This page is part of the Politics of Noise portion of Section Five:
which is the Activist section of

Who Stole Your Right to a Quiet Home

The truth is that, as an American, your right to a quiet home was not so much stolen as it was purchased out from under you by special interest groups. It was really much easier for the special interests to do that than you might imagine, because throughout the United States, for all practical purposes, bribery is legal. Does that sound like an exaggeration? Consider the following.

Imagine that a lobbyist gives a politician an expensive gift or a vast amount of money. Then, right after the money changes hands, the politician takes official action that benefits the person who paid the money, at the expense of the American people. Legally speaking, is that bribery? No, not in the USA, it's not.

Legally speaking, a politician is deemed to have succumbed to bribery only if there is an explicit quid pro quo agreement. In other words, it is only considered to be bribery if the briber explicitly says to the bribee: "I'm giving you this money as payment for a yes vote on the house floor tomorrow."

However, lobbyists are professional bagmen. They know it is illegal to explicitly offer a bribe, and they also know that there is no need to do so, because when the lobbyist calls on the politico the day before the big vote and drops off a check for a half million dollars, the politician knows what is expected. There is certainly no need for the lobbyist to explain to the lawmaker why he is making a gift of an astounding amount of money just before the big vote.

If you're naive enough you may be thinking to yourself: That may be true, but surely that sort of thing can't be happening very often. Unfortunately, it can and it does. In D.C., as throughout the rest of the nation, it has become a pay-for-play system in which the judicial process and public policy are for sale, and there is no move underway to stop it that has any real chance for success.

Imagine a scenario in which the police are unable to arrest a crack dealer for selling the drug, even if they have proof positive that the dealer accepted a customer's money and then immediately handed them the drug. Imagine a scenario in which the police could only arrest the crack dealer if they could prove that those specific words were said: "Here, I'm giving you this money in exchange for the drug that you are about to give me." Obviously, an ordinance like that would, for all practical purposes, amount to the legalization of the sale of crack cocaine.

Well, that's just exactly how the bribery laws are in the nation's capitol. It is not enough to show that money and/or valuable gifts changed hands and that, soon thereafter, the deed was done. Prosecutors must prove that the magic words were spoken, which is why I say that, for all practical purposes, it is legal to bribe a public official in Washington D.C., you just have to do it in the accepted fashion.

In fact, right around half of all the people who retire from congress and the senate do so to take a job as a lobbyist, working for one of the corporations that lobbied them while they were in office, for an average salary of about two million dollars a year. If you're a government official, and you want that money and those free gifts to keep coming, and you want that lucrative lobbying job waiting for you when you leave office, well, you know what you have to do. There is no need for any explicit agreement to be struck.

When you Limit Noise, You Limit Business

For almost any type of noise you might care to name, including barking dogs, you'll find some lobbyist meeting behind closed doors with a politician, handing out gifts and cash by the bucketful, in an effort to make sure that no legislation gets passed that might interfere with their customers enjoyment of their product.

You leave a message for your congressman and ask him to ban snowmobiles so that you can enjoy your wintertime home in serene quiet. Or, perhaps you write a letter asking your senator to do something about dirt bike noise, so that you can sleep in your country home on your day off.

But the lobbyists for the snowmobile industry show up in person, perhaps offering a golf trip to Scotland. And the representatives from the dirt bike industry arrive ready to give the guy enough money to get him reelected. While the lobbyist for the manufacturer of some other noise-intense product is ready to cut the senator in on a business deal that is going to make him fabulously wealthy. How much does your letter count for when weighed against all of that?

That is the problem, then. Money is the mother's milk of politics, as well as the root of all evil, and the mixture has given us a political system in which the wants of moneyed donors come always before the well-being of the American people.

That is what has subverted our democracy, and transformed it into the extreme corpocracy that it has become. And that is how you lost your chance to live in a quiet home. It was purchased out from under you by business interests, who bought it from politicians, who were too weak to resist a system that facilitates corruption at every turn.

Go forward to read about How your right to a quiet home was stolen

This page is part of the Politics of Noise portion of Section Five:
which is the Activist section of