If you want a great insight into how the lobbying game works in Washington, D.C., take a look at a very insightful article entitled “Mickey Goes to Washington” by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, which appeared in last Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine. The article focuses on the process by which Walt Disney Parks and Resort and other big-business members of the U.S. tourism industry have been using well-heeled Washington lobbyists in an attempt to persuade members of Congress to allocate U.S. taxpayer funds to promote U.S. tourism to foreigners.
Recognizing that the U.S. government’s Iraq War had damaged America’s credibility abroad, Disney and its lobbying coalition argued that foreigners should be encouraged to come to America to see how nice Americans really are. The Disney coalition even views its efforts as a joint public-private exercise in U.S. diplomacy.
In other words, while the U.S. government continues to kill and maim people in Iraq, a country that never attacked the United States, Big Business will use U.S. taxpayer money to induce foreigners to visit Disneyland and other U.S. tourist sites to show that Americans are actually very kind and caring people.
So, why didn’t Disney and the members of its lobbying coalition simply come out with an open attack on the federal government’s invasion and occupation of Iraq? Why not also, at the same time, openly go on the attack against its prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, its kidnapping and renditions, its torture and sex abuse of prisoners and detainees, its kangaroo military tribunals, and its denial of due process? Why not attack the federal government’s attempt to isolate the private sector from the rest of the world, with its stringent visa requirements, its fingerprinting of tourists, and the building of walls around the United States?
Wouldn’t bringing all wrongdoing to a screeching halt be a much better, more direct, and more honest way to improve America’s image abroad? And given that American taxpayers are already getting fleeced to fund Iraq, where’s the justice in fleecing them more to subsidize the tourist industry?
Why wouldn’t American businessmen take the more direct approach rather than the indirect approach of using lobbyists in an attempt to further fleece the American people? Well, there could be a number of reasons, but a likely one is that these businessmen are just plain scared to take on the federal government, for the following possible reasons:
1. Disney and the members of its tourism coalition know that Congress would deny their application for taxpayer funding if they were to criticize U.S. foreign policy.
2. They know that the federal government could take away tax breaks and other privileges that the federal government has bestowed on the tourism industry.
3. They know that the federal government indicted Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio for regulatory violations after he refused to cooperate in the illegal transfer of customer information to the federal government and that the feds are fighting fiercely to secure immunity for those telecommunications companies that cooperated with the illegality.
4. They know that the federal government could go after any big company that gets out of line, for technical violations of Sarbanes Oxley or, for that matter, the IRS code.
Thus, in the regulatory world under which American businesses now operate, businessmen find it in their interests to keep their mouths shut about the horrific things that the U.S. government, with U.S. taxpayer money, is doing to people overseas.
To mitigate the adverse effects of such things, however, American businessmen attempt to further fleece the American people by arguing that a taxpayer subsidy to the tourism industry will show foreigners that despite what the federal government is doing to the Iraqi people, private Americans are kind and caring people at Disney World and other U.S. tourist sites.
Apparently, that’s what passes for “courage, principle, and patriotism” within the American business community today.