By Dr. Mercola
One of my favorite TV shows is 60 Minutes. I have watched it regularly for over 40 years. It is the only series I record on my DVR.
I do this because occasionally they air segments that are shocking insights into the reality that rarely reached conventional media channels due to suppression.
I am really shocked and surprised that this video was ever aired.
It is a rare look behind the scenes at just how corrupt the US political system really is.
CBS News correspondent, Lesley Stahl, was so visibly shaken, it seemed like if she'd had a baseball bat handy, she just might have used it on Abramoff.
Not so much because she was angry with him, but with the system he represents.
Interestingly, 60 Minutes aired another insight into the corrupted political process and showed how many in Congress perform insider trades from privileged information they have access to. And it's legal for them to do so.
Any other private citizen would serve serious prison time for doing this, but Congressmen get to brag as to how much they made from their insider trades. Warning, this video may make you violently ill from disgust
Secrets of Bribing US Congressman Revealed
By plying Congressmen and their staffers with gifts, from meals to use of private jets, Abramoff was able to have significant influence over about 100 congressional offices—a failure, according to his own standards, as there were still 355 offices that he did not control.
In return for gifts and special treatment, the Congressional members he had pocketed would vote yes for legislation and tax breaks that were favorable for his clients.
It was easy—and lucrative. Abramoff made about $5 million per year during his lobbying heydays. Then, five years ago, it all caved in. After a very public scandal, he pled guilty to corrupting public officials, tax evasion and fraud.
He served three-and-a-half years in a medium security prison in Maryland. He now blames his unscrupulous actions on being so far into debt that he lost his ability to discern right from wrong. In fact, at the time, he believed he was one of the more honest lobbyists around. He claims he was "blinded" by what was going on, and states that virtually all Congressmen are able to rationalize their behavior as well. They don't necessarily feel guilty at all about the fact that what they're doing is undermining the basic structure of the United States.
If this doesn't disturb you, I don't know what will—especially when you consider that as of 2011, there are an estimated 12,220 other Abramoff's out there lobbying Congress and federal agencies for various industries.
Which Industry has the Greatest Control on Capitol Hill?
The pharmaceutical industry is the BIGGEST political lobby in the US. There should be no doubt about the power the drug industry wields in shaping the U.S. health care system, and political lobbying is one of the primary reasons why the drug companies are controlling nearly the entire the health industry.
Last year, the pharmaceutical industry as a whole spent over $244 million on lobbying, and that's just the dollars-and-cents influence that what was reported. As Abramoff explains, there are other methods that are FAR more effective for getting desired results, which I'll get to in a moment. In addition, federal candidates received over $15 million in political contributions last year.
The lobbying expenditures and political contributions for the top three pharmaceutical companies for last year were as follows:
||over $6 million
||nearly $7.6 million
|Election cycle political contributions
||over $1.1 million
Compare this to the biotech industry giant like Monsanto, which spent about $5 million on their lobbying efforts in 2010.
All of this adds up to some serious cash. In just one decade, from 1998 to 2008, the pharmaceutical industry alone spent $1.5 BILLION on lobbying for legislative favors and tax breaks. And that's just one industry, albeit the most generous one!
Is it any wonder that so few of our laws make sense anymore?
The pharmaceutical industry's power and influence over government, the field of conventional medicine, and your mind through massive marketing efforts, is in a class of its own. It's just that most people don't realize the staggering magnitude of their financial influence, and therefore are blinded and deceived by the manipulated perception that the industry is "helping mankind."
Lobbying Pays Off BIG Time
Although the dollars the pharmaceutical companies spend on lobbying are astronomical by most people's standards, they pale in comparison to the profits this industry generates. And there can be little doubt that their stratospheric profits are in large part due to the financial influence and control they wield over Congressional members and other federal agencies.
As of 2009, the global market for pharmaceuticals was worth more than $837 billion, and is expected to reach $1.1 TRILLION in 2014.
A trillion dollars is one million million…
To put these mind-boggling numbers into a more comprehensive perspective, the pharmaceutical industry is worth more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of 168 different nations on this planet (individually, not collectively). That's right—if Big Pharma's global market was compared to the GDP—the market value of all the output produced in a nation in one year—then Big Pharma would rank # 15 on a list of 183 nations.
That's how BIG a $1.1 trillion dollar industry is!
The MOST Effective Lobbying Does Not Involve Money…
The vast amounts of money spent on lobbying, however, is not the most effective lobbying strategy. The ultimate "weapon" doesn't involve gifts or money exchanging hands at the time. No, according to Abramoff, the BEST way to get a Congressman or Senator to do his bidding was to extend a lucrative job offer. For example, promising a staffer a job once they were done serving the Hill—which could triple their salary—would always seal the deal. As Abramoff says, from that point on, he "owned" them, and whatever he wanted done for his clients was done… and then some.
Lobbyists often craft purposefully nebulous language to change the US code to specific ends of industry, and these amendments are then snuck into various bills, which no one read before passing.
The same shenanigans occur between other federal agencies and drug companies. For example, the revolving door between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various drug companies and other industries, such as the biotech industry, has done untold damage to public health and health freedom. It is very common for high-ranking FDA officials to get lucrative consulting positions with the drug companies after they quit.
The converse is also very common. Federal officials can get paid millions by the drug companies before they make the switch over to the FDA, like the current FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg did with Henry Schein.
Is There a Solution to This Travesty?
"Our system is flawed, and has to be fixed," Abramoff says. "Human beings populate our system, and human beings are weak."
And lobbyists are masters at preying on those weaknesses. After the scandal that sent Abramoff to jail, Congress instituted a package of reforms to stop this kind of bribery and corruption.
But according to Abramoff, nothing has changed.
"They're faux reform efforts," he says, because the people making the reforms are the ones affected by them! For example, you can no longer legally take a Congressman out to dinner or lunch—as long as it's a sit-down meal. But if the meal is consumed standing up, it's still perfectly legal. So a lobbyist can take a Congressman to a fancy fundraiser serving finger-food, and hand them a large check, and it's perfectly within the law.
According to Abramoff, in order to have even a remote chance of ending this kind of corruption, we must first prohibit all members of Congress and their staff from ever becoming a lobbyist after their service on the Hill is over…
The good news is that increasing numbers of people are now waking up to these harsh realities, and you, being among those who are informed, can help share this knowledge with others. Remember that the definition of fascism is a government system that has complete power in regimenting all industry and forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism. What we have here is a hybrid—a sort of corporate fascism, where industry has powerful control over government, and forcefully suppresses anything that threatens their monopoly on profits.
This is one of the reasons I was so surprised to see this interview on CBS. I was fairly convinced that the government had more control over the media and would prevent the airing of this type of information.
But, this doesn't mean that you have to buy into their agenda.
The goal is to ultimately have a critical mass of people refuse the unnecessarily dangerous and counterproductive solutions currently offered by conventional medicine, and demand that our public servants serve the public rather than corporate interests. That will serve as the powerful stimulus to generate authentic change.
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