business, not all of them are Abramoff-style operator and not all of them toe the line between legality and criminal corruption. In fact, most lobbyists are respectable folks legitimately conveying the interests of organized groups to those whose actions and votes have an effect on the way we live in America. They may represent churches, universities, charities, senior citizens groups or environmental concerns, or they may represent Enron or the Northern Mariana Islands. Basically, a lobbyist's job is to persuade lawmakers to view an issue in their clients' interest and will urge them to vote in a way that benefits their clients, whether that means more federal research contracts for a college in a congressman's district, more affordable drug prescriptions for the elderly or bigger tax loopholes for corporations.

For years, the reality has been that people must organize in order to have their voices heard in politics. From the very early days of Congress, citizens have joined together in order to lobby with greater efficacy: The representatives of shipwrights lobbied lawmakers on the effects of tariffs; merchants' lobbyists pushed for an end to the tax on molasses; federal clerks requested an increase in pay; military officers sought reimbursement for personal funds expended during the Revolution. In short, individuals with common interests banded together and selected someone to plead their case before Congress, the White House or any other body that had the power to influence the situation. And so lobbying became an efficacious and accepted form of political activity. (Read a history from lobbying from the U.S. Senate.)

Bill Moyers talked with Thomas Frank, author of WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS: HOW CONSERVATIVES WON THE HEART OF AMERICA and Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and long-time Washington observer about the particular problems exhibited by the Abramoff scandal, and the general problems that perplex a political and campaign system that runs on money — a great deal of money. Ornstein is particuarly troubled by the "earmarking" process in which representatives can use a legislative manuever, without great oversight, to steer federal appropraitions monies to pet projects...and possibly to campaign contributors. (You can learn more about earmarks in the "Fixing the System" Citizens Class.) Watch the video

You can find out how much money is being spent to lobby for the things you care about. Take a look here OpenSecrets.org to find out if you are being represented by a lobbyist in Congress. To see how many lobbyists are working in your state legislature, visit Public Integrity. Amazingly, in Washington, there are approximately 65 lobbyists for each member of the House.

By law, all registered lobbyists working on the Hill are required to publicly disclose which issues and bills they have worked on-in recent years, less than half of lobbyists have filed their disclosure forms in a timely manner, if at all. Increased scrutiny by both the public and oversight agencies could help the situation — especially in the age of the Internet. Watchdog groups fault the House for lagging behind the Senate. which maintains a broadly searchable database of electronic images of lobbying forms. [Read the report and find out about additional reform efforts.]

Big Money and Big Problems

There is no doubt: Lobbying is big business and it's growing. And choosing the right lobbyist can be very lucrative. For a relatively small investment in a lobbying campaign, corporations can receive a gargantuan return. THE WASHINGTON POST reported that one lobbying firm, the Carmen Group, calculated that for every $1 million its clients spend on its services, it delivers, on average, $100 million in government benefits.

Lobbyists and their firms contribute heaps of cash to political campaigns, attend or host fundraisers and even act as fundraisers and campaign treasurers themselves. According to the Center for Public Integrity, since 1998, nearly 80 members of Congress have tapped congressional lobbyists to serve as treasurers of their campaign committees and as leaders of their political action committees. Says Common Cause, "lobbyists raise campaign funds because they want to become indispensable to people in power, knowing that the service they perform will be rewarded by the access and influence they gain."

The following figures give a good idea of just how interlocking the worlds of politics and lobbying are:

  • 232 former members of Congress are now registered lobbyists.

  • Nearly 40 members of Congress retain lobbyists as treasurers of their re-election campaigns or political action committees.

  • 12 former registered lobbyists have been hired to work in various offices of the White House, sometimes formulating public policy about the various issues they once lobbied.

  • More than 1,300 registered lobbyists have personally given more than 1.8 million to George Bush over the last six years
The Revolving Door

Another issue of concern is the number of congressional staffers, executive staffers and former members of Congress taking highly lucrative jobs as lobbyists. According to a study by Public Citizen, 43 percent of eligible members of Congress who left office since 1998 have become lobbyists. During that same period, 273 former White House staffers also registered as lobbyists. While some see this as a logical move into a position where they can best apply their skills, it also raises concerns that tenure in Congress is just a stepping-stone toward a highly paid job as a lobbyist. In convincing Rep. Robert W. Ney not to run for re-election, House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) reportedly told Ney that if he lost his House seat for the party, he could not expect a lucrative career on K Street-the avenue of the lobbyists.

Even though there is a one-year moratorium on taking a job as a lobbyist, members of Congress and staff often bypass the moratorium by joining lobbying firms as advisors and not registered lobbyists. Common Cause has called for an increase in the moratorium from one year to two years, and to expand the definition of lobbying. The plea agreements of both Congressman Bob Ney and his former Chief of Staff Neil Volz cite violations of the one-year waiting period. [Read the report and the Ney plea agreement (PDF).]

While "Capitol Crimes" looked primarily at the abuses perpetrated by Jack Abramoff, there have been at least half a dozen other politicians and lobbyists tainted by lobbying scandals this year alone. And with the large pot of lobby money, the growing cost of campaigns, the and lawmakers willing to trade favors for funding, it seems likely that-barring a major ethics overhaul-this kind of behavior will continue.

Discussion:

  • You’ve watched the documentary and read the accompanying materials. Come up with three government or lobbying reform ideas that if they had been instituted before the Abramoff scandal would have prevented it.
  • Take a pro and con position about lobbying: when is it a necessary part of the democratic process, when does it harm the democratic process? Can you envision a healthy democratic system without some form of organized lobbying?
  • What kind of changes do you think need to happen when it comes to lobbying in America that would help level the playing field for all those interested in being heard by government?

Print the class

Comments

You’ve watched the documentary and read the accompanying materials. Come up with three government or lobbying reform ideas that if they had been instituted before the Abramoff scandal would have prevented it.

Take a pro and con position about lobbying: when is it a necessary part of the democratic process, when does it harm the democratic process? Can you envision a healthy democratic system without some form of organized lobbying?

What kind of changes do you think need to happen when it comes to lobbying in America that would help level the playing field for all those interested in being heard by government?

I don't see how you can have a "democratic" system if those with the money and access can hire people to "persuade" our legislators to see things they way their clients prefer. I understand that our congress- people don't have time to study every issue in depth, and they rely on lobbyists to interpret the facts and tell them how they should vote. I further understand that many line their pockets, or accept perks from these same lobbyists, or at the very least bend their principles to stay in the game. This is not democracy. It should be immediately stopped.

I don't see how you can have a "democratic" system if those with the money and access can hire people to "persuade" our legislators to see things they way their clients prefer. I understand that our congress- people don't have time to study every issue in depth, and they rely on lobbyists to interpret the facts and tell them how they should vote. I further understand that many line their pockets, or accept perks from these same lobbyists, or at the very least bend their principles to stay in the game. This is not democracy. It should be immediately stopped. The peope of the US could have a government more concerned with the welfare of it's citizens by having an open Parliamentary Democracy rather than a closed 2 party system. Governments who are not so closely party alligned, are more flexible, get more imput from more varied points of view and are a natural check on the "majority party' since they have the power to form blocks (alliances) to oppose and control the overuse of power.
Yes, it's slower, but only the rich benefit from haste. Legislators need more time and more real dialog between them, not just in alligned caucuses, but in open debate.

Unfortunately we have the best government can buy, and it's really to bad.

It's clear, we can't live with them and without them. Like ants, they always show up at a picnic and you can never rid them from a sugar factory. Problem is, lobbying is done in the dark of democracy, out of sight and oversight. And it's just 'not my job' to check up on them tonight. So, let's shine a light in the cracks and set a few traps just the same. A little regulation would go a long way - say requiring lobbyists to issue something like an annual, 'corporate balance sheet' along with an ethics and accountability statement - placed in the public record. Let's be sure they lobby for and are consistent with this country's principles first.

I think we could live without lobbyists. I see them more as termites than as ants, because they can undermine the structure of democracy.

It is Congress that needs lobbyists, and that is because they have too much power and have to spend all their time raising money instead of studying issues.

A combination of publicly-financed elections and a more decentralized structure would help a lot. By decentralized, I mean less of a representative form of government, and more of a direct or participatory democracy.

Such a change really wouldn't be any more difficult that it was for Americans to switch from horses and buggies to cars. When there's a better way of doing something, we usually have little problem adapting to it.

Response to comment by Mark E. Smith

Mark,

I know from an earlier comment about the Internet and community connections that you are a senior citizen concerned about affordable broadband. I raise that issue because it seems like organizations that lobby on behalf of senior citizens (like the American Association of Retired Persons) would be a valuable voice in Washington on behalf of your concerns. They are an agency that educates Congress about the implications of policy decisions on retired people. In fact many organizations that represent underserved or "voiceless" people have lobbying efforts to educate policy-makers. How do we maintain that valuable service that can benefit citizens and policy-makers while eliminating the corrupting influence we saw in Capitol Crimes?

Also, could you share more about what a participatory democracy would look like and how we might achieve that goal?

Taylor Willingham
Moderator

I think that lobbyists should only be allowed to present an informed opinion to Congress. If a senator were voting on an issue relavant to his/her constituency, he or she could call on the lobby for the group's viewpoint. If the lobby represents a large portion of the electorate, the Congress-person would be obliged to listen, otherwise not. Money should be taken out of the process altogether.

I think we have to look at other countries in Europe with democratic system that works and serves the greater good without lobbyists.

follow the money and you will find the corruption.

if we can spend xxx billion per month in a falsified conflict. why can't we fully fund our election process? tax the priveliged regardless of "connections" or tantrums thrown. and, require that the media outlets provide free time for all candidates.
simple right??? oh! for action on social issues (healthcare and social security) make them swim with all the fishes.... take away the lifetime benefits!!!!!!! ridiculous that they were ever granted.

I believe many of our perceived problems with our elected officials are a direct result of the exorbitant cost of campaigning, money raised to pay for (often false) advertising on the "public air waves." Potential ways to eliminate this problem might be: (1) single terms for all elected officials (this leaves open the possibility of lengthening these single terms somewhat) and (2) limiting advertising on the air and in printed matter by reminding these public information carriers of their forgotten responsibilities to carry public messages for free. Carriers would be obligated to allocate the same amount of time to each candidate/proposition. This approach would definitely limit the effect constantly repeated lies can have on the public brain.

