HIGHTOWER: Corporations Buy the Conventions

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that major corporations in need of major favors from the White House, Congress, and other governmental agencies, are pouring major bucks into the two national conventions. AT&T (lobbying for control of the long distance phone market), Lockheed Martin (lobbying for more Pentagon money), General Motors (lobbying for more global trade deals), Ernst & Young (lobbying for lax financial regulation), and Microsoft (lobbying to keep its monopoly position) are among the dozen corporations underwriting both conventions. Microsoft, for example, already has given more than $500,000 to host the Republican convention in Philadelphia, and the same sum to host the Democrats in Los Angeles.

This kind of payola not only puts the corporate stamp on the consciousness and consciences of both parties, but it also buys special access for the CEOs and lobbyists of the favor-seeking companies. While the charade of democracy plays out on the convention floor, these executives will be in private skyboxes and at closed functions, wining and dining the nominees and top lawmakers of the two parties. As one CEO told the Inquirer when asked to explain why her company would sponsor both conventions: "We need these folks to know who we are."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Republican and Democratic conventions once were important democracy, choosing the nominees, writing the platforms, and debating big issues. But today, they're political farces. The delegates are nothing but stage props for the TV show, while political and corporate powerbrokers meet behind the scenes to assure that plutocracy rules, despite the public pretensions of democracy.

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