Found in 9 comments on Hacker News
coldtea · 2015-10-12 · Original thread
Maybe it's because of coming from a European background, but this kind of questions are quite baffling for me. I know you mean well, but I find that the idea that corporations do this kind of thing doesn't need any more proof than the fact that the earth is round.

If one follows the news, there are constant reminders of this kind of lobbying going on (corporations asking for special treatment, especially when it comes to taxes) for a whole century. Besides a lot of this is done right out in the open. I mean coorporate lobbying was invented exactly for that -- to push governments for favorable laws, special treatment, laxer environmental and other protections, etc. On top of that, there are all kinds of under-the-table deals (with lots of them exposed frequently) with politicians and corporations.

That said, here are some pointers to the issue. First the general Wikipedia article:

A number of published studies showed lobbying expenditures can yield great financial returns. For example, a study of the 50 firms that spent the most on lobbying relative to their assets compared their financial performance against that of the S&P 500 in the stock market concluded that spending on lobbying was a "spectacular investment" yielding "blistering" returns comparable to a high-flying hedge fund, even despite the financial downturn of the past few years. A 2011 meta-analysis of previous research findings found a positive correlation between corporate political activity and firm performance. Finally, a 2009 study found that lobbying brought a substantial return on investment, as much as 22,000% in some cases.

And the US specific one:

The Atlantic:

The Guardian:

National Review:




Oxford University Press:

Lawrence Lessig:

The Influence Machine: The Influence Machine: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Capture of American Life

Lobbying America:

And those are "establishment" sources -- you'd get far better coverage in more outspoken and critical voices.

Regarding Apple in particular:

taliesinb · 2013-05-29 · Original thread
> if you're going to launder money, you should launder a whole shitload of it

Yes. Or rather, if you're going to launder money, make sure you're making healthy campaign contributions, hiring ex-politicians and their staffers as lobbyists, oiling the great lobbying machine, etc...

For those who haven't read it, Lessig has written a rather nice book on exactly how this kind of "soft corruption" works:

mayneack · 2013-04-07 · Original thread
I would recommend reading Lessig's book Republic Lost [1], it's very short and is very quick to discuss that "getting money out" is not the only thing that matters.

To your point, you're right that restricting money is often worse for challengers than incumbents. This is because the challengers need to spend money to get their name out and prove they're "serious" as opposed to the incumbents who already have name recognition and can get attention without spending money. However, the issue that he's talking about is different (though related). The problem is that both incumbents and challengers require some small subset of people to support them and fund them.

diego · 2013-03-26 · Original thread
2. Is the subject of Republic Lost by Larry Lessig. I could not recommend that book enough.

hkmurakami · 2013-03-07 · Original thread
Lawrence Lessig provides a great description of how our representatives "rush in" in time to vote and then rush out immediately to make more phone calls to solicit contributions.

nathanmarz · 2012-10-14 · Original thread
The article only touches on lobbying, but that's the key mechanism by which wealthier people gain an unfair influence on government. As campaigns have gotten more expensive, the system selects for those politicians that raise enormous amounts of money – people who cater to the lobbyists. Lawrence Lessig did a phenomenal job breaking down the campaign finance / lobbying problem in his book Republic, Lost:

I also found the Lawrence Lessig / Jack Abramoff interview very illuminating in understanding the corrupting influence of money on government. It's long but worth watching:

portman · 2012-02-01 · Original thread
Larry Lessig (the same guy who single-handedly designed Creative Commons) has spent the last 4 years investigating how to "stop this racket", and summarizes his thoughts in this book:

If you want to know what to do, a nice first step would be to buy and read Republic, Lost.

jjguy · 2012-01-20 · Original thread
Technology's favorite lawyer, Lawrence Lessig, has a new book out advocating for campaign finance reform. Like most things from Lessig, his arguments are well-considered, balanced and thought-provoking.

He includes a quote I found particularly compelling, especially in the light of Marco's link between 'the next SOPA' and campaign finance reform: For every one striking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root. - Thoreau. Marco wants us to strike the root.


NYTimes review:

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