Saturday, May 14, 2011

After approving NBC buyout...

From Ars Technica:
Meredith Attwell Baker, one of the two Republican Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, plans to step down—and right into a top lobbying job at Comcast-NBC.

The news, reported this afternoon by the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, comes after the hugely controversial merger of Comcast and NBC earlier this year. At the time, Baker objected to FCC attempts to impose conditions on the deal and argued that the "complex and significant transaction" could "bring exciting benefits to consumers that outweigh potential harms."

Four months after approving the massive transaction, Attwell Baker will take a top DC lobbying job for the new Comcast-NBC entity, according to reports.

Could it be any clearer that much of our government is for sale to the highest bidder? As a public official, Attwell Baker argues vociferously on Comcast's behalf,... and is rewarded just four months later with a very lucrative job. That's not coincidence. If she'd opposed the merger, do you really think she'd have been offered this position?

But then, Republicans believe in government by corporation. In Citizens United, right-wing Republicans on the Supreme Court overturned precedent to let corporations donate unlimited sums of money to political campaigns. After all, aren't corporations just people - very, very wealthy people - too?

Of course, corporations aren't people. All of the decisions in a corporation are made by actual people. But the people making the decisions aren't necessarily the people who own the corporation. If you own shares of stock or mutual funds - say in your retirement plan? - then you own parts of these corporations. But you don't control them. Other people control them.

So a wealthy CEO can now spend your money, in effect, for whatever purposes he likes. Is it any surprise that he'll tend to like politicians who promise to cut taxes on the rich? "Corporations" don't make these decisions, people do. And now, they don't even have to use their own money!

Sure, if you own a lot of shares of stock in a particular corporation, then you'll have some influence over this. So wealthy Chinese or Saudi Arabians might have some real influence over which American politician gets corporate support. But you? Not at all. Heck, if you own mutual funds, you might not even know which corporations you (partially) own. But that's still your money they're using to buy politicians for their own benefit.

Now Republicans consider wealth itself to be a virtue. A very wealthy man is just better than the rest of us, no matter how he got the money. Did you just inherit your money from a wealthy grandfather? No problem. That still shows you're better than everyone else. Clearly, God wanted you to be rich.

So Meredith Attwell Baker is doing exactly the right thing, in their eyes. First, she stood up for a big corporation, which is always right by Republican thinking. And then, she got a lucrative position with them, which makes her wealthier. And since being wealthy is virtuous in itself, she becomes a better person from that alone.

It's win/win. You may think it's corrupt - and it is - but if you buy into Republican thinking, it's exactly the right thing to do.

And human nature being what it is, I'm sure that Attwell Baker doesn't think she did anything wrong, either. It's always easy to justify what benefits you, yourself. It's always easy to believe what we really want to believe.

No comments: