Backroom deals we all know as those secret agreements, blatant bribery, exclusive contracts and quid pro quo deals between politicians, business and special interests that guide their behavior privately and give them an advantage over others. When some find success by breaking the rules that everyone else are supposed to follow, that’s cheating. It’s unjust to have an advantage over others in a system where opportunity is supposed to be equal.
We have laws and moral principles in America that are supposed to guide us, and we’ve been taught since we were young that bribery and corruption are not okay. But the truth is that some people have great advantage while most will never be able to lift themselves out of poverty. The discrepancy between what we claim America to be about and what it really is about is so large, that decency demands we acknowledge it.
Unfair advantage is just one truth about backroom deals. This essay seeks to briefly show several other significant consequences of the backroom deal philosophy on our society. All of the effects reinforce the welfare and power of the people at the top who are already doing good.
Erosion of Democracy
When lawmakers respond to money and the elite rather than their constituents, eventually, a system meant to represent the interests of all people erodes into an oligarchy, where most of the power resides in the hands of the rich few because of their ability to be heard.
The rich continue to gain favor while the preferences of most people in society get overlooked. The average Joe is left to fend for himself in a pretend world where his supposedly equal voice is silenced by the unfair advantage of his competitors. Therefore, this Democracy doesn’t work for him, and most people.
Betrayal of the Public Trust
We the public trust that our political leaders are elected to represent our interests. But when we see special interest groups gain more of an advantage because of their greater resources, we feel betrayed. We trusted that things in our Democracy were going to work for our best interests to help us lead a quality life but that is not the case. Our trust has been abused.
Democracy requires the participation of the represented in order to be effective. When people know their government is corrupted they are less inclined to participate in their civic and communal duties.
Citizens become apathetic because no one believes things will get better or change. A why bother? attitude of the majority population is perfect for those at the top because that means the masses – the only force that could really challenge the power of the elite because of their sheer numbers – will not utilize their power.
The prevalence of backroom deals sets a bad moral standard for our society. Children, teenagers and college students come to maturity in a society that shows them it is necessary to cheat to gain advantage over others.
If there are bribery and secret deals all over the place but we just let it continue then the example our society’s actions set for new generations is: get ahead by any means just don’t get caught, and make sure to pretend like you are doing nothing wrong. That’s what fraud is, and that’s the opposite of integrity.
So-called free-market capitalism creates classes of poor people because economics values a person based on their ability to work. Since some people are justifiably physically or mentally unable to provide labor, their needs will of course not be met by this system. Welfare becomes necessary, unless we want to just let them die, which is almost what we do.
The truth about welfare programs in America is that they do just enough so that we can claim to be doing something to help people, but not enough to ensure a basic quality of life for all people. Poverty and homelessness continues until poor people have a strong voice, so if money and power is what makes people listen then poor people will have to wait to be heard.
A Higher Vision For the Future
To conclude, let’s take what we know and replace it with a positive vision for a better future. Open corruption is a low moral standard that serves only the privileged few, harms most, and is not even close to the highest standard we can achieve for ourselves as a system of collective rule. So what can we do instead?
Assuming people are basically good, we must appeal to their higher nature. We ought to seek a decent living for all people because that is what we can do.
Being alive is inherently valuable and therefore everyone deserves to live a good life. If we can provide the basic needs we all have through the taxes we are already paying, then this frees us to create things, travel places, socialize and genuinely focus on quality-of-life activities. Can’t we agree that sounds good?
We can get even more money by closing tax loopholes, enforcing regulations against business, and increasing the white-collar crime task forces. And transparency in government can help us actually enforce truth and honesty and hold leaders accountable to a higher level of integrity. If we can remove the dominance of special interests and restore trust in government we would see a natural rise in democratic participation.
Also, let’s dial back the advertising and mindless television and focus more seriously on quality information. The consequences of our actions are important so let’s tell the truth to ourselves about the life we are living and not be too distracted to listen.
Cheating is not a virtue. Until backroom deals are a thing of the past, cheaters will win and the rest of us will continue suffering. Let’s bring back integrity and end backroom deals.
So now you’ve read the article, have a listen to my song. It’s a rock/blues song called, “(You Got A) Backroom Deal.”