Another large scale concern that I want to bring to the attention of my readers is in regards to the relationship that is brewing between corporations and public office. Though most are well aware that the lines are getting blurred between these two, with campaign contributions and all. An even bigger atrocity is happening right in front of the public’s eyes, which is now being referred to as the revolving door.
The revolving door is a term that was coined to describe the interchanging of job positions that goes on between regulators and legislators, and the private sector. After years in public office as a legislator or regulator, many individuals will make the move to the private sector, to work for companies they previously monitored and regulated (often because they’re recruited by the companies).
The reasoning for this is because these regulatory agents withhold valuable insight on the government operations and have built valuable relationships with people in regulatory positions. Making them valuable assets to the private business that can economically advance if favorable legislation (environmental, safety, health, etc ) were to be passed that effects their industry. For example if Monsanto the creators of rBGH (cow hormone), had one of their public lawyers become the FDA’s deputy commissioner for policy, and try to work towards creating a better image for rBGH federally, even though they knew it was potentially harmful, whichis a true story by the way (source
). The opposite, where government workers will transfer over to the private sector is also prevalent, because government workers can offer private corporations a great deal of insight into the regulation process that governs their particular sector, as well as come with some already established relationships between their new employee, and his or her old friends who are still in office. Both situations present an enormous threat to the interest of the greater public, and the potential for constantly reducing public standards in favor of corporate interests.
The reasoning for this cross pollination of private and public folk as you could call it, has some validity, since both parties offer valuable insight to the other, which can contribute to making better regulatory and business decisions. However it creates an undeniable conflict of interests, and puts the integrity of the regulatory agency and public legislatures at risk. There are many notable cases that involve regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies that put the public in harms way for the sake of corporate advancement.
I believe these actions are justified morally on the part of private companies because privately traded companies are under law to diligently work towards providing a profit for their share holders. So they lawfully, I guess you could call it, explore all avenues of expanding their bottom line. The most effective way of doing this is to directly effect the laws that can potentially restrict them, or their potential business advancements. Many large chemical companies and pharmaceutical companies have worked tirelessly to build relationships with the regulator agencies that govern them, by getting their people on the inside. By getting their people on the chair of regulatory bodies, they have effectively worked towards limiting the regulations that restrict them. Typically this result in lower environmental standards, lower health standards and so on. Ultimately its shown to benefit a few at the expense of the masses. Though this subject is not taken as serious as I believe it should be, President Obama has shown efforts to close the revolving door by not allowing lobbyist who have lobbied certain agencies on behalf of corporations, to work for those agencies in the future (source).
Beyond government agencies, the government itself has been incredibly susceptible to the revolving door. In 2004 the pentagon faced an incident where it lost an employee Edward Aldridge to the military contractor Lockheed Martin. Lockheed had been previously proposing a fleet of jets for some time, which Aldridge himself was known as opposing for the budget busting price tag. Interestingly enough though in the month leading up to Aldridge leaving his position at the pentagon, he approved the 20 jets for a whopping $3 billion (source). If that were the only incident, I don’t think it would be coined with such a catchy title. However that is far from the only case, and $3 billion is not the extent of government money being spent on potentially unnecessary military contracts. Similarly, Goldman Sachs chief executive officer ended up as president Bush’s appointed secretary of the treasury during the financial crisis and bank bailout of 2008, and surprisingly enough Goldman Sachs was the recipient of 12.9 billion in funds, when many of the competitors received nothing (source).
Actions like this outline how the government is being infiltrated to advance the interests of corporate America. Though advocates suggest the expertise of former private sector employees and public service employees offers great insight to the other side. The threat of this conflict of interests overrides any potential gains that are made from the relationship. If this continues to persists the government and its regulatory bodies will offer no value to the American people and simply be a medium by which corporate America passes through to meet its economic needs. Though I just brushed the surface of this topic and did not dive into the rabbit hole, I think the simple notion of public officials and private companies playing red rover back-and-forth needs no further explanation to draw the conclusion that this is simply unacceptable. Take the time to learn more about the revolving door and share what you’ve learned with others. The more people who know the more likely we are to take massive action.