Sample Philosophy Essay on Political Contributions

Political Contributions

Introduction

Dow Chemical is a company founded in 1897 by Herbert Henry Dow, a chemist from Canada. Since then, the company has been manufacturing chemicals, agricultural products and plastics, headquartered in Midland, Michigan. Dow Chemical has grown over the years, as evidenced by its operations in more than 160 countries in the world and almost 55,000 employees. In terms of sales, 25% of Dow’s income comes from plastics manufactured for automotive and constructions industries. 17% of the income comes from the sales of chemicals and other materials useful in purifying water, coating papers, pharmaceuticals, paints, and electronics. Agricultural products like herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides account for almost 7% of the total sales for the company. Dow also manufactures some of the basic plastics used in diaper liners and bottles that account for 26% of the sales. Other than the mentioned products, the company also manufactures basic chemicals and hydrocarbons that account for 12 and 13 percent of the total sales. The company has a place in the history of the United States and the world because of the role it had during World War II in 1918; the company manufactured most of the medical supplies, explosives and teargas required by the US forces. Dow Chemical’s mission is ‘to passionately create innovation for their stakeholders at the intersection of chemistry, biology and physics’ (Samples 7-14). Currently, the company engages in political activities in terms of financial contributions towards friendly legislations and election processes. In fact, Aimee Duffy (1) notes that Dow Chemical ranks first amongst all public traded companies in terms of 2014 lobbying expenditure, surpassing giants like Northrop Grumman, Comcast, Google and United Technologies.

Statement of Issue

Dow Chemical has actively been involved in the social and political affairs of the United States in terms of financial contributions towards elections and lobbying efforts. On the same note, the debate whether corporations like Dow Chemical should be engaged in the support of the political candidates and lobbying still exist, with arguments either in support or against the same. This company believes that all political processes have immense effects on its operations as seen in the government policies, judicial and regulatory efforts and legislations. For this reason, Dow has undertaken to actively get involved in the political processes through various financial contributions, grassroots lobbying efforts and other legal advocacies (Smith 132). All the political and lobbying financial contributions are in strict adherence to the federal and state laws in terms of the limits imposed.

In order to have a clear picture, it is important to put down some of the contributions made by the company. According to opensecrets.org, election contributions made by Dow have been on the increase over the past years, reaching $1.1 million by 2014 from $68,000 in 1990. The increase is also in terms of the amount raised by the company towards electoral purposes. The same website the Dow has increased its contribution towards PAC in 2014. In terms of contributions, the 2014 data shows that the company contributed 26% of its allocation to democratic campaigns while 74% went to the Republican political campaigns. According to the federal data, Dow has spent a total of $11,420,969 in political campaigns between 1989 and 2014. A general look at how this money has been allocated shows that Republicans have benefited most by getting around 6.5 million dollars. Democrats have received 2.3 million dollars while other parties and organizations without official parties have received $2.6 million. On the same note, analysis in terms of federal verses state contribution shows that federal-related political processes have received $6.7 million while state-related processes have received $4.7 million.

The analysis above shows how committed is Dow Company in the various political processes within the country. According to the company, the involvement is important in order to contribute towards establishing laws and legislations that work towards achieving objectives and the stated mission for the company. Therefore, the company also endeavors to support those candidates who appear to champion those standpoints that are in line with its objectives. Nevertheless, the issue is the fact that there are schools of thought that such lobbying and political contributions should not allowed in the country. Dow disagrees with such an attempt because it leads to denial of the constitutional right, especially the freedom of speech and expression as stated in the First Amendment.

Statement of Taskforce Recommendation

According to taskforce, the longtime debate whether corporates should make limitless contribution towards lobbying political processes does not seem to favor the freedom of speech and expression as provided for in the constitution. No law should limit contributions made by different corporations; in other words, they should be free to contribute as much as they are willing and able. Many reasons are stated below in support of this recommendation. Note that contributions made towards political lobbying and electoral processes are given through proper entities like PAC that are controlled by the law, meaning that ethics and rule of law are always followed.

