HIGHTOWER: Washington's Legalized Bribery

Like myopics who can't see the forest for the trees, the US Senators investigating the campaign corruption of the White House are so focused on a couple-of-hundred-thousand dollars supposedly funneled into last year's presidential election by the Chinese ... that they are missing a huge forest of corruption looming right in front of them.Our political and governmental systems are putrid not with Chinese contributions, but with corporate money, yet this pollution goes uninspected. That's because these millions in corruption funds are technically "legal," made so by the very lawmakers now professing such outrage over a pittance from the Chinese. It's legal for oil, banking, chemical, media and other conglomerates to put millions in the pockets of politicians and get special favors in return.But let's just deal today with foreign money in the American system. The senators are obsessed with China's rulers trying to buy influence, but they are a piker compared to the British. Just four British corporate powerhouses -- drugmaker SmithKline, chemical giant Zeneca, oil producer BP and tobacco heavy Brown & Williamson -- put more than $8 million into U.S. elections and lobbying last year. A single Swiss drugmaker, Glaxo Wellcome, put up more than $7 million.And if you want a gross example of a foreign government buying favorable U.S. policies, look no further than Mexico. The ruling oligarchy there spent $30 million to get the NAFTA deal it wanted in 1993, hiring 44 Washington PR and lobbying firms, including purchasing the insider influence of 33 former U.S. officials.Indeed, foreign governments and corporations spend more than a billion dollars a year in campaign contributions and lobbying to get policies from Washington that favor them.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Chasing a few Chinese dollars is ludicrous. Real reform requires stopping the legalized bribery.Source:"Foreigners pump out $1 billion yearly to sway U.S. policy the legal way" by Andrew Mollison. Austin American-Statesman: July 28, 1997.

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