Thursday, August 18, 2011

Atlas Stopped Lobbying

This isn’t quite an Ayn Rand moment, but it might be the closest we’ve come to what she wrote about in “Atlas Shrugged:” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz stopping political contributions until, as he told the New York Stock Exchange, “Congress and the President return to Washington and deliver a fiscally disciplined long term debt and deficit plan to the American people.”

A number of things could happen here, going from most likely to least likely:

1)      Absofarkly nothing. Shultz’s stand will be a flash in the pan and nobody else will follow it, including Starbucks.
2)      A few will forestall contributions while people like me, who have never pried our wallets open far enough to make a political contribution, will just go on typing.
3)      A small group of companies will forego making contributions with the political machine not noticing one whit because of contributions coming in from other sources.
4)      Atlas will stop lobbying and politicians will have to take evening and weekend jobs as burger-flippers to fill in the gaps in their income stream left by the absence of lobbying cash.

For this kind of thing to work, it would have to be all or nothing. Or at least a significant portion. And those who abstained would have to put up with the fact that the non-abstainers would suddenly see an increase in their influence in Washington. It’s also unclear here if Schultz is calling for an end to all political contributions, including lobbying, or if it’s just contributions to political campaigns made to politicians directly, rather than say through PACs. Again, it’s got to be all or nothing.

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