George B. Reed Jr.

George B. Reed Jr.

The main culprit in job losses and income disparity in this country is not illegal aliens and globalization as our president contends, it is the microchip.

The displacement of American workers through technological innovation and the power of Washington lobbyists to prevent raising the minimum wage have put us in this hole.

Corporations spend billions annually to influence legislation. Some of the largest enterprises command 100 lobbyists or more and outspend unions and public interest groups 34-1. Until the 1970s few companies had their own lobbyists and lobbied mostly through their trade associations. But the sheer size of corporate lobbying today overwhelms all potentially countervailing influences.

Formerly the main purpose of lobbyists was to keep the government out of business, a task they performed adequately for many years. But today Corporate America is increasingly seeking to partner with government, realizing the marvelous things government can do for business such as protection against foreign competition, suppressing wages, privatizing certain government functions, favorable tax legislation, deregulation, etc.

In order to confront increasing labor and regulatory compliance costs, in 1972 a corporate group formed the Business Roundtable to cultivate favorable political influences. By this time many larger corporations had begun to hire their own lobbyists and the practice mushroomed into the industry/profession that today exercises unrivaled influence over legislation and government policies. To change corporate executives' minds about the potential returns from investing in politics, lobbyists have convinced their clients that Washington politics could actually become another profit center. Corporate boards have found they can often realize a better return on investing in influencing government policies than by modernizing machinery, better advertising or building new plants.

Example: It is generally accepted throughout the business world that bulk purchasing is rewarded with lower unit pricing. But in 2000 drug industry lobbyists succeeded in attaching to the Medicare Part D Bill, a prescription drug plan, a stipulation that denies bulk purchasing cost benefits to its largest customer, the U.S. Government. That is the very epitome of the restraint of trade and it went virtually unchallenged. We must take our country back.

I say "take our country back;" most of us have never really possessed it. Our political system has been rigged from its very inception against the average income voter, independents and third parties by the undemocratic Electoral College, congressional district gerrymandering and the Senate filibuster.

Obama led a strong economic recovery but made few substantive changes other than the controversial, politically-vulnerable ACA (Obamacare) which hasn't live up to expectations. And Hillary mostly promised more of the same and failed to connect with the Obama majority, although it was still there. Today Trump offers little more than a narcissistic ego indulgence which could do (and has done already!) considerable harm whenever it leaks over into international affairs. Recent events both here and abroad indicate both our president and our nation are in dire need of adult supervision. But from where will it come?

George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at