Public confidence in the U.S. House and Senate is at an all-time low, and, after last week’s Supreme Court decision, it’s bound to sink even lower. On January 19th (the day before the decision), Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig returned to Stanford and highlighted the degree to which “institutional corruption” — in the form of lobbyists and corporate influence — pervades Congress, dictates legislation, and brings large sums of money to campaigns and, yes, even representatives’ personal bank accounts. (Roughly 50% of U.S. Senators become lobbyists, working for industries they once assisted politically, and earn substantial incomes.) The talk, accompanied by a rapid fire PowerPoint presentation, runs a solid hour and details various instances in which lobbyists have shaped unfathomably bad legislation. Happily, the talk also ends with Lessig outlining possible solutions. Policy changes can offer some answers. But, a lot of it comes down to this: getting the passive privileged to rein in a corrupted elite.
Note: To see Lessig’s immediate response to the SCOTUS decision, look here.