Background Information

Dow Chemical uses legal entities authorized by the law like PAC, in order to make relevant contributions for lobbying or politics. Political Action Committee (PAC) has the responsibility to make fundraising and spend the same towards political campaigns and lobbying efforts. The committee may use these to advertising campaigns for or against candidates, depending on the interest or values at hand. Different PACs have the responsibility of working closely with different corporations, political parties and labor groups in order to achieve their ends. Establishment of the PACs has been instrumental to the voters in terms education by availing all the facts and issues surrounding political campaigns and processes. Without proper advertisements, most voters would be at the dark on some of the issues that are important before making political decisions. Therefore, PACs play a big part in ensuring that all candidates present their views to the public, wowing them for election.

Before 2010, restrictions were in place on the amount that PACs would receive from individual entities and how much they could give out to different political processes. These restrictions depended whether the donation was meant for primary or national elections during a certain period. The caps made it very difficult for PACs to adequately support the candidates they chose. On this note, it is important to introduce Citizens United, a non-profit conservative organization registered in the United States whose main purpose is to provide a platform where corporations can write checks to their preferred political candidates in order to support their campaign efforts. Citizens United is another form of PAC that has a mission of working with candidates who champion their interests by supporting them through contributions from corporations. In 2010, Citizens United embarked on a judicial process to remove restrictions on election spending, a case that ended up the Supreme Court. The Citizens United won the case against the Federal Election Commission after the court pointed at the freedom of speech as the reason for removing the cap.

Since then, campaign finance has tremendously changed as seen in the data from the subsequent elections. More money is used in finding political activities, both in the primary and national election levels. According to opensecrets.org, the cost of running election in the United States has increased with the 2014 estimates showing that a presidential candidate requires more than $7 billion to launch a successful campaign. On the same note, a senatorial race requires about $4 billion in order to be successful (see figure 1 below). Money is an important issue into winning elections because it helps in efforts towards passing on the intended messages to the electorate; however, the electorates themselves make decisions. As much as the candidate with much money may win an election, it may not work in some instances, especially when the person with much resource has a negative past leadership history interms of corruption.

Figure 1: Estimated Cost of Election 2014

Source: opensecrets.org

2013-2014 financial activity data shows that Democratic and Republican candidates had already started fundraising efforts towards the coming house and senate elections. Data shows that Dow was actively involved in the 2014 political activities by increasing its contribution to the political parties. For instance, the company increased its contribution from $739,100 to $858,000 in 2012 and 2014 respectively for the Republican Party. On the same note, Dow increased its political contribution for the Democrats from $211,500 to $341,000 during the same period. In total, this chemical company contributed $1,256,070 for all political parties during the 2014 political cycle.

On the same note, opensecret.org shows that Dow Chemical has been actively involved in lobbying efforts in order to achieve certain goals, contributing $14,430,000 in 2014 against $10,650,000 in 2013. Lobbying has become an essential part in the operations of the US Government because it provides a platform where resolutions are made to avoid conflicts in future. Therefore, different organizations and interest groups can lobby when decisions to be made are likely to affect their future existence or operations. The major issues of interest in terms of lobbying include energy and nuclear power, environmental issues, agricultural policies, taxation and trade operations.

Reasons to Oppose Unlimited Corporate Contributions

As indicated above, certain entities argue that corporates should never be allowed to make unlimited contributions towards lobbying and financial campaigns. The first reason to support this standpoint is that much money is used for political activities rather than other issues. For example, opensecret.org notes of spending by a certain super PAC of more than $200 million per week in support of certain presidential candidate in the past. The website also notes that the House candidates collected $1,039,800,630, with $952,499,380 having been spent before the end of the same year. Another reason is that different corporate entities give according to their abilities, meaning that a certain candidate may receive more resources than other opponents, leading to inequality.

Big companies are known to control political agendas, leading to unfair competition among different candidates. Much contribution to a single candidate from a corporate entity gives the candidate ability to influence the opinion of the public hence the candidate’s election. This means that such corporate can easily take the power of the people by pumping resources to influence their decisions to elect a specific candidate. The third reason in support for the limited contribution by corporates comes from the fear that such resources can corrupt politicians. For instance, corporates do not give equal amounts to different parties or candidates, but does what seems better for the interest of the organization. For example, it is obvious in the above analysis that Dow Chemical prefers to support Republicans better than Democrats, reasons better known to the concerned parties. Therefore, it is feared that corporates may offer or withdraw their support depending on the cooperation offered by the candidate or party. On the same note, the fear of mismanagement also points to the opposition to the unlimited contributions because not all the collections may end up at the campaigns.

Arguments in Support of Unlimited Corporate Contributions

Much has been said of the reasons for capping the political contributions made by corporations. However, this paper recommends that corporations should be allowed to make unlimited contributions to the political and lobbying processes. In order to have the right perspective, it is proper to point out that the First Amendment of the US constitution guarantees freedom of speech to every citizen. This means that any laws that seek to prevent different entities from expressing themselves contradict the supreme law, the constitution. Note that expression comes up in different forms, especially when it comes to politics; resources play an important role in determining expression of certain viewpoints. In the present economic times, there can never an effective communication when money is not involved. For instance, technological advancements have brought the need to use television and other online platforms that can be accessed through devices in order to pass important messages, meaning that capping the amount to be spent on such operations is a serious offence that contradicts the First Amendment of freedom of speech. Other than these, the conventional way of campaigning requires that certain logistics like hiring halls, public address systems and publicity be done in order to achieve certain goals, things that may never happen when corporates do not come in to offer enough support to these processes.

Corporates also deserve freedom of speech as entrenched in the constitution. Corporate is made up of private individuals who should enjoy all rights and privileges assured by the constitution. In the ruling by the Supreme Court on Citizen United vs Federal Election Commission, the judges who voted to remove the funding cap noted that the First Amendment did not only protect the person who produced the speech but also the speech itself, irrespective of who spoke. This means that the constitution protect all kinds of speeches, whether they come from individuals, unions or even corporates. That statement drove the information home that any attempt to limit spending works to limit the freedom of speech. In essence, a corporate is seen as a collective of individuals who make up the ownership (Clemens 1982). Therefore, a contribution from a company is a statement towards a certain course. Some of the dissenting opinion note that limitless contribution from corporates may lead to corruption, something that the above ruling also disagrees with. According to the judges, the government is responsible for the prevention of corruption or activities that may appear as corruption; however, it is not its obligation to rule that contribution made by the corporate leads to corruption or appear as corruption.

Corporates do work with PACs to ensure that their contributions are channeled to the right persons or parties. PACs are recognized and regulated by the Federal Election Committee (FEC) and have to adhere to the rules and regulation of the same committee. All PACs are required to register with FEC within 10 days of their formations and later make the required contributions to the committee as required by law. This means that no PAC can exist without following the due process required by law, further leading to need for regulation of the funds from the corporates if PACs are already under the law. On the same note, the law requires that information about all donors and the amount donated to be made public, something that has been happening all along, further disputing the need to limit corporate contributions. Public sites such as opensecrets.org have these details for everyone with interest on the people or entities who make contributions, how much is contributed and the recipients.

PACs and corporates always have the interest of the people at heart, meaning that most of the efforts spearheaded by these entities drive towards ensuring that politicians get the correct feelings and demands of the public. Some of the ideas that PACs develop for the political campaigns come from and are directed towards solving public issues. Therefore, it would be wrong very for the PACs to use contributions for campaigns that seem to harm the public good. Another important point in support of the unlimited political contributions comes from the fact that corporates important voices of the people. These companies provide goods and services that seek to satisfy the public, meaning that anything that affects the public affects the company. Note that not many individuals or politicians have adequate funds that can support their campaigns towards their interests. Therefore, the presence of PACs provides an opportunity for likeminded entities to consolidate their finds in order to champion for their interests, without hindrances and limitations.

Response to Arguments in Support of Unlimited Contribution

It is proper that corporates be allowed to contribute without limitation; however, there should be a balance between the contribution and support of the political activities verses other important issues. For instance, there is no need to commit much money towards supporting a candidate who may be unpopular than committing the same funds towards achieving corporate responsibility (Post 54-55). Some of the interests mentioned by the proponents of the unlimited contribution can be achieved through direct interventions. On the same note, supporting a candidate may not guarantee victory and at the same time does not guarantee that certain interests will be satisfied once the candidate assumes an office. Rather, it would be appropriate to use some of these funds to solve problems directly. Otherwise, corporates do work towards positive influence of elections through contributions. There is need for balance, though.

Conclusions

Finally, corporates can only operate effectively in a suitable environment, something that can only be achieved through proper political and judicial processes. Corporates, like Dow Chemical, that make huge political contributions and lobbying do so in an attempt to create a political environment that suits its operations. For this reason, it has the right to support a candidate that it thinks represents its interests as much as possible. Corporates would only support a candidate after researching whether the candