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Solving the Corruption of Crony Capitalism

Utah's Senator Mike Lee

Utah’s Senator Mike Lee

Yesterday my senator, Mike Lee, gave a speech mentioning the ills of crony capitalism – where well-financed lobbyists secure the passage of laws benefiting their clients.  He invited his constituents to submit creative solutions.

  Here’s mine:

Mike,

Unless and until the party hierarchies are dismantled, crony capitalism will continue to corrupt our legislators and laws, effectively destroying the Rule of Law.

Crony capitalism was enabled and enthroned when the Progressive movement of the early 1900s changed the rules of both the House and Senate and implemented the party hierarchy system in both bodies.

This change did three things (all bad):

1. It put all Senators and Congressmen on unequal footing as legislators – new members to Congress have practically no power or influence, requiring them to focus on re-election to “earn” the tenure they need within the party hierarchy.

2. It centralized legislative power into the hands of the Senate & House majority leaders and the chairmen of the various committees, turning them, by definition, into legislative dictators. No bill can even be voted on unless and until two people approve – the committee chairman and the Majority Leader.

“The party hierarchies are a root cause of Crony Capitalism. By focusing all legislative power into the hands of a few individuals, monied interests can easily corrupt the legislative process.”

3. This created the conditions the rise of lobbying by turning the Senate & House majority leaders and committee chairmen into targets for well-financed lobbyists and enables and encourages corruption.  All you have to do now is influence one person to kill a bill you don’t like, instead of having to influence a majority of Congressmen and/or Senators.

If corrupting the national Legislative Branch wasn’t bad enough, these Progressive movement changes were implemented in all the state capitols as well.

In contrast…

Imagine a Senate where each Senator in a committee gets an equal vote on every bill coming before them – newly elected Senators would have the same vote as everyone else.  This can be accomplished by restricting the committee chairman’s responsibilities to only one – conducting the meeting according to the Rules of Order.

Imagine a Senate where the Senators have an equal vote on the bills the committees bring before them.  No centralized power existing to stop bills or to push them through.  This would massively dilute the lobbying industry’s influence.

The party hierarchies are a root cause of Crony Capitalism. By focusing all legislative power into the hands of a few individuals, monied interests can easily corrupt the legislative process.

The solution is clear – dismantle the party hierarchies and restore equal power to each Senator and Congressman.

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