There are actually some good progressive lobbies on the Hill. I have been part of lobbying efforts to get a Peace Tax Fund bill passed, and efforts to curb military spending and nuclear proliferation. Of course none of these lobbying groups have any kind of budget so to speak. What I'm suggesting is this...to lobby Congress about a bill or an idea for legislation that's needed is quite alright. In fact it's a cornerstone of our "democracy". But when lobbyists are paid big bucks and when political favors are done, whether it's large cash donations or golf trips, or whatever...that all should be against the law.

The first rule in detective work is "Follow the money" (omitting crimes of passion)... which someone alluded to above.

Someone else nearly said that we have the best government money can buy (and its not very good). This recalls the title of investigative reporter Greg Palast's book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy"... a book every American would do well to read and think about.

What does all this have to do with lobbiests? Palast was responsible for uncovering the worst lobby-related scandal in England (and he's an American). The story of that is in his book.

(No, I'm not Greg Palast)

Public financing of campaigns is imperative. It will reduce politicians' licit need for money and reintroduce the spectre of bribery to those interactions which influence legislation. Inherent in public campaign finance is the requirement, in exchange for license, of free air time from those who use the nation's airwaves. Broadcasters loathe this idea, the same broadcasters by which the concerned public feels informed.

this might have been said some where along the line...but I think it's an idea that might just be too simple to ever get play.... equal free Radio and TV time for all those running for office....
Any other spending must be limited....and equal...otherwise lets be real and understand that those with the most money win....and the rest of us lose.
Also we have to consider limiting term served to one 4 year period, this way an official can actually get some work done for the people and not spend 98% of his time running for re-election....
When guys start spending millions of dollars to get elected to a post that pays
nada you just got to wonder what's it all about Alfie?
I also like the idea of only being able to elect females for the next 100 years....now that's a cool idea coming from Ted Turner

I am no longer even slightly surprised at the blatent greed displayed by those in power. The huge sums spent, extorted, and amassed by already wealthy Republicans using Jesus as their Lord and Savior to allay any criticism have necessitated huge tax penalties on those who are least able to afford them. I am an unhappy victim of a government now desperately grasping for funds to support its ridiculous extravagence.

I think the issue of lobbying and government goes deeper than the discussion questions. I think Moyers himself framed it in the dialogue with Ornstein and Frank: Where's the moral compass? If money is what demagnetizes the moral compass, as Frank put it, then we must come up with ways to track the money even more stringently than we do now. Then we must enact genuine penalties for misuse of the money and make those penalties stick. And voters must learn how to track the money themselves and to demand that their representatives account for every dime.

I also think that getting rid of earmarks, or finding better ways to track earmarks and their sponsors, would contribute to this. Like Anne Jones, as a Christian I am sickened by the way Tom Delay and others have perverted the Christian faith to gain and hold on to power. These guys obviously don't read their Bibles, because Jesus was never on the side of the wealthy and powerful. The W&P were those of whom Jesus said "it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven."

PS I live in Texas, and nothing will make me happier than for that son-of-a-buck Delay to have a long vacation in jail.

I am not surprised at what went on and is probably still going on. But what baffles me the most is the religious fervor that is behind these atrocities. What do these people think religion is for? So someone tell us what to do! I think we need the spirit of Ïmpeach Nixon" to move these bloodsucking slugs out of government

While I recognize that there are lobbyists for more positive things than that portrayed in Capitol Crimes, I'm certain the definition of "positive" depends on who's in power. I think the only way that democracy can really exist is to ban all lobbyists from all forms of government: national, state and local.

Please provide information regarding any funds received by Ralph Reed from Abramoff etc. that funneled its way to Dr. Dobson and the Focus on the Familiy Ministry; and provide response from Dobson.

I can't believe that the American people are stupid enough to reelect any incumbent in light of the level of corruption in our government.

I am sure that if we dug deep enough, the same type of "lobbying" activities going on at the state and local level as well. In addition, this excellent show only looked at the lobbying going in Congress, what about the rest of the Federal bureaucracy???

Throw the bums out of office before it's too late. Challenge those who are running for Congress and the Senate for full disclosure of their campaign financal records. Who are they representing - you or some corporation from half-way around the world or maybe some PAC or special interest group?

The worse part of this whole scandal is that it has been for the most part overlooked. Why? Because the media and in particular the broadcast media are as corrupt as the politicians and their hands are tied because of the commercialization of the newsmedia!!!

I believe we should look into a combination of publicly financed campaigns and free radio and T.V. time. Most people's reaction to that idea is they do not want to fund a politican's campaign. But if knew how much they pay in the form of huge subsidies to the oil, farm and other such industries, they would see that publicly financed campaigns are much cheaper. Our elected officials could spend more time governing and less time chasing money. For those that believe term limits are a solution, I can tell you that idea is a disaster! Michigan's house and senate is full of unexperienced, partisan want to be statesmen. It takes time to build bi-partisan relationships. Also, there is no way to hold someone accountable for reckless decisions because everyone is gone within a few years.

I belive it time we put it to a vote at every level of government on campaign amount contributions. Not allowing for front companies or backdoor monies seeping into their hands. These companies need to be displayed to the public and to constituants for approval. I've attepmted to look up the finacial returns for Charlie Crist(Candidate for Gov.,Fl)and could not find any disclousures ?, lobbying ties or Special Interest ties. Why is this so...Your show tonight on capital crimes is what Americans need to hear about more often. Hopefully, hearing about these peoples actions prior to them being elected,during their campaigns and then on to accountability.

I agree with the person that said..."I think that lobbyists should only be allowed to present an informed opinion to Congress. If a senator were voting on an issue relavant to his/her constituency, he or she could call on the lobby for the group's viewpoint. If the lobby represents a large portion of the electorate, the Congress-person would be obliged to listen, otherwise not. Money should be taken out of the process altogether."
Take the money out and there would be no need to "follow it". I'm also appalled that so many of these crooks hind behind a cloak of "religion"... they don't have a clue what religion means. When will the evalgelicals in this country wake up to this charade, and realize they have been and are still being used!!

FROM THE MODERATOR: QUESTIONS FROM THE ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
(Complete transcript of show and roundtable)

In the roundtable discussion following the Capitol Crimes documentary, Bill Moyers engaged in a lively discussion with Thomas Frank an historian and author of WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?: HOW CONSERVATIVES WON THE HEART OF AMERICA, and Norman Ornstein a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author with Thomas Mann of THE BROKEN BRANCH: HOW CONGRESS IS FAILING AMERICA AND HOW TO GET IT BACK ON TRACK.

Both men expressed deep concerns about the state of Congress. Norman Ornstein who calls himself "somebody who loves Congress" despairs at watching "the body descend to these depths at a time when the country's at a crossroads in so many ways..." saying that it leaves him shaking. He even goes so far as to say that we are victims particularly in the ways that policies are made and the "lousy" policies that result because the people who are running government don't care.

Thomas Frank uses equally strong language when he points out the disturbing, rank hypocrisy of Tom DeLay. He too asserts that "not caring" is at the heart of these troubles and that "the really creepy thing is going to be the aftermath to this, three years, four years, five years down the road."

When Bill Moyers presses them by asking if this isn't really just more of the same as we've seen in the past, they both insist that the current circumstances are different.

QUESTION: Are things different now? Are the problems and the level of corruption we are seeing somehow different and deeper? What is the basis for your opinion?


On one hand members of Congress need to know the concerns and interests of both industries and the people who elected them. On the other hand access to our Congressmen need not be an assurance of support obtained by a check to a campaign fund or political organization. Mr. Moyer’s program underscores two old adages “Money is power” & “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. To this end will our government ever be immune?

We have raised two generations of citizens who have the following beliefs:
1. I am not to blame for anything - it's someone else's fault.
2. Rules are made to be broken. Whatever I want to do in the name of 'a business decision' is OK.
3. The end justifies the means!
4. If you can get the government to pay for it, it's OK. They owe you!
Unless and until ethics are reclaimed by the American family and children are raised to accept responsibility for their decisions and actions we will keep on walking down the same old road.

If "money is speech", then large corporations and wealthy citizens get to speak very loudly indeed. So how are the rest of us to be heard?

I have two ideas.

Here is my one idea:

Tax every lobbying organization 50% of every dollar they spend on or contribute to politicians. With the money raised from this fund, allow individual citizens to travel to Washington, buy a meal with his or her members of congress, and put new ideas on the table. We citizens could also apply for such money to do research and run television, radio, or web-based communications for our government and our fellow citizens to see.

Here is my second idea:
Outlaw lobbyists from contributing money to politicians and require them to meet only in our government offices, each equipped with a 24-hour video camera and recorder so that every word can be monitored in the same way that our private speech is now subject to review by our security agencies.

Any takers?

Government by the people.
Many here have great ideas on how to address this issue short term. Long term there has to be a better way, or some in the government will always find a way to act in their own self-serving interests. Can we all agree that an electronic democracy has potential to give a majority of citizens a direct voice into how our country is run? Can we lessen the power of the few (congressmen and lobbyists) and return it to the people? Give us the power to matter, and we'll do right by this nation.

The "game" that is being played in D.C. must change. The referees are now very much and very personally "invested" in the "game". They are now swaying the "game" TO FIRST BENEFIT THEMSELVES AND THOSE WITHIN THEIR CLOSE CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE. They have FORGOTTEN WHAT AND WHO THEY SERVE. It is also very much like when KING ARTHUR ....ALMOST COMPLETELY LOST THE KINGDOM.....because of the EXTREME SELFISHNESS...OF HIS CO-LEADERS/PROTECTORS OF THE KINGDOM.....only when a courageous KNIGHT-TO-BE ....sought THE TRUTH....THROUGH THE SYMBOLIC PURSUIT OF THE HOLY GRAIL...that the KINGDOM was RE-ESTABLISHED BACK TO IT'S ORIGINAL DESIGN. This challenge that we now face is very much a multi-faceted one....the solution is not a "key"...but more like a "COMBINATION LOCK". And it will take the COMMITTED, COORDINATED EFFORT OF A STRONG-TEAM. At the heart of it all IS THE ISSUE OF ETHICS. It seems that YES, many members of our government have become corrupted by and through THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THE GAME...AS IT HAS EXISTED FOR SEVERAL DECADES NOW. The paradox IS ....IT HAS BECOME VERY MUCH LIKE..."THE FOX WATCHING THE CHICKEN COOP"...in that the members of our government HAVE MADE SURE THAT WHATEVER DECISIONS THEY MAKE AND ACTIONS THEY TAKE ENSURE THEIR "SECURITY", "LONGETIVITY", "INFLUENCE" AND "POWER"....IN THE "GAME" FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. That includes PASSING THE "POWER" ONTO THEIR CHILDREN. So, now, it has become GENERATIONAL. This corruption has many, many ARMS AND LEGS into and through MANY DIFFERENT PARTS OF OUR GOVERNMENT. Those GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS THAT ARE CHARGED WITH OVERSEEING THE "PUBLIC-GOOD" ARE DEFAULTING THEIR "PUBLIC-TRUST" TO THE MULTI-FACETED INFLUENCES OF OUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND SENATE....AND FROM BOTH PARTIES. The FDA is NOT looking out for THE PUBLIC GOOD....BUT THOSE OF THE "CORPORATE POWER GROUP"....which includes but is NOT limited to BIG PHARMA. The FTC is also tied into this.....as is also THE FOOD CONGLOMERATES. There are many "BEHIND-CLOSED-DOORS" POWER MEETINGS GOING ON....AND "WE THE PEOPLE" are NOT in on it. The DEALS that are being made are being enacted to BENEFIT THE DESIRES OF THE FEW AT THE EXPENSE OF THE NEEDS OF THE MANY. And these deals are deep and entangled....like a puzzle where-in one affects the other and they are inextricably tied to one another. Now we are in a WAR where the SUBCONTRACTORS....benefit FROM BOTH THE DESTRUCTION....AND....THE REBUILDING OF IRAQ. AND AT WHAT COST...? Now, approximately 500 BILLION DOLLARS has been spent. And the BILL WILL COME BACK TO "WE THE PEOPLE"....all, behind the "mask" (maya) and in the name of OVERZEALOUS PROMOTION OF "DEMOCRACY"...and the pursuit of GOING AFTER "EVIL" (the EVIL-doers). IT IS A SMOKE-SCREEN TO COVER UP THE PATHOLOGICAL PURSUIT OF MONEY AND POWER. And those in power are "SO RIGHT" about what they are doing...AS THEY PROMOTE AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN THEIR SELF-DELUSIONAL "GRANDEUR" . Meanwhile, THEY HAVE LOST THE PURPOSE AND MEANING OF WHAT THEY ARE IN WASHINGTON FOR AND WHO THEY SERVE. And they have become so INSULATED AND COMFORTABLE AND PROSPEROUS WITHIN THE SELF-SERVING WALLS OF THEIR "GAME" INSIDE "THE GAME" THAT THEY HAVE BECOME INSENSITIVE AND SOME EVEN CALLOUS TO THE NEEDS AND WELL-BEING OF THE COMMON MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN THE "COMMUNITY" OF OUR NATION.
YES, it's time for "GAME OVER"....IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE. It will take someone with much courage and integrity TO SEE AND SEEK THE TRUTH and swim against the current TO RETURN TO THE "PLACE" (perspective) FROM WHICH DEMOCRACY WAS SPAWNED.
We need to get the MONEY-INFLUENCE-PEDDLERS OUT OF OUR LEADERSHIP IN WASHINGTON....OR THEY WILL MAKE WASTE OF OUR GREAT POTENTIAL.

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today....he would most likely .....BE CALLING FOR A REVOLUTION.

...maybe now the religious right will recognize how they have been duped, like the Indian Tribes, to fulfill the right wing agenda of benefiting Corporate America to the exclusion of the American people. Naa, probably not-!

Yes, I do think the level of corruption is deeper and different. From newpaper accounts to the many books written on the subject..is seems to me that since the Bush Administration has been in office and both houses are ruled by republicans...there is no one guarding the gates. It seems that the "party" expects their fellow republicans to do anything to bring down democrats, no matter what the moral or monetary cost is...and it's so out in the open. Even when they're caught...there's no remorse or apology...only spin.
I'm sure some republican will read this and say it's just a partisan remark..but, I'm sure if you take a close look at the numbers...you will see it's true. You have to hand it to Carl Rove...he came up with a plan and they're sticking to it!!

Could the The National Initiative for Democracy be a vehicle with which to start the big change? The website appears to describe a way to allow the people to make laws via initiatives. What we ultimately need is an electronic townhall - hmmm, has that idea been suggested previously in history? Switzerland has the right idea...

I believe that any individual or business has the right to discuss with Congress laws that will impact them for better or worse. There is not enough wisdom (even in the best of times)in Congress to write laws in a vacuum. Lobby influences in Congress must be cut back substantially. The lobby should be given an amount of time to spend with a representative which ought to be documented. Nothing else should be given to a representative.

What we have is no longer a Representative Democracy, but a Plutocracy plain and simple. Rule of, for, and by the rich. What layman can possibly complete for office without the vast quantities of financial resources the victors always seem to have? In nearly every Congressional, Senate, or Presidential race, the winner is the one who has outspent the loser. Level the playing field so others may have a chance, and you may see things begin to change.

Lobbying should be done in an open forumn like a committee. And televised. I don't think you'd have the corruption and it would weed out alot of pork.

This is the most disgusting thing I have ever witnessed.

In the name of their "god", if they've a hell, every last man jack of them will be spending eternity in it.

SOME POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

these are just a few ideas...

OPEN UP THE AIRWAVES
Take the INFLUENCE-MONEY-PEDDLERS out of the election process BY ALLOCATING PUBLIC CHANNEL(S) ON THE PUBLIC AIRWAVES FOR EACH CANDIDATE TO PRESENT HIS/HER PERSPECTIVES AND IDEAS.

OPEN UP THE PARTY SYSTEM FOR TRUE CHOICE.

With a TWO-PARTY system, OUR ELECTION PROCESS BECOMES A DICHOTOMY...and WE-THE-PEOPLE, in-turn become a NATION OF BLACK-OR-WHITE. True choice doesn't even begin to happen UNTIL YOU HAVE AT LEAST THREE, PREFERABLY FIVE TO CHOOSE FROM. (we have been watching this BACK-AND-FORTH TENNIS MATCH FOR FAR TOO LONG...IS IT REALLY EFFECTIVE...???) We could have 3 PRIMARY ISSUE-PARTIES and 2 SECONDARY ISSUE-PARTIES. Instead of ONE candidate trying to be ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE (impossible)....EACH CANDIDATE COULD STAND FOR ONE MAJOR ISSUE. WE-THE-PEOPLE could then VOTE ON/FOR ISSUES....not PERSONALITIES OR PARTIES. Through a predetermined process WE COULD ELECT THE PERSON BEST SUITED FOR THE MAJOR ISSUE WE WANT TO ADDRESS....AND THEN WE WOULD VOTE ON 2 SECONDARY ISSUES (that would support OUR MAIN ISSUE OF CONCERN) AND WE WOULD ELECT 2 PERSONS WHO ARE BEST SUITED TO DEAL WITH THOSE ISSUES...AND THEY WOULD BOTH ACT IN THE POSITION OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT. So each election term we would be focusing on 3 TOP PRIORITY ISSUES out of 5 PRIORITY ISSUES. (yes, there are sub-categories that fall under, support and surround each PRIORITY ISSUE. And yes, THE PRESIDENT AND VICE -PRESIDENTS would then assemble his/her own TEAM THAT SUPPORTS HIS/HER PRIORITY-ISSUE-FOCUS. So, all-in-all, WE WOULD BE FOCUSING ON THE TOP 3-OUT-OF-5 MAJOR ISSUES THAT WE ARE FACING AS A NATION. This helps US to become CLEARER AND CLEARER ABOUT WHO WE ARE AND WHERE WE ARE GOING.....INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY....IMAGINE 300 million citizens FOCUSING ON AND BEING IN-AGREEMENT WITH THE MAJOR ISSUES WITH PRECISION...!..?? (This would help to rebuild CONFIDENCE IN OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER AND OUR COLLECTIVE WHOLE WITH CO-CREATIVE SUPPORT OF OUR "ELECTED-OUT-OF-TRUE-CHOICE" "PROSPERITY FACILITATORS" (seems to be a BETTER "label" than "government leader/or politician"...?)

OPEN UP TO THE TRUTH OF THE SITUATION (whatEVER the situation)
ESTABLISH A MULTI-PARTISAN (NOT BI-PARTISAN) ETHICS DEPARTMENT THAT OVERSEES ALL OTHER DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT. And ANYONE who violates the HIGH ETHICAL STANDARDS OF ANY OF THE DEPARTMENTS WILL BE SWIFTLY AND JUSTLY DEALT WITH....AND THEY WILL KNOW THIS UP-FRONT, BEFORE THEY ARE ELECTED OR APPOINTED....NO QUESTIONS ASKED....AND NO STRINGS PULLED. (YES, it's TIME-FOR-ACCOUNTABILITY).

SET UP THE ELECTED OFFICIALS PAY SO THAT IT IS SOMEHOW TIED DIRECTLY TO "RESULTS". Also, TAKE AWAY SOME OF THE PERKS AND REPLACE IT WITH "BETTER-PAY"....AND THEN THEY CAN "PAY-THEIR-OWN-PERKS" OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKET...AND IF THEIR PAY IS ALSO TIED TO THEIR PERFORMANCE....THE MORE "PERKS" THEY "EARN". (incentive-based...NOT priviledge/prestige-based)

ESTABLISH SOME KIND OF ON-GOING PUBLIC FORUM WHEREIN AND THROUGH WHICH WE-THE-PEOPLE CAN CONSISTENTLY VOICE OUR CONCERNS AND GIVE FEEDBACK. THESE COULD BE BOTH LOCALLY BASED AND ALSO BE MASS COMMUNICATED VIA AN INTERNET FORUM.

OPEN BACK-UP AND RETURN TO ....."THE BASICS"...ON WHAT MAKES AN INDIVIDUAL, A PARTNERSHIP/COUPLE, A FAMILY, A COMMUNITY AND A NATION GREAT. We must START AT HOME TO RE-BUILD OUR CORE. That includes our INNER-SELVES and OUR OUTER CIRCUMSTANCES....AND IT ALL STARTS ....AT HOME. If our past president can set a MANDATE TO GO TO THE MOON...AND WE DID IT....WHY CAN'T WE ESTABLISH A HIGHER PRIORITY....THAT EACH AND EVERY PERSON HAS "A PLACE TO CALL HOME"...??? And YES, to ALSO ENSURE THAT EACH PERSON HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE HEALTH AND VITALITY...??? And also, THAT EACH PERSON FEELS A SENSE OF BELONGING AND COMMITMENT TO A PURPOSE FOR BEING....SOMETHING THAT HE/SHE CAN GIVE THEMSELVES TO.....THEIR "WORK"...SOMETHING THAT HE/SHE THRIVES IN AND THROUGH....NOT TO "SURVIVE"....BUT TO "THRIVE" IN AND THROUGH.

You would think our CO-LEADERS IN WASHINGTON WOULD FEEL SHAME ABOUT ALL THE HOMELESS PEOPLE WHO LIVE....RIGHT IN OUR NATIONS'S CAPITAL...AND DO SOMETHING TO RESOLVE IT...NOW..!!! OUR CAPITAL CITY...SHOULD BE A SHINING BEACON AND EXAMPLE OF WHAT WE AS A NATION STAND FOR....AND IT SHOULD START RIGHT THERE...RIGHT NOW. ANYTHING LESS ...IS A SHAMEFUL EXCUSE.

Yes, we really could do these things ....and THROUGH OUR EXAMPLE....AND THROUGH ATTRACTION....PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WILL COME TO SEE AND EXPERIENCE WHAT OUR FOUNDING FATHERS ENVISIONED FOR A FREE PEOPLE LIVING IN A FREE AND PROSPEROUS AND HAPPY SOCIETY.

these are just a few ideas...

Great Journal! I sent it to all of my friends who used to be true conservatives but have now become whipping posts for everyone's vision of a "liberal Hell". Greed and coruption are everywhere today.

P.

I think the problem is a society that is absorbed with materialism and greed and agree with Norman Ornstein when he said the corruption won't be minimumized until a totally new, clean political process is introduced. I had hoped the Democrats would see this clearly and become the force for this change. In the meantime, put as many corrupt officials as possible in jail, eliminate Congressional retirement (let them share in Social Security), and require a sponsorship and public vetting process for earmarks.

Thank you Bill Moyers for
your thorough essay on
corruption in D.C.
in government.
This is suppose to be a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people which it is apparent it is dysfunctional. May God have mercy on America.

How can a representative pay attention to our business when he or she has to run for congress every two years and collect millions of dollars to do it? I think of them as high paid prostitutes. You have to pay to play.

What a great program Bill Moyers presented in Capitol Crimes! It's only through public broadcasting that I would expect to see the topic addressed at all but I'm so glad to see the same quality on his return.

Responses here make clear to me why our system is in such bad shape. No insult intended, I've been immersed in it for nearly two years and forget just how much I've learned in that time.

That fact explains a large part of the problem: most Americans are stuck on the consumer treadmill and uninformed of the complex machinations that distribute our representation as the real power, moneyed interests, design it to be distributed.

In a two-parent 365-day year, how much time is left the average American to meet the needs of a two-kid budgeted day after meeting needs of the bottomline? When, say, that bottomline might be $150,000 a year and a parent-day consists of 8 hours sleep + toiletries, 12 hours of work + food + their preparation, X hours/kid, and (4 - X)hours/spouse and other entertainment ;-)?

What do you have left to study up on the issues, write your letters to congress, go to rallies, and etc?

On the other hand, the corporate person can access your representative 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year for your $150,000 budget multiplied by the power of each person they pay that kind of money (and that's low end).

Does anyone really think that a congressman who looks forward to doubling or quintupling their salary at term's-end will be a true reformer in an environment that ensures you can only meet campaign budget expenses by advertizing your accessibility in terms of donation-dollars/PAC? No real reform will come to a system that forces addiction to the purchase of publicly-licensed airtime from expensive commercial broadcast pipes in order to make your brand recognizable.

Public financing of campaigns is necessary to begin removing quid pro quo from the access to influence formula.

If you can charge for face-time, how many average Janes and Joes do you think will be waiting in your lobby every day? Probably only those paid to wait there.

The Lobbying Reform bill died on the vine because, first, we're addicted to the consumption treadmill and the longer they could drag its coming to a vote, the more of we who WOULD be activist fell to attrition at the wayside. No matter how motivated, on average it's an American consumer's attention-span that we all share. Second, real reform would screw themselves out of potential future income-multiples, how many true idiots are there on the Hill?

Oh, Marge K. marvelled at the religious fervor: these people are salesmen, it's ideological marketing that will move your emotional product. The alliance of the K Street Corporate Wing to emotionally-pliable masses made the conjob so powerful. Ralph Reed provided the 'legitimacy' wrapper to the Abramoff-Scanlon bilkjob. As much as I'm not aligned with the conservative Christian platform, it truly saddened me to know how many were screwed by appeal to emotional reflex:

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees ... Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them." - Michael Scanlon

The point? Message-spinning and conflated agendas and these guys are professional at transforming Osama into Saddam or consumption into patriotism.

The lobbying industry is advocacy and the sale of strategic communications packages is big, big business. The same conmen who originally started the astroturfing, corporate grassroots-disquised-as-'concerned citizen' activism Hands Off The Internet website took home roughly 5% of the $900-odd million spent by the RNC in 2004. It's only by serious excavation of business filings and campaign expenditure filings that you come by this information, they really don't want you to know these things.

Spinning messages galvanized the 'Rupt Wing after Abramoff's story broke to maximize the smoke and mirrors. Traditionally, tribes tended to lobby Democrats more than Republicans since their issues were not so corporatized prior to the K Street Project.

Abramoff and his cronies changed that dynamic substantially but the noise machine used history to maximum benefit. We undertook a comprehensive study of Abramoff's own contributions at ePluribus Media, the citizen journalism effort in which I'm involved, and were very surprised to find For the Record: Jack Abramoff contributed no campaign money to Democrats!

It was heartening to recognize through Capitol Crimes that, although it maybe many, not all Republicans are so corrupted as Jack Abramoff.

But it's Ralph Nader who understands the larger picture best, I think: a system that would change itself is not likely one to truly reform. It'll be energetic in convincing us that it's become a different beast. Would you vote in a package sure to cut your future income to any extent?

Lets be real and honest shall. The knife cuts both ways, whether people want to see it or not. If the Democratic party were the innocents that people would have us believe, they would shout it from the hilltops. While the Abramoff story was an obvious swipe at the Republican party, it did not fool us all.

Lobbying is a necessary tool in a democracy. Yes, we will all realize it one day when we want a policy to be shaped to solve one of our problems.

However, lobbying to shape a policy should not be confused with corruption. As I said in the other blog, limit TV ads which is one of the places where the lobbying money is spent.

Some other ways of improving lobbying I think are:
1) Lobbyist must present a list of signatures of the people they are representing. No money exchanges.
2) With the Internet age, I think we should have the Senators and Congress Reps vote from their offices in the district they represent. No more hiding in D.C. hobnobbing with the lobbyists there who might not be interested in local interests.

As long as lobbying is used to help shape the policies for the better, I think it is fair. But when Delay-types start demanding favors in return AND demand no favors be given to others, then it has become too personal, and far from influencing policy making.

Since the only voting power many of us have is in voting with our dollars -- or better yet, voting by withholding our dollars, I'd like to propose an anti-consumerism movement.

As far as I know, the U.S. still consumes more manufactured goods than any other nation in the world (even though we produce nearly none of them). That is how our "leaders" keep most Americans so clueless -- by using the equivalent of baby pacifiers (flashy wasteful trinkets and mindless entertainment or "fluff") to keep the masses content enough not to bother becoming informed. If a large majority of us were to simultaneously stop purchasing any non-essential new goods, and instead would rely on resources like freecycle.org, consignment shops, etc. -- we would soon bring all the major U.S. corporations (and, by extension, all the gluttonous U.S. politicians) to their knees.

Aside from staying in touch with one another via the internet or telephone, as well as having basic cable to be able to continue watching the informative shows that PBS offers and monitoring the lies of all the sleazy politicians (C-span) -- living like the Amish or like Franciscan Monks sounds like a pretty nice way of life to me.

Another very appealing feature of living a simple lifestyle is that it is so very unlike the lifestyles of so many of our creepy congressmen.

Consensual decision-making based on unbiased fact-finding and frank and open consultation at the level of principle is the only way to create policies that best serve all people's interests fairly. All forms of partisanship and lobbying are part of a decadent disfunctional past. As the public achieves consciousness partly thanks to Bill Moyer's efforts, the nation does not need political parties or special interest lobbyists and we will then be sincerely able to define and solve our nation's overwhelming problems.

Require lobbyists to list every cent expended in behalf of their goals and to whom given. Surely it is possible to lobby for one's ideas on the merit of them without corrupting the process by paying an elected official to legislate them into law.

Please repeat this powerful program! It was presented on church night, Wed. 8:00 P.M. and many people missed it who need to see it, and who might activate energy for major changes! I saw the last part--wish I could have taped it! Will a tape be available?

Great Journal! I sent it to all of my friends who used to be true conservatives but have now become whipping posts for everyone's vision of a "liberal Hell". Greed and coruption are everywhere today.

P.

I caught this show by accident, and it confirmed my worst fears about our government. A suggested fix: restrict or even ban campaign advertising. This is where the money all goes. Other countries like the UK have similar laws.

I live in Canada and we have our own problems with corruption in federal politics, but these seem trivial compared to the systematic undermining of the democratic process going on in the United States. There are no quick fixes to this problem as it seems to be an accepted way of doing business in the House of Representatives and until we change the entitlement mentality of some of these people, nothing significant will happen. Perhaps a start to the cleansing process would be a regular and on-going public posting of the names of Congessmen and how they voted for certain bills as well as the names of the lobbyists and also the enterprises that they represented. It seems very clear, that at the very least, knowledgeable third-party, non-aligned auditors need to be involved to bring some accountability to bear on elected officials who appear to place personal greed and party loyalties above those of the people who elected them. To allow Congress to deal effectively with its own "bad apples" is ludicrous. The real tragedy is that we've all become more and more cynical about the ethics and morals of elected officials of all political stipes and events like the Abramoff affair give credence to these feelings and beliefs.
The founding fathers, including Hamilton, would be appalled.

First of all
Welcome back Bill!

Your return is a story in itself that in another way, also portrays the escalating crisis of confidence in our political systems. I pray God allows us the time, wisdom and courage to fix it. Otherwise, I'm betting on the Taliban.

Jim mentions that "The founding fathers, including Hamilton, would be appalled."

There was one who would not be appalled, who in fact made a rather ominous prediction, in a letter addressing the Federal Covention, on September 17, 1787...

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other...

Q: Which founding father said this?

