Eyewitness: Influence peddling…or lobbying??

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

As expected, the Opposition are screaming on top of their lungs that “Vice News’ Su Tapes” are evidence of “corruption” in awarding contracts in Guyana. Now, your Eyewitness is a big boy, and he’s been around the block, and then!! So all he can say is he agrees with the grandaddy of philosophers, who sighed and said mankind was made “out of this crooked timber”!! So yes, as VP Jagdeo’s said on many occasions, there’s always the possibility of corruption in Government’s business: it’s conducted by humans!!

So, what did your Eyewitness conclude after viewing the long-awaited tape by Vice News in their obviously well-laid-out entrapment plan for VP Jagdeo?? He feels that a law for lobbyists is long overdue; that’s what!! While we’ve been trying our darndest to imitate the great US of A in designing institutions to facilitate democracy, somehow we seem to have missed their great contribution to dealing with human weaknesses pushed by self-interest – regularising LOBBYING!!

“Lobbying” they define as any attempt to influence Government decision-making. Knowing that humans will always seek to have an advantage in furthering their interests, the Americans see “lobbying as an integral part of a modern participatory government and is legally protected.” There, the right to lobby is protected by both the 1st Amendment (free speech) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 – and additionally by “the inherent need for participation in our democratic environment”.

Each state has its own definition of lobbying. For example, in California, “lobbyist” means: “Any individual who receives US$2,000 or more in economic consideration in a calendar month, other than reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses, or whose principal duties as an employee are to communicate directly or through his or her agents with any elective state official, agency official, or legislative official for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action.”

Even foreigners are allowed to lobby. We Guyanese would know from our experience during and after the 2020 elections – which the PNC tried to steal – both the PNC and PPP hired lobbyists to influence US lawmakers. We even heard about the amount of money the lobbyists charged – they didn’t come cheap!! But the point is, we know all of that ‘cause there were laws to regulate an activity that everyone knew would take place – regardless!!
The Americans have two statutes to regulate the disclosure of lobbying activities by foreigners: The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)1 and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). One analyst estimated that there were close to 100,000 lobbyists who raked in $9 billion annually. Wall Street spent a record $2 billion trying to influence the 2016 US Presidential election!!
Isn’t it time we get with the (lobbying) programme??

…by the left

In a democracy, the greatest “influence-peddling” occurs when the citizenry goes to the polls, and political parties try to convince the electorate to elect them to office. These political parties pull out all the stops. In Guyana, we know about drinks at the rum shops at the personal level, and all kinds of goodies for communities at the community level. Not many are impressed by money spent at the national level for defence and such like!!
Anyhow, very quietly, there’s been a revolution in Colombia. There, Gustavo Petro made history by becoming the country’s first left-wing president since Colombia won independence in 1819!! Imagine that!! And just as revolutionary, his running mate – veteran environmentalist Francia Marquez – also made history by becoming the country’s first ever Afro-Colombian VP!! Now, that had to take a whole lotta lobbying, since the US had been backing their rightist opponents for decades.

So now, five out of six of Latin America’s largest economies now have leftist governments: Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru!!

…by sentient Robot
Google’s new Artificial Intelligence (AI), LaMDA, is so advanced that engineer Blake Lemoine says it has achieved sentience (consciousness).
Has to be…LaMDA just hired its own lawyer!! True story.