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“Surely by now there can be few here who still believe the purpose of government is to protect us from the destructive activities of corporations. At last most of us must understand that the opposite is true: that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.” (Derrick Jensen)
Regulatory Capture in Advanced Nations
We saw in earlier posts that corporations use a system of bribery known as lobbying to manipulate laws and corporate regulations. They work with propaganda experts to fool us, and many politicians, into believing that corporate regulation is a bad thing. They are the dominant force in writing trade rules, so they create rules that favor themselves.
There is widespread evidence that corporations have influence over the regulators who are supposed to enforce the laws governing those corporations. When the financial system collapsed in 2008, it became clear that the financial regulator in the UK, the FSA, was unfit for purpose.(1) Instead of seeing themselves in a policing role, they saw themselves as ‘enablers’ of corporate activity. This allowed financial companies to engage in all manner of unethical and criminal activity.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to protect the environment, but its links to corporations are so strong that it fails to police polluting corporations effectively, and it is actively trying to weaken regulations protecting the environment.(2) Many of their scientific advisors receive funding from corporations, so their opinions are unlikely to be unbiased.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) represents both the consumer, and the food and drug industries, and receives much of its funding from industry. This has been compared to the police getting their funding from the mafia. Many FDA personnel come from the pharmaceutical industry. Pressure from corporations has caused it to fail in its duty to look after the public and allow drugs that are banned in much of the rest of the advanced world. The painkiller Vioxx was known to be dangerous and caused many deaths but the FDA failed to ban it.