A: http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a7s3.html

Moyer's report makes you cry...Our Glvernemnt Leaders have lazily let Lobbyist's steal our Demeocracy....The Democratic Party is not anu hetter...but at this point in Time we must become more invoved..As for the Page's problem...It'should be abolised....

In response to Dennis, the statement is Franklin's and he must have become a bit more cynical than in 1785 when he described elected officials as "They are of the People, and return again to mix with the People, having no more durable preeminence than the different Grains of Sand in an Hourglass. Such an Assembly cannot easily become dangerous to Liberty. They are the Servants of the People, sent together to do the People's Business, and promote the public Welfare; their Powers must be sufficient, or their Duties cannot be performed. They have no profitable Appointments, but a mere Payment of daily Wages, such as are scarcely equivalent to their Expences; so that, having no Chance for great Places, and enormous Salaries or Pensions, as in some Countries, there is no triguing or bribing for Elections."
Benjamin Franklin, letter to George Whatley, May 23, 1785
Things have certainly changed for the worse

Instead of hiring lobbyists, who are working for the major corporations and big business, government should hire people through the Civil Service Commission that are experts, but the government's experts. These should be nonpartisan appointments (like judges, and other similar positions) and people in these positions should not be fired with each changing political administration. The common people need to take back their government instead of making it available to the highest price hired gun!

It appears the time has finally come for a system where each candidate for public office is allotted the same amount of tax dollars to spend on a campaign. Special interests would be allowed to contribute, but only directly, to travel expenses to get the candidates from Washington to their constituency as many times as they can muster. That would serve the public in being able to see their candidates back home more often, special interests to show whom they are backing if they must, and the common man could possibly once again run for office without having to be a millionaire or beholden to the system of either party.

The candidates would benefit in not having the distraction of building a campaign fund that will be large enough to compete with that of the other guy. It would also would eliminate the urge to campaign while on the clock before the political season begins.

The country would benefit in being able to trust that your candidate is voting his conscience based on the merits of an issue.

And isn't that the way it is supposed to be? No matter how you align yourself with the left or right, the country is screaming in so many ways for a sense of fairness and decency at last.

I watched the program last night. I am really upset. It is scary to me, a Canadian, that things can be this wrong in Anerica. Even more scary is the apparent inability to fix the system.Very depressing to see a great country going down the tube. Is there no hope?

Abramoff and his pals may be the worst we've found out about, but there are others and who knows how bad. We have to stop lobbying in Washington. It is so bad now that the world looks at us as a currupt country. Once America was an example of morality and the world respected us. Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rice Rumsfeld, Harris, Card, Delay, Ney, Reed, Abramoff, Libby, Norquist, Cunningham, Foley, etc. (not to mention Pat Roberts, and the rest of the so called Christian coalitions) are all members of the same rotten gang and we have to rid our country of them and their likes before we can begin to clean up our government. These neocon sanctimonious hippocrites and liars have crawled out of the sewers and the average American still can't see through their bull, or doesn't care. If Americans don't want this kind of ugly currupt power game to continue, they have to stand up and get mad as hell before it will begin to change.
I hope it's not too late, but unless we make all lobbying and soft money campaign contributions illegal... felonies, America is will not stop this downward spiral. Moyers deserves a medal for this important program, and I wish more people would have the opportunity to see it.
It would be worth while to extend its run and do more advertising to market it on the networks. And make sure the guys and gals in Iraq and afghanistan see it too.

Lobbying is another word for bribery. Bribery is illegal.

I just remember hearing Michael Moore saying over and over again "who's your daddy?" "Who's your daddy" .... Arabs give you billions, Americans give you millions.....who are you going to be nice to ? The entire Bin Laden Family should be rounded up, flown into Afghanistan, and along with 1,000,000 US troops, we march with Bin Ladens on front line, until we find Osama. The oil problem is far bigger to me than jack abramoff. NASA should be disbanded and half of them fired, the other half hired as "rocket scientists" who invent a Hydrogen Economy.....then after we get that rolling - they can all go back to space. THE ENERGY HURDLE IS EVERYTHING TO ME.

Under the Constitution, our society has the infrastructure to deal with these problems.

The press, the legal system, and their political opponents should expose the corrupt, and they should be expelled by their peers, defeated by their constituents, and/or convicted in the courts.

Our educators, too, must create the forthright, engaged, thinking populace upon which successful democracy hinges.

A breach that paralyzes its built-in checks and balances calls the most basic tenets of our form of government into question.

The issue is simple. Have the voters take back the power that they have given to those with the means.

Not simple is it? But it is the only true fix.

First, have public financed campaigns. Second, establish term limits for Congress. Take money out of the system.

"They have no profitable Appointments, but a mere Payment of daily Wages, such as are scarcely equivalent to their Expences; so that, having no Chance for great Places, and enormous Salaries or Pensions, as in some Countries, there is no triguing or bribing for Elections."

Well ... a return to THAT sort of footing would go a long, long way, wouldn't it?

How to get there?

Take the money out of the revolving door mechanism of Congressional members receiving personal benefit while in office ... and then place barriers for their becoming a secondary cog in the chain as Lobbyists themselves upon their retirement from government.

The first issue of flanking the transfer of financial benefit may be addressed by Public Financing of Campaigns, with no junkettes, no corporate sponsored fact finding missions, no extravagent meals, no gifts.

Free airtime to make their case. I'd almost go so far as saying NO anonymous attack ads; any critism of ones opponent must come from a candidates own lips.

Subject to slander and libel laws.

The secondary part, simply make it law: Former Congressional members may only work for broadbased citizen coalitions and public action groups upon their immediate retirement. Representation as a Lobbyist for financial moneyed and business interests would NOT be allowed for a period of FIVE YEARS.

Perhaps that might seperate and discourage the more venally motivated public servant from the truly inspired.

Establish a Congressional eletronic news and interactive service that would document all pending policy and legislative agendas ... with drafted policy positions stated publicy, and open for debate.

As well as establish a daily log for every single representatives time spent, meetings held, and with whom, floor votes, ect.

Professional Lobbying would be restricted to these public policy forums in which they could post their opinions on pending legislative measures ... available for public scrutiny, dissenting evidence, viewpoints, and open for public comment and debate.

In other words, Professionally Paid Lobbyists would only be allowed to reach the Whole of the Congressional Body, enmasse, within a public forum, and 'on the record' ... State their Business, and to make their best case, with full transparency ... not conducted in privately held sessions with individual members of Congress.

An inverse rule would apply to Citizen Action Coalitions and Groups. They on the other hand, would be allowed direct access to individual members, for the sole reason that the broad based citizens rights should take precedance over the narrowly selective special interest; and would thereby apply a corrective element to the current imbalance of power.

Those meetings as well, would require eletronic documentaion of policy intiatives, the positions recommended and policies discussed.

Open to the same input and debate.

In other words, we are going to need to establish a mechanism of oversight on the whole process .., a monitoring mechanism of both the Congressional member, and of any Lobbyist ... for transparencies to become effective and useful.

Those members who do not want to be subject to scrutiny will balk ... but really, so what. Why shouldn't the public be privy to a Congressional members schedule and workday ... do they not, in fact, work for us?

As their 'employers' we have the 'eminent right' to be fully informed of who they meet with and how they have spent their time.

Through such mechanisms of oversight , the public might actually be allowed to reassert the Framers intent ... Government by, and for, the People.

In the age of the Internet we now have a capable mechanism to monitor our representative government, to reinvigorate public participation, and to determine a representatives ability and dedication as advocates for the publics interests.

My final addendum is that I am not so certain that term limits are as good an idea as I once thought ... if the system was truly transparent we would want the most dedicated and capable representation to be able to continue in their good work.

True oversight and informed voting could eliminate the unworthy candidates.

OH .. a final thought, dismantle the currently installed gerrymandering of districts.

All, IMHO ... of course.


All this talk of the detrimental effects of lobbying and not one mention of the most powerful lobby in Washington....AIPAC. which is a de facto agent for a foreign goverment. That is the real danger. Foreign agencies that act like a lobby. AIPAC was a major force in pushing us into Iraq. The dean of Harvard published a research paper on it. Everyone should read it if they want to understand the true dangers of an unchecked lobby. http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011

Regards,
Al

1. Repeal Santa Clara County vs Union Pacific Railroad headnote.
2. Add to campaign finance law "contributions may only be accepted from eligible voters."
3. Also add " contributors must be residents of district represented by recipient.

I am astonished that all the comments on how to fix the evil corrupt congress fails to the best way to reduce corruption. Put the slimy low-lifes in jail for 30 years. Take away any and all pensions. Seize their entire fortunes and throw away the key. Their families can go on Welfare if needed. That will take several convictions before the rest of the slime decides it may not be worth it. They will no longer run for Congress. Harsh unforgiving punsishment is required here. Then the rules of play can be addressed. The details of the story sickens me and I am afraid AMERICA IS OVER, GET USED TO IT!!!!!!!!!

Nice work on the story. History has proven that power has a corrputiong influence, regardless of your party affiliation. The only way to reduce the corruption is to eliminate ALL of the loop holes. No money, meals, trips, etc. from lobbyists. If a loop hole is left in place, someone will exploit it.

Our representatives are paid to inform themselves of policy implications. There is no reason that it needs to be done with money brokers paying the tab. Our representatives are paid reasonably well. If they need to travel to St. Andrews to develop policy, they should be able to do it on their own dime. Congress has proven that they will not adequately police themselves. It may be time for the States to start a Constitutional amendment process to eliminate the perks in Washington.

As someone who previously voted for Tom DeLay it sickened me to see that he was willing to condone slavery, in U.S. territories no less, to keep his coffers full.

This whole selling job is an outrage. California Congressman John Doolittle (R) 4th district. Advised the city of Lincoln Ca. to use the lobbying efforts of one of his ex-aides to obtain an ear in Washington. The city council spent over $80,000 with Kevin Ring a close Abramoff associate to obtain funding for numerous projects. Does payolla work....you bet.

HAS ANYBODY TAKEN A LOOK AT THE NATIONAL INITIATIVE
FOR DEMOCRACY AT www.ni4d.us?

I do not think a Senator's spouse should be a lobbyist. I believe Joe Lieberman's wife is a lobbyist for the drug industry and Tom Daschle's wife represented the airlines. I am sure there are other examples. I would also like it if ex-legislators were banned from lobbying for life.

This is easy. I just recently learned that all of these politicians get to keep their campaign contributions when they retire. An overwhelming incentive to look out for themselves instead of the people they claim to represent. When they retire, funnel that money away from them into some worthwhile cause and then these guys will go somewhere else, like the private sector (where they should go), to rip people off without damaging our democracy in the process. Also, only those who are truly interested in improving our democracy without benefitting from it will show up to be politicians.

MY FRIENDS THE ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEMS IS TO ORGANIZE AND VOTE FOR THE NATIONAL INTIATIVE FOR DEMOCRACY AT WWW.NI4D.US
LOOK IT UP ON THE WEB.

Two parties = greatest good. The MAJORITY then decides which person is best.

For instance, with five political parties, then 21% of the vote is the winner. Is that really democracy? --It's how Hitler came into power. With 100 or 1,000 parties, then 1% or 0.1% is the deciding vote!


First of all: people are born corrupt and need constant checks and balances, discipline, punishment, guidance, and repetition to learn to overcome their innate sinfulness/evil.

This innate corruption is the cause of almost all evil in the world.

Apply this to Congress, and you need a supervisory body of some sort to discipline, oversee, balance, and, yes, punish the members of Congress and even the President of any and all wrongdoing--just as if they are naughty little kids who need a spanking once in a while.

Does this supervisory body exist? Where are the checks and balances?

The voters can replace the Congressional person, but it seems anyone who goes to Washington these days is quickly corrupted.

Ross Perot was correct when he said, "They've all had their hands in the cookie jar for too long."

"The most valuable thing on this earth is the truth. In fact, it's so valuable, it's often encaged in a vault of lies and deception."

--paraphrase of quote of Winston Churchill.

Organized lobbying: Has to be part of the process. How else to bring important issues to Washington?

...but not without checks and balances and there should be limits on contributions.

There also needs to be a powerful system in place to seek, root out, and punish corruption.

Relying on people's morals isn't enough anymore, like in the days of the founding fathers--too few people have them anymore.

Taxes are just too low on people who have enough money to spend on lobbying. Its time they spent some of their money on running the country properly instead of running it for their benefit. We have a government out of control with no real penalties for "cheating". The republicans are trying to buy the truth instead of deal with it. There is too much corruption in our regulatory agencies and some of these people should be in jail instead of running government and influencing policy. Send a few to jail and see what happens.

This is ridiculous! Every election cycle, we all get enraged. Throw the bums out! But we all vote for our favorite little local bum because "he's a nice guy", "I've always voted for him", "he's a member of my party" or "he's got a lot of clout and a newcomer will start at the bottom". Except for Mr. Moyers, there is very little journalism to be found anywhere. Nobody investigates anything, not cost-effective.
Does anyone know what senators & reps really earn? Sure, their salary. And what do they do for that? Show up when they feel like it for the few months that Congress is in session. And continuously look for more donations. Travel around the country and the world promoting themselves and their buddies. And get more donations. And plan for the next election cycle. And get more money from speaking engagements. Plus they get an office and staff and I'm sure an exorbitant amount for office supplies, etc. The best health care (nothing too good for them), great retirement benefits, even if they've only been in one term, and I bet they've got it fixed so they get it after being impeached or just quitting. And I hear stories, as in one of the postings above, that they get to keep leftover campaign contributions. That seems fair, doesn't it? They earned most of it - they cast the votes that they were paid for.
Of course, in our democratic system, all of this is transparent, open for all to see, right? If anybody finds any of this information, let me know. It's not out there. Secret closed-door sessions, tack-on pork to almost every bill that nobody sees and those who vote for don't even know is there. And, as Mr. Moyers' excellent reporting shows, there's rampant corruption and none of them care. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I'm appalled that even Holy Joe Lieberman had his wife working for a DC lobbying firm. Just like Mr. DeLay's wife in one of the scheme's illuminated by Mr. Moyers. But try to find it in the news anywhere. Let me know if you find that, also. Only on blogs but no mainstream media stories. Please take him on, Mr. Moyers. Maybe you can pick all of them off one by one since the voters are too ignorant to see what's going on. Thank you!

Wasn't something along these
lines predicted back at the
start of the drugwar. No one
cares, "I got what I want." Military state will be the
completion they said.
Goes unanswered 37 years.
Why?

The troubling nature of current policies affecting political campaign financing and PAC's is firmly entrenched throughout America via the PAC's that represent the various large labor unions. Employees who pay union dues have little to no say in the portion of their dues that is given to their state and national "representative" PAC's. Nor can they particpate in the activites of those lobby groups. The typical response to the average worker is that their union PAC is working to strengthen worker rights and protections - as if we didn't elect our representatives with that concept in mind already. Granted most unions provide a forum for worker input, with conferences, committees and conventions, and local, state and national organization positions available for those who have time to participate at that intense level. But rare is the worker who can balance work, family, hobbies/activities with the additional involvement in their union's political organization with the requisite time requirements. Unions can and do play a valuable role for many in the workforce. From a broad picture perspective, the current PAC's in Washington have only perfected and taken to a new level the process union organizations have used over the past 40 years to obtain and retain power, and then use that power to obtain favorable treatment from elected congressional representatives - all with contributions from union member dues. A simple procedural change should be required for all unions - allow members to directly opt out of political contributions to their local, state or national union organization's, and reduce the member's dues by a corresponding amount that the union is spending on those activities. Current practices allow unions to collect PAC funds and force the member to make a formal request for a reimbursement in subsequent tax years with a very narrow time limit. Why collect them to begin with from members who may object? Eliminate or minimize the easy money access and the effective "purchase power" of buying political influence will be reduced.

Unless the PAC process is radically changed, it will continue to feed into the ever widening "death spiral" of our democratic republic. PAC's (including those coprorate and foreign funded PAC's) are only an extension and outgrowth of the general public's growing quest for continued and greater government entitlement programs. Consider for a moment the political power of the consituent lobbies for groups who receive the largest amounts of entitlements - few elected officials are willing to do the "right thing" and propose even modest reform that is necessary to preserve the future viability of these programs. Those who have dared venture into the reform arena have been instantly hammered by constituent lobby groups - often with severe consequences on their ability to effectively continue as true elected representative legislators. Yet if our democracy continues on its current path, it will ultimately follow the life cycle of all those societies of documented history where the governed evolved to a point where they not only relied on governmental entitlements, but they demanded them as a birthright - regardless of the ability of the goverment to financially support the entitlement programs - leading to the collapse of their representative form of government.

I fail to see any redeeming value of allowing the continued existence of PAC's - either corporate or individually funded. Given that our elected officials can represent anywhere from 10's of thousand's up to several million citizens, where and how then do we expect those "chosen few" to obtain input from "those of us who elected them" on the ever changing and complicated issue "landscape"? What should that forum look like? Are we expecting the Federal government to take on too much - to the extent that legislators are unable to spend any meaningful time to learn and understand the issues and then discern how their constituents want them to respond? Has the evoloution and abuse of PAC's been the result of that apparent "information gap"?

How then do we reshape the size of the federal government and push more "local" issues back to states, counties and municipal governmental entities? Have we forgotten that local (municipal/county/borough) agencies have a far greater and more immediate and direct impact on our day to day lives than anything the federal government does? And yet where do most people focus their attention? Granted local government operations can be rather "unexciting" to observe and participate within. However, local governments implement fees, utility rate structures, taxes of all sorts, and rules and laws that impact how we can conduct our lives most often with little to no input from local citizens.

Perhaps the solution lies in refocusing where elected representatives go to obtain necessary information. Rather than allowing PAC's or other "interest" groups to have access to influence elected officials, the state and local government agencies would be the source for providing information to federal representatives on their constituent positions on issues that are worthy of the federal government resolution or control. How that ultimately would look and function would be an evolving concept that needs more detailed thought.

I ran for city council on an environmental ticket as a Democrat. I live in western NJ. This was during the time that the Highlands legislation was going through the state legislature. I found out by digging through the local papers and the town council meeting records that the incumbent council GOP candidates running against me not only wanted to take a central area of undeveloped land out of the proposed Highland Land and Water Protection area, they were actually using taxpayers' money to lobby the state officials on behalf of the development company that was slated to build condos on the site.

Now we're talking about as local as politics get and these people were misusing taxpayer money, lobbying on behalf of private interests (I don't know if their own interests were in any way involved) when I openly accused them of it with the council records in my hands, the local paper refused to print my remarks, backed their denials - even though a reporter from the paper had been at the council meeting when I had forced the council members to admit they had lobbied on behalf of the developer - and my own local community board would neither print the council minutes proving the lobbying or even post them on the community's website. The paper is supported by the local businesses (Republicans) and the board members of my community are also all registered GOP – they were with the mayor and council on the condo development. I was left being labeled a liar to my neighbors and as someone who tried to “smear” the council members’ good names by the very people whose tax money was used by private interests. My friends knew the truth and I did stop the development of the condos and the removal of the lake area from the Highlands Bill. That was my goal. I also learned a lot about people and politics in modern America. I’m a Baby Boomer. I’m used to People wanting to do the right thing. People don’t care any more, that’s why we’re where we are today as a country. They don’t learn enough in school and they don’t keep learning. Or, if they watch FOX news they learn non-news junk which actually makes them dumber then if they just left the TV off and watched the stars and thought. I’m assuming that a book would be considered along the lines of a potential letter-bomb and treated with similar distain.

This is a very Republican, red-neck area where hunting is more important than protecting endangered species. I've even been told by several people that both Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are communist organizations. This year there are no Democrats even running of office. Any office. The same people who were in office before I ran will probably be in office until their sons (not daughters) are old enough to take their places. If this is what’s happening down here at the bottom of the political food chain I can’t even begin to imagine what travesties of justice – in addition to the ones radiating out of our HD widescreen TV’s are being perpetrated by the oligarchy of professional politicians at the top. For let’s face it, the US ceased being a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people when the Supreme Court appointed this oil-soaked Executive Branch and their minions of special interest parasites which are now feasting on our once great Republic.

Paul Douglas the Senator from Illinois got elected to both houses in his career. He only accepted donations from supporters in the amount of $2.00. I would suggest that a "Paul
Douglas" law be passed that only donations from individuals be allowed and only in $20.00 amounts and that no donations from corporations be allowed in amts to exceed $100.00 Secondly, I would not allow
Parties to buy ads that would demean another parties candidate, only to promote their platform.

Excuse me, but the only "lobbyists" we need in Washington are our elected representitives. They are supposed to report to the rest of Congress and the President what our needs are, so that we don't clutter up the streets of our nations capitol......remember?

We are so far removed from the original intentions of the Declaration of Independence. The Founders intended for government to be subject to the "will of the people" and not to the will of conglomerates! With the advent of technology, comes the power to stop our democracy's deterioration. PLEASE all concerned citizens, let's join together online to fight these corporate monsters!

It is suppose to be the vote of the citizen that matters. Lobbists serve only their corporate masters not the American or world citizen. Remove dollars from the process. No more greasing "Representatives" palms if you want this Democracy to come into being. I certainly don't feel represented.

The two party system has failed (because the Republican/Democratic Party is in bed together). Only a free and responsible Court and a free and responsible media might have brought some fairness. (Even the film Star Wars reveals more truth than you can get from media or congress).

Let everything be up front and in front of the American people.

Nothing hidden behind closed political doors in the House and Senate and their commitees (of cover up), false news (yellow journalism). The few who try to rule us all by illicit means must be tossed from office. We have seen the Bush Administration use "might" to be right aided by the ignoble corrupt "Christian Preachers" (who, I bet, do not live what they preach and do not understand the message deeply enough anyway)
on the "air." My airways. Not the FCC's!

These people (Fox news, Clear Channel, Lieberman and his warmonger friends, the Republicans, Bush corps (undo all their evil), caused and perpetuate the Iraqi war and all are war criminals and are perhaps the true terrorists in my opinion -- some of whom caused 911 -- pre-planned the blowing up of the buildings (as evidenced by building 7) -- planned demolition. Where are the Journalists who were around then? Have they been intimidated to quit or die all at the same time? We need a third party. We the American people need to clean house. The FCC works for us not the monsters of media conglomerates. It is all related. IS greed and fear really the cause of this. Even the complacent are accountable. We knew all this before Bush put himself in office.

Now some good Republicans may emerge. And some good Democrats will emerge -- those that fight for citizens and not corporate souless monopolies are who we must support.

Remember the name Divine Law Party! It's a cross between the Green Party and the Natural Law Party. Let it be. Make it so.

In the meantime focus on what you want to create.

There is a new peace symbol.

See The Man of the Year (film) before voting...because stopping Republican owned black box voting machines without a paper trail is the end of Democracy.

How can we export what does not work here?

not stopping it, that is, would be the end of true Democracy.

Do we even need a reform? Democracy is dated, at least the democracy we have is. We need a whole new goveronmental system. We need a revolution. We need to step back for a moment and look at what we are doing. A full stop for half a second so we can all know what the one next to us is thinking. We need a "listening" system instead of a "telling" system. If all politicans are corrupt then why do we elect them?

Lobbyist are a big problem. There would really be less trouble if lobbyist were not allowed to lobby. There would be less politicians flying around in corporate jets and more of them actually doing some work for the American people.

The government should enact a law that would make lobbying illegal. Corporations have to much power in politics. Money essentially means power and that is wrong and unfair to the American Public.

i dont think thats possible because lobbyists dont care about rules, or anything else but themselves and money. they will always try and do it.

In my opinion its almost impossible to see a lobbyist free government. If people want their voice to be heard that is the easiest way of doing so. There are also going to be that need money to run their campaign, and its through illegal money (soft money).

In my opinion its almost impossible to see a lobbyist free government. If people want their voice to be heard that is the easiest way of doing so. There are also going to be that need money to run their campaign, and its through illegal money (soft money).

no matter what we do someone will get soft money out there. Laws or not there are a lot of ways of getting around them like loopholes. Isnt that how the scardle even happened in the first place.

yes and no. i mean like it is possible but the thing that would be hard is to get all of the money needed to fund everything. hard and soft money will always be around. you wont be able to stop it because people wil always be able to find loopholes. so yea it would be nice but i dont think that it will happen any time soon.

Can really see a system with out some type of corruption? You can try your hardest to get rid of it but it is always going to be there. But to level the playing field you could take it to an extreme and try to ban them but they will still be there, or you could just try to give interest groups more support and try to stomp down on lobbiests. Those are just my ideas.

I'm glad to have heard this piece, and I found the various comments on this page interesting.

It's all well-and-good to talk about things like campaign finance, or other political process, reform, but somehow we have to get the folks in power to take away their own power. That doesn't seem easy.

fwiw, it occurrs to me that the strong political polarity these days helps sustain the problem. I suspect too many of us are unwilling to vote someone from the "opposing" party into power out of fear of loss on some personal issue of interest. All the system needs to do (and there doesn't need to be any deliberate effort for this to happen) is keep enough really hot polarized issues on the gameboard, and few will be willing to take their eyes off the short term hot issue long enough to elect someone that would focus on the longer term issues.

So, I guess my contribution to this fray would be: let's forget all the short term issues: Iraq, abortion, china, corporations, gay things, osama, conservatives, democrats, the supreme court, unemployment, social security, etc. etc. Instead, make our #1 issue process reform. (I'd rather worry about keeping the boat afloat than whether the cabins are tastefully decorated. We can fix those later)

Would you be willing to vote for someone that agrees, in writing, to make these reforms their #1 agenda item, even if that person has a stand opposing yours on every other issue?

Maybe I'm really saying: You want the congress people to give up their benefits, are you willing to do the same? If so, and if enough people are, it is probably not hard to get fixed.

Public funding of all federal political campaigns is the cornerstone for bringing corruption to zero. This gives incumbents time to prepare for legislation as they don't have to raise money for campaigns. It will encourage 3rd parties running as well as relinquish the need to be a millionaire or to raise millions promising to deliver for someone holding the purse strings. This in itself should neutralize lobbyists. Then we need total transparency of all lobbyist transactions. Public funding should llevel the playing field financially for all candidates in one contest.

There is so much gerrymandering now that many races are over before they began. An independent non-partisian board is needed in each state to "un-gerrymander" so that the races are competitive and we see few races settled before the election.

My ideas are based on imigination, and come from the left of center. Without imagination nothing is possible, so I will dream on and set my goals high...

To never lie.

Create a commitee to oversee lobbying activity, and make it a no money involved activity. Thats right...lobbying will basicly be handled like a charity. RE: Work toward making this an ownership society of small farms with water rights for organic crops and other such useful projects.

Cheers to Bill Moyers

What, them interested in a lowly honest hard worker. Lame question, don't get me started

There is a simple system that would eliminate lobbying as an industry. Have Reps represent people rather than land!

Any activist can have their issues registered and published. You vote for (and hopefully know personally) your activist. (but your vote is secret)

The group of activists put togeather enough vote credits to be one percent of the total and have one of their number be declared Senator, the rest are Senator's assistants.

Choice and position in committees is alloted by excess votes over 1 percent.

Bribery and campaign advertising, per individuals are severe crimes.

You have an issue? talk to your activist friend.

Doable easy alternative to the above.

All bills must be posted online, in their final form, for two weeks before voting.

All votes must be registered with the bill, and left online, through at least the next election cycle.

Lobbyists who advocate the bill must register their connection as well as their client, on the same page as the bill

I want to introduce for discussion an election reform idea.
I first published it on the Internet about 9-10 years ago.
It was discussed by me in AOL rooms then.
During the election campaign when GWB became President I discussed this idea in Yahoo rooms.

In short, Every Individual or Corporation can donate ANY amount of money but not to a party or politician but to a board consisting of members of ALL political parties and Independents.
The money will be distributed to all the Qualified candidates Equally.
The donation will be tax deductible.
This way money will no longer corrupt politicians but promote Democracy since it assures equal access and opportunity for candidates in the election process.

The core of this idea was used by then VP Al Gore who proposed it but made available only to the board consisting of members of the Democratic and Republican parties.
At that time, Gore openly admitted in the newspapers that the idea was borrowed, for which he should be given credit.

I want people who are interested give their opinion on this idea and to give their suggestions to make it better.

I can not envision a Democratic System without groups of concerned citizens organizing themselves to demonstrate to our elected Representatives, that we, the American People, are up-holding OUR part of the EXplicit partnership agreement between--our elected representatives & us(the people).--I would encourage everyone to join organization's like the Freemoney Family Organization, to ensure that there is a fair representation of all our voices on issues such as, immigration, healthcare,as well as, the Financial/Intellectual Growth and development of all Americans!!

---Please Visit the Freemoney Family Organization at:
www.freemoneyfamilytax.com
www.freemoneyfamilyrealty.com
www.freemoneyfamilymagazine.com
1-866-730-6293---FOR MORE INFORMATION!!--PLEASE READ ON!!

TRAIN TO BECOME A QUALIFIED TAX PREPARER!-15K-80K

Details:
Body: TRAIN TO BECOME A QUALIFIED TAX PREPARER!

GUARANTEED EMPLOYMENT!--AFTER TRAINING!

--30K-PT----80K-FT---POSSIBLE!


Register for TAX PREPARER CLASSES!

YOUR INVITED!

-----------------------------Freemoney Family Organization is currently offering the following---WORKSHOPS/CLASSES!
CLASSES
Become a Qualified TAX PREPARER!-----Classes--- START---- SOON!
HOME STUDY AVAILABLE-(24-HOUR -SUPPORT ) -------COST-----YOU GET
HOME STUDY ONLY $40.00($10.00-FOR EACH PERSON) ---

----$60.00-----$20.00
-----ON-SITE-CLASS TIMES----MONDAY-THURSDAY--(9:00AM-12:00PM)(1:00PM-4:00PM)(5:00PM-8:00PM)
--(FOR 6 WEEKS)--(2-TWICE WEEKLY!)--YOU PICK THE DAYS AND TIMES YOU CAN ATTEND!
---NO CLASSES ON FRIDAY!
-------SATURDAY(9:00AM-4:00PM)--FOR 6 WEEKS!
-----SUNDAY(9:00AM-4:00PM)--(FOR 6 WEEKS!)

---------YOU MUST ATTEND 90% OF REQUIRED CLASS TIME TO RECEIVE A--- "CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION"-------

WORKSHOPS-AVAILBLE TO THE PUBLIC-------FREE---TO OFFICIAL FAMILY MEMBERS!

HOME BUYING/SELLING--DO'S & DONT'S"--HOW TO INVEST IN REAL ESTATE (FOR INVESTORS ONLY)
MONDAY'S-----(1:00PM-3:00PM)(4:00-6:00PM)(7:00PM-9:00PM)
SATURDAY'S-----(10:00AM-12:00AM)
--$10.00/PERSON--------$5.00

"HOW TO START/OPERATE A BUSINESS"
TUESDAY'S-----(1:00PM-3:00PM)(4:00PM-6:00PM)(7:00PM-9:00PM)
SATURDAY'S----(1:00PM-3:00PM)
; ; ; ; ; ; ----$10.00/PERSON--------$5.00


"HOW TO INVEST-(PART I)--EVALUATING(STOCKS, BONDS, MUTUAL FUNDS, CURRENCY'S)
---TO INVEST YOUR MONEY IN!
WEDNESDAY'S------(1:00PM-3:00PM)(4:00PM-6:00PM)(7:00PM-9:00PM)
SATURDAY'S----(4:00PM-6:00PM)
; ; ; ; ; ; -----$10.00/PERSON---------$5.00

HOW TO INVEST- (PARTII)--------SELECTING(STOCKS, BONDS,MUTUAL FUNDS, CURRENCY'S) & CONSTRUCTING AN INVESTMENT PORFOLIO"
---TO INVEST YOUR MONEY!
WEDNESDAY'S---(1:00PM-3:00PM)(4:00PM-6:00PM)(7;00PM-9:00PM)
SATURDAY'S-----(12:00PM-9:00PM)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------$10.00/PERSON----------$5.00


"HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN"--&----"HOW TO WRITE A REAL ESTATE PROPOSAL"
THURSDAY"S---------(1:00PM-3:00PM)(4:OOPM-6:00PM)(7:00PM-9:00PM)
SATURDAY'S---(1:00PM-3:OOPM)(4:00PM-6:00)(7:00PM-9:00PM)
; ; ; ; ; ; ------$10.00/PERSON----------$5.00
"HOW TO ESTABLISH/MAINTAIN A BUDGET"------&----"HOW TO MANAGE CREDIT DEBT"--ONE WORKSHOP!
MONDAY-THURSDAY(9:00AM-9:00PM)
SATURDAY'S(9:00AM-9:00PM)-SUNDAY'S(1:00PM-9:00PM)----------------------------------COST------------- ------$10.00/PERSON-----------$5.00

CALL --512-350-4210----or-----512-535-5884--TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT!---SEATING IS LIMITED!----

---OR-----

COME BY:
FREEMONEY FAMILY ORGANIZATION HEADQUARTERS
7901 CAMERON RD. BUILDING #2
SUITE 147
AUSTIN, TX 78754

ARE YOU A EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD?----
WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONDUCT WORKSHOPS EDUCATING PEOPLE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR CURRENT PROFESSION/or HOBBY?-------

---PLEASE TELL THE REPRESENTATIVE WHEN YOU CALL TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE AT ONE OF THE FIVE WORKSHOP THE FREEMONEY FAMILY ORGANIZATION IS OFFERING!!!

ARE YOU WONDERING----WHO/or WHAT IS THE FREEMONEY FAMILY ORGANIZATION ABOUT! WHAT IS ITS MISSION!

Please review the following e-mail I sent to Sharon Epperson/CNBC-BUSINESS-CORRESPONDENT--&---THE NEW YORK TIMES!
---about the only realistic micro-solution to address the alarming Financial/Intellectual division in America!!!

My name is Averitt Freemoney Phillips,Jr.(MBA-2004)(Licensed Real Estate Specialist)
(IRS-Registered Tax Practitioner)--Please share the follow information with your immediate family, as well as, the--CNBC/Urban League Family, information about my new organization--the Freemoney Family Organization whose purpose is to use its resources to help official Family Member's build wealth/serve their communities! The Freemoney Family Organization will provide a micro-solution, for official Freemoney Family Members, to the alarming Financial/Intellectual division which is having a negative effect on the quality of life of all Americans!!!

(I was fortunate enough to preview the Freemoney Family Organization on the JUICE and JAM Show-88.7-Austin,TX- -(with Magic, Merilly,Star& Baby)on December 29,2006!)

-------The Freemoney Family Organization is now offerring(60,000,000) FREE membership to all fee's paid/commissions paid clients of:

Freemoney Family Tax Service--(open 24 hours----TAX SEASON!!)(http://www.freemoneyfamilytax.com)-- The Freemoney Family Organization will pay any individual, company or organization $50,000 to allow Freemoney Family Tax Service to Prepare/File your tax returns/Forms!---

ONLINE--TAX-FILING-SITE-----GO---1040.com----Enter our zip-code---78754----Call Freemoney if you have any questions!!!

Freemoney Family Realty--(http://www.freemoneyfamilyrealty.com)-- The Freemoney Family Organization will pay (seller&buyer) $50,000 when Freemoney Family Realty helps you buy or sell Real Estate!(limit 10--$50,000 Freemoney Family Lifetime Membership Guarantee Certificate! ($500,000) per individual,company, or organization!)
---Thru Freemoney Family Realty, the Freemoney Family Organization hopes to REDUCE/or ELIMINATE--HOME FORECLOSURE--within the official membership ranks of the Freemoney Family Organization!!!!

Freemoney Family Magazine---http://www.freemoneyfamilymagazine.com)--A FREE magazine which will be distributed monthly to official Freemoney Family Member's only! All official Family Member's will have an opportunity to be paid/or compensated for Reading/appearing in all advertisements/articles! The Freemoney Family Magazine will not accept/or offer subscriptions to non-family member's! It will be used to equip Family Member's with the knowledge/skills to enhance his or her life, as well as, the life of those who reside in their communities!

Official Family Member's will receive FREE membership in the:
Freemoney Family Business Investment Club!(first meeting 8/1/2007!) (Accepting business plans to be evaluated for equity/or loan financing from official family member's--starting 6/1/2007!)
Freemoney Family Real Estate Investment Club!(first meeting 8/1/2007!)--Accepting Real Estate proposals to be presented to the official Family Member's for evaluation for equity/or loan financing starting 6/1/2007!
The investment clubs will be used to help each family member meet his or her financial objectives!

--Place a professional listing in the Freemoney Family Business Reference Guide!--Updated Yearly, Distributed to each official Family Member FREE! (All service-providers-and-family-friendly product sellers are welcomed!)

If you or the CNBC/Urban League Family have any questions please come by or call:
Averitt Freemoney Phillips,Jr.
7901 Cameron RD. SUITE 147
Austin,TX 78754
512-350-4210--cell
512-535-5884---office#
1-866-730-6293---when calling outside Austin,TX!
512-535-3051--fax#
Have a Blessed/Freemoney Day!

There is an inherent contradiction in the system. In America, we worship 2 gods (at least): the ideology of Capitalism as well that of Democracy. Our capitalist spirit whispers to us that the person with money deserves it and all the inherent advantages. Let the best man win - it's the best for all of us. In our other ear, we hear our democratic conscience revolting against the way money distorts the power of the one person-one vote ideal... Since these two gods seem to be equally important to us, the question is whether the current system represents a compromise between them, or have lobbyists sacrificed too much on the altar of Capitalism at the expense of Democracy?

If you look at the results of the system - not the rhetoric - concerning healthcare, education, and foreign policy, among others, I would say Democracy has become a lesser god...

My 81-year old father, who does not have internet, asked me to contact those we thought might be interested in promoting his idea of a $70,000 tax break for middle class couples. He feels that the American worker (or middle class) has been dealt a blow by Nafta and Afta. He feels that
Congress has let down the American worker, the most productive worker in the world. He feels that a $70,000 tax break for middle class couples would help middle class families more than other plans--if only in helping them pay for health insurance. The fact that the gap is widening between the upper class and the lower class causes him to fear for the economic future of his children and especially his grandchildren.

Thank you so much for your time. You do a wonderful job addressing difficult issues.

Democracy?

The USA is a Republic, remember.

An Amendment needs to be added to the Constitution to make it impossible for 2-3 Branches of Government to work in cahoots with each other like they have for the past 7 years.

If this were a democracy, instead of a Republic, we would not be where we are as most 5th graders would have done a better job.

I only hope the Democrat majorities in all three branches of government all have integrity and let lots of sunshine fall on the whole process, including committees.

The taxpayers deserve to know it ALL. Redact what you must reasonable redact and broadcast the rest in real time.

The people's patience will run out quickly if they see the Dems behaving like the Reps did from 2000-2004!

We live in somthing far from democracy. we live in a form of benevolent Facism. This is because by definition whenever the government a run by and for a small group of the opulent, in this case corporations mainly, you are not living in a democracy. The system is broken because all governments tend to gravitate towards the interest of a few, and without the organization of the people against this tendency, this is the default state of any government anywhere. We have been fooled and lied to into believing democracy is going into a booth, pulling a lever, and praying you hit the jackpot by choosing the right one this time. Democracy is hard, it requires informed, active citizens. Just go back to the writings for the framers of the constitution, they told you this is the only way the democratic experiment would work. Ben Franklin was asked after the Coonstitution was passed: Well, do we have a Republic, or a Monarchy?

He replied "A republic, as long as they can keep it." Well, the reality is the interests of a few quickly took it over, we've never really had it.

When President-Elect Obama got so much of his support from many supporters in small amount, they felt they had a voice.
The election reform bill needs to be passed where by getting small amounts of support from many voters, their race would be funded by public financing. This would make the Senator and Representatives responsible to the voters and not to big business which writes them big checks.

www.democracyisnotfreedom.com

We the poeple own the airways. Why not pass a Bill that would create equal time on all broad cast television for candidates to present their views. Say one evening a week for local and other candidates. We the people are the only sponsers allowed. The passage of a Bill like that would eliminate the need to raise large sums of money to present ideas to the public for elections.

Is it the time to buy land now? Prices went significanly low, but I dont want to be stuck in an non growing market!

Buy Louis Vuitton 2010 Fall Winter

assortment style
bag LV shinning golden hardware. Other

unlikable handbags, this artist bag by
Louis Vuitton IS secured Engraved zip finish

off and S-lock. It opens to Reveal the lining with Louis Vuitton Inventor flat. Beside a

dimension of now accessible in Two

feminine Which colours are understated but comfortable. at any time you are searching for

flowery and Fanciful bag, this one IS certainly not your style.
cheap fake louis vuitton handbags

Buy Louis Vuitton 2010 Fall Winter

assortment style
bag LV shinning golden hardware. Other

unlikable handbags, this artist bag by
Louis Vuitton IS secured Engraved zip finish

off and S-lock. It opens to Reveal the lining with Louis Vuitton Inventor flat. Beside a

dimension of now accessible in Two

feminine Which colours are understated but comfortable. at any time you are searching for

flowery and Fanciful bag, this one IS certainly not your style.
cheap fake louis vuitton handbags

Post a comment