Instigator / Pro
1470
rating
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Topic

THBT: Corporate lobbying (using money) ought to be illegal

Status
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Category
Politics
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
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Contender / Con
1757
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Description
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Corporation definition: A corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. Under the law, corporations possess many of the same rights and responsibilities as individuals. They can enter contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets, and pay taxes.

Lobbying definition: Lobbying The process of influencing public and government policy at all levels: federal, state, and local. Lobbying involves the advocacy of an interest that is affected, actually or potentially, by the decisions of government leaders. Individuals and interest groups alike can lobby governments, and governments can even lobby each other.

Pro: Corporate Lobbying using money or offering positions of power to politicians ought to be illegal
Con: Corporate lobbying using money and offering positions of power ought to stay legal

Round 1
Pro
Introduction
Hello, novice. Evidently, during this debate, Novice and I will both probably agree that all Americans should have the right to petition the government. Where Novice and I may disagree on the topic at hand is how expanded this right should be or how we should interpret the right to petition the government as to not breed corruption within systems of government.


Lobbying is a necessary evil, but financial lobbying is not
Lobbying, by itself, is a necessary evil. Groups or other independent units need to form together to protect their own interests in a rule by many society. Financial lobbying (writing checks to government officials), however, is not one of those necessities.


Financial lobbying is inherently cohersive
 Concern exists regarding the potential for payment to unduly influence participation and thus obscure risks, impair judgment, or encourage misrepresentation. As we will later find out, financial lobbying can very easily accept the demands of the lobbyists for funding (even against their own values). Evidently, this system promotes politicians to lie more often. It promotes politicians to constantly contradict themselves both in front of the press and within their policy decisions.

The constitutional right to petition the government
In the United States the right to petition is enumerated in the First Amendment to the United States constitution, which specifically prohibits Congress from abridging "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


According to congressional research centre the right to petition the government has continuously expanded since its conception.

the right of petition has expanded. It is no longer confined to demands for “a redress of grievances,” in any accurate meaning of these words, but comprehends demands for an exercise by the government of its powers in furtherance of the interest and prosperity of the petitioners and of their views on politically contentious matters. The right extends to the "approach of citizens or groups of them to administrative agencies (which are both creatures of the legislature, and arms of the executive) and to courts, the third branch of Government. Certainly the right to petition extends to all departments of the Government. The right of access to the courts is indeed but one aspect of the right of petition."
This alone should fulfill my burden of proof for this round that the current interpretation and implementation of the right to petition has gone far beyond its original conception if we're to take the written words literally for what they say. Evidently, it could be the case that the right to petition has expanded in brevity because the current system (being able to pay for laws) is a better system and that the original conception of the constitutional right was inadequate at addressing peoples grievances. 

How financial lobbying affects policy decisions
According to a 2010 study by the Daylight Foundation, which used tax data to correlate increases in lobbying with decreases in real taxes paid for corporations, many of the top corporations in the USA have utilized millions in lobbying to save billions in taxes. As calculated in this study, between 2007 and 2009, the top 8 lobbying spenders (Exxon Mobil, Verizon, GE, At&T, Altria, Amgen, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing) spent approximately $540 million in lobbying; by 2010, these companies had seen a reduction in taxes of approximately $11 billion. The potential return on investment demonstrated here is over 2000% – this is higher rate of return than most any investment other than a winning lottery ticket.

Tobacco and extraction (oil, coal and gas) companies are the largest beneficiaries from reduced regulations, mostly due to the fact that their products are toxic to consumers and bystanders. Over the years, regulations have been slowed or suppressed totally by lobbying from these industries, increasing these industries’ profits by billions; a perfect recent example of this phenomenon is that of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Due to regulatory loopholes, put in place by politicians – who received thousands from extraction lobbyists – fracking companies don’t even need to disclose what chemicals they are pumping into the ground. Despite evidence that these chemicals are toxic to humans and animals, can pollute groundwater or even render it highly flammable, and sometimes cause earthquakes, this loophole persists; there is no possible rationale for this continued lack of disclosure other than the effects of corporate lobbying swaying politicians (exploding water, higher cancer rates, and random earthquakes should sway even the most recalcitrant politician to action, barring the interference of money).


America is a soft plutocracy
plutocracy (from Ancient Greek πλοῦτος (ploûtos) 'wealth', and κράτος (krátos) 'power') or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income.
You cannot have a functioning society when the governmental class that is supposed to regulate the entrepreneurial class is directly funded by the entrepreneurial class.
  • The government officials cannot get elected without the financial support of the financial elite (lobbyists).
  • The financial elite make the government officials dependent on their funding.
  • The government officials then prioritize lobbyists more than they do their own constituents.
  • The constituents then have minimal to no representation in either their government or their institutions.
Under current law, lobbyists can avoid registering by spending less than 20 percent of their time lobbying for a single client. So, if a lobbyist splits time among several clients, they are not required to register. Also, advising a company without directly lobbying members of Congress on behalf of that company allows a lobbyist to avoid registration. This enables very obvious loopholes to exist within the current interpretation of the constitutional right, it follows that a wealthy billionaire can simply get his friends and business associates to also not register but offer vast sums of money.

There are about 9,500 lobbyists registered at the federal level, which means about 18 lobbyists for every member of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate


the population of interests lobbying legislatures tends to represent businesses and the upper-class more than the population at large. Thus, because lobbying influences legislative outcomes, those privileged elements of society who are better equipped to organize and lobby are more likely to realize their policy goals.

Evidently this then massively sways the amount of people who can partake in this form of petitioning. Leading to politicians lie to the general public promising reforms and standards to be met which in the end do not get met through them lying to simply get elected while pocketing the money, stocks and positions they will attain once they retire from their lobbyists funders.

Lobbyists and Barrack Obama
President Barack Obama came under fire for taking what appeared to be contradictory approaches to lobbyists. When Obama took office after winning the 2008 election, he imposed an informal ban on hiring recent lobbyists in his administration.

Obama said later:

"A lot of folks see the amounts of money that are being spent and the special interests that dominate and the lobbyists that always have access, and they say to themselves, maybe I don’t count."

Still, lobbyists were frequent visitors to the Obama White House. And many former lobbyists were given jobs in the Obama administration, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Defence contractors and congress corruption
A quick google search will let you know private defence contractors have some of the lowest taxes in America (due to lobbying), yet you will also find they have their fingers in many pockets of those in congress. Indeed, it wasn't long ago that Blackrock was exposed that it bribed congress members through stocks and shares within its company, allowing it to be gifted far more defence contracts for the US.


Conclusion

  • Evidently, the right to petition has become far too broad and has opened the government up to corruption so bad, it could arguably not even be considered a full representative democracy anymore but a soft plutocracy.
  • It has been shown time and time again financial lobbying has lead to what could essentially be a form of coercion on politicians to take certain courses of action.
  • Evidently this then massively sways the amount of people who can partake in this form of petitioning. Leading to politicians to lie to the general public promising reforms and standards to be met which in the end do not get met through them lying to simply get elected while pocketing the money, stocks and positions they will attain once they retire from all funded by their financial lobbyist overlords.


Unlinked sources:


Con
Framework
  • Lobbying: influencing or attempting to influence legislative action or nonaction through oral or written communication or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a member or employee of the Legislature. 

Categorical distinguishment(s) 
  • Pro argues that lobbying ought to be illegal, but using money to do so ought to be illegal. It seems unclear as to why all financial lobbying should unquestionably be illegal, but no other lobbying should. This seems arbitrary. This contention can be summarized by the question: "What is true of cooperate lobbying, that if true of x political or social practice, would justify banning x political or social practice?" 

Distinguishments II. 
  • Pro affirms that lobbying ought to be legal, just not financial lobbying, for instance, but it seems as if pro would have to commit to banning any form of campaign donation by the same token. If giving money to politicians should be illegal in one case, under pro's logic, it seems that there is no logical difference between the implications of this reduction. In this case, no candidate would be able to raise a campaign but those previously wealthy, something that would have arguably worse implications for our Democracy. 
  • It seems as if pro would have to ban some non-financial forms of lobbying as well. Company endorsements for example can be just as impactful as financial contributions. And if this is the case, all the entailments of financial lobbying would also apply to non-financial lobbying. The implications of this not only place pro's argument to suspect but place pro's views under the threat of logical contradiction. 
  • Pro would also have to ban news agencies, and platforms spend millions, even billions in cases, on reporting, and conveying their ideological perspectives, thus influencing many people. These are wealthy institutions that influence political positions, yet pro does not call them inherently evil. In fact, all of pro's questionable arguments can also be applied to news outlets. The news to quote pro could "influence participation and thus obscure risks, impair judgment, or encourage misrepresentation," yet he does not seek to ban media outlets. 

I. Regulation vs Banning 
  • I hold no objection to the regulation of financial lobbying, I object to its banning given that there is no logical difference between this, and other forms of lobbying that pro already claimed should be legal, in many cases. 

II. Representation

III. Practicality considerations
  • Lobbying allows candidates to acquire funding for their campaigns. Logically as showcased above, this can extend to basic donations: there is nothing that would separate different people from granting money to candidates to represent their interests - a ban on financial lobbying must entail a ban on all donations. My counter-plan is to place restrictions on the amount of money granted, which contributes to both imperatives. 

Rebuttal(s)
  • Pro asserts that lobbying is a "necessary evil. "This is asserted, not argued for, amounting to an argument by assertion fallacy: it cannot be accepted. While I can agree lobbying is necessary, the burden falls on pro to demonstrate soundly, that it is evil.  

b. "Inherently coercive." 
  • Pro does not show any evidence that cooperates lobbying "promotes politicians to lie more often," or to "constantly contradict themselves both in front of the press and within their policy decisions." Cherry-picking a single instance of Barrack Obama does not evidence this. 

c. "Expansion of rights" 

d. "Impact on policy decisions" 
  • Pro makes his argument from a study that, as Ehyeh says, "correlates increases in lobbying with decreases in real taxes paid for the corporation." This is a just correlational fallacy, correlation does not imply causation. This entire study is very flawed. It has a sample size of only 8 companies and only shows that 7 had reduced tax rates, and it is based upon an observation that can easily be explained by a significantly lower cooperate tax rate in 2010, than in 2007. Pro's study does not even control for changes in tax rates. The study even admits that it analyzes what these companies' taxes would have been if their "2007 tax rates were applied to their 2010 income," as if tax rates don't change. This methodology is incoherent. 

e. "Soft plutocracy"
  • Proof by assertion should not be regarded as pertinent to this debate. Pro does not seem to cite the current laws in reference, and pro does not make a case that shows any of the implications of them and their ethical relevance other than in limited cases. For instance, the amount of lobbyists is irrelevant to our debate, because as pro stated, lobbying should remain legal, just not financial lobbying, and pro has not even shown the proportion of lobbyers that actually expend money. 
 ...lobbying influences legislative outcomes...
  • This is true, but many things influence legislative outcomes. Including any form of lobbying, yet, pro has stated that lobbying should be legal, which implies the conjunction of premises "lobbying should and should not be legal."  

Conclusion
  • Overall, none of pro's arguments show why cooperate lobbying should be banned. That is to say, they are mostly flawed analyses, and/or assumptions that lobbying is wrong. Pro's arguments also apply to actions pro states should remain legal, and this would introduce logical contradiction into the affirmative case. 
Round 2
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Round 3
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