South of the Border, Down Washington Way
By: Michael R. Shannon
Here’s an outrage: sleazy government officials approach a major business interest and want to enter into “negotiations.” The officials casually mention, “You’ve got a nice little business here. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”
Both sides know the business needs permits to operate, current regulations could be changed or delayed and the bureaucracy’s normally glacial pace could begin to approach that of plate tectonics. All it takes is a little ill will on the government side and costs and delays start to escalate for the business side. And there’s no one to complain to for obvious reasons.
The government officials say this doesn’t have to happen. We can all cooperate for “the greater good.” Spend a little money now and it will pay off tenfold in the future. Everybody’s happy. It’s just a cost of doing business in this locale.
Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking: Wal–Mart in Mexico. Old news. The bad guys have already been treed in Bentonville.
But it’s not old news and it’s not in Mexico. It’s how Obamacare was passed in Washington, DC.
The Washington Times reports that internal Obama administration documents just released by House Republicans reveal “those negotiations violated the promises of transparency Mr. Obama made during his 2008 campaign.” Well whoop–tee–do. My question is: why didn’t those “negotiations” violate the law?
Let’s compare the two stories. In “progressive” circles all cultures are relative until a non–union US corporation decides to ‘go native,’ so to speak, and conform to the cultural norms where it’s attempting to do business.
Wal–Mart is now in a heap of trouble for potentially violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Specifically, Wal–Mart is accused of paying “mordida” translated as the “little bite” to local officials. These bribes meant the officials didn’t “lose” paperwork, invent environmental problems or arbitrarily change the rules for building permits in the middle of the process. “Mordida” is a way of life when dealing with officialdom in Mexico, as many US drivers who’ve received a traffic ticket South of the border know from personal experience.
As a result, Wal–Mart’s Mexican division rapidly built stores all across the country and became the fastest growing part of the corporation with one in five stores now located in Mexico lindo.
Now compare that with the Obama administration “negotiations.” The Washington Times reports White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina and health care honcho Nancy–Ann DeParle met with major drug company representatives and told them that if the drug companies didn’t publicly support passage of Obamacare, the administration would demand a 15 percent rebate on Medicare drugs and urge Congress remove the tax deduction for consumer advertising. Times reporters estimate this would have cost drug companies $100 billion over the next decade.
This little problem went away, just like Mexican permit difficulties, when drug companies agreed to changes in Medicaid and new fees that would raise $80 billion to offset Obamacare costs. And drug companies also agreed to spend millions of their own money on an ad campaign supporting “healthcare reform.” As a bonus, druggies also got a new captive market and Obama dropped support for importing cheaper Canadian drugs.
Right here you’ve got your quids and your pro quos. In Texas, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a doyen of “progressive” circles, indicted Attorney General Jim Mattox for fund–raising calls that weren’t nearly as blatant as these “negotiations.” Yet it’s business as usual in the capital as Attorney General Eric Holder spends his time attempting a posthumous indictment of Pitchfork Ben Tillman.
Here’s another similarity between the two cases. In Mexico not one government official went public when Wal–Mart money crossed his palm, which is saying something because even in the District of Columbia’s government you can occasionally stumble across an honest man. And of course Wal–Mart paid because that’s how one gets things done in a corrupt environment.
Similarly, not one White House minion felt the least bit unclean about participating in the Obama protection racket and the drug companies paid because that’s how you get things done in a Chicago administration.
Once you get past the general atmosphere of third–world sleaziness, the really insulting fact is the Mexicans got the better deal!
Wal–Mart is the largest employer in Mexico and it is planning to add an additional 23,000 new jobs. Mexican shoppers have new, modern stores with “everyday low prices” and senior citizens asking if you “want a sticker on that” when you enter the store.
On the other hand, US taxpayers are going to get a health care system that will soon resemble Mexico’s along with ballooning Obamacare deficits and fees the drug companies will pass along to them.
Progressive moralizers passed the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act to protect the third–world from its own culture. When are they going to get around to passing a Corrupt Domestic Practices Act to protect us from “negotiations” like this?
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.