Table of Contents
What are Moneyed Interests?
Moneyed Interests refers to policy and laws being influenced, and at times even decided by, the wealthy.
A government under the control of corporations is, in a word, a corpocracy. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case in the U.S., where the interests of the 1% often dictate how the U.S. runs.
According to a study cited by RepresentUs, public opinion has a “near-zero” impact on U.S. law.
If public opinion (i.e. the varying and albeit sometimes conflicting wants/needs of the citizenry) has little to no effect on legislation, then what does?
(Misused) wealth can beget tax exemptions, favorable legislation, the quiet destruction of free markets.
While a legislator or regulator may disagree with us on various issues, they should, at bare minimum, perform the functions of their role based on what they believe is best for the public. Moneyed interests, however, corrupt government officials (if they were not corrupt already). Shirking their duty to the citizenry, lawmakers essentially work for the wealthy and powerful who seek to unethically maximize profits and break free markets.
When moneyed interests prevail, legislators and regulators act in favor of the wealthy and powerful. The public, on the other hand, suffers, powerlessly having government and big businesses rip them off lawfully but unethically. The prioritization of moneyed interests is exactly what the Zero Theft Movement seeks to eliminate from our politics and economy. Read on to learn how you can help the effort.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. spends more than any other country for pharmaceuticals per capita ($1,011). Switzerland, the second biggest Rx spender per capita, comes in at $783. Why are U.S. drug prices so high? See what the ZT community has discovered about this potential problem area…
How Moneyed Interests Run the Country
As we’ve previously mentioned, the wealthy can use their vast reserves of capital to protect their moneyed interests.
Through lobbying and corporate crime, corporations can essentially purchase an official’s vote and/or receive their vocal and public support. These practices, in short, give the reins of the country to corporations who have free licenses to pass or block legislation based on what benefits them most. Lost are genuine, good-faith debates about what will benefit the greater public, and instead, businesses break free markets so they can rip us off even more.
The Zero Theft movement intends to eradicate the immoral government-industry ties that have prioritized moneyed interests above the public.
Considering the landmark decisions of McCutcheon v. FEC and Citizens United v. FEC, that completely changed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the dam restricting campaign donations has burst open. It’s almost as if the government is saying, “Well, it’s happening anyway, so why to act like we restrict it?”
Lobbying & Pay to Play
Lobbying itself has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, wherein corporations ‘invest’ (relatively) small sums to secure returns valued hundreds of times over.
In short, lobbyists potentially generate trillions for corporations. An admittedly great ‘investment’ that businesses can use to unethically maximize profits off of our backs.
The multibillion-dollar lobbying industry
This injustice potentially manifests itself, for example, in the pharmaceutical industry and its alleged methods of price gouging. Beyond patents preventing market competition, Big Pharma can find ways to delay or even sabotage generic manufacturers. Biologics (complex, costly, and time-consuming to develop) are a minefield of patents for generics. Big Pharma can obtain numerous patents on a single drug in order to deter other manufacturers from even attempting to produce a biosimilar product. That such anticompetitive practices seemingly remain a part of the pharmaceutical industry should raise concerns as to why meaningful government intervention has yet to take place.
We should not, however, attribute all the blame to major corporations. Rent-seeking legislators and regulators who build their slush funds to finance a life of luxury should also receive their fair share of the guilt. Pay to Play really involves both of the parties tacitly agreeing on the idea that money will, at the least, buy you or your lobbying squad access to the lawmaker.
What does Access Achieve for Moneyed Interests?
Admittedly, it’s near impossible to find evidence that a lawmakers vote can be directly exchanged for a fee or favors. The complete lack of transparency and innumerable forms of compensation just obfuscate the truth even more. Nevertheless, research has suggested that access alone serves as a powerful tool in mobilizing politicians to a cause.
Political scientists Richard L. Hall and Frank W. Wayman wrote on the value of access in their article “Buying Time: Moneyed Interests and the Mobilization of Bias in Congressional Committees.” Hall and Wayman found that entities make donations, even to those opposed to them, for the main purpose of motivating or demotivating the lawmaker. PACs do not operate (rationally speaking) under the expectation that they will change the lawmakers’ votes, otherwise, they’d focus their spending on ‘swing’ legislators. Furthermore, the money is really intended to influence legislation at the committee level—before going to floor voting, where one’s reputation is on the line.
In reality, the donation, as well as the access, influences legislative involvement: to either encourage a government official who was already on your side to strongly champion your cause or discourage an opposing lawmaker who might speak out against the industry you represent. Hall and Wayman state, “Access is central to stimulating agency.”
Wage stagnation appears to have been an issue since the 70s, with the end of the Bretton-Woods Agreement. Do you think workers are receiving less than they perhaps should?
A Mini Case Study: Moneyed Interests in the COVID era
The administration signed off on the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security) Act—a trillion-dollar bailout package designed to provide financial support to businesses and individuals.
Time magazine reported on the deeply concerning structural flaws of the CARES Act that ultimately led to disproportionate funds going to massive business operations. While the CARES Act prohibits buybacks and outsourcing jobs overseas, it has few mechanisms for enforcing these necessary restrictions.
The treasury secretary “shall endeavor” to uphold the provisions…that’s about as far as the expressed protections went.
To accusations of corporate welfare, the government spent billions bailing out various industries. Including the airline industry and hospitals with questionable dealings. But that’s only what’s public. A lack of transparency created further concerns about the allocation of the funds.
@Public_Citizen on Twitter: “Mnuchin is now flat-out REFUSING to disclose the businesses receiving $500,000,000,000 in bailout funds, claiming the info is ‘confidential.’ 4.5 MILLION businesses received government funds. Zero transparency. Unconscionable, jaw-dropping corruption.”
The Treasury Department even refused to release the recipients of the Payment Protection Program, although a few names did surface. We should have much reason to at least suspect pork barrel politics, earmarks, and lobbying have influenced how the government has allocated relief funds.
Thankfully, public outcry compelled multi-million dollar chains such as Shake Shack to decline the funds they’d applied for. That concerted and successful movement to speak out against the (mis)distribution of the funds should indicate how much power we, the citizenry, have in numbers.
Are Moneyed Interests Prioritized Over Public Interests?
The moneyed interests of corporations and the wealthy have rigged the economy against us. We need to set aside our party allegiances and band together to fight against bad actors who rip us off every day. Ignored, accepted, or undersold, these unethical practices must be stopped immediately. Those rigging the economy against the public cannot hide any longer if you take action.
Movements like Occupy Wall Street have had difficulties creating real change because they haven’t had an accurate estimate of the theft occurring as a whole and in each economic sector. ZTM solves this problem with our crowdsourced and crowd-approved proposals where we, the citizenry, analyze the facts of each situation and determine the most accurate representation and figure for any one case. We can cut through the obfuscation and rhetoric to collectively discover the truth and fight for our rightful slice of the pie.
ZTM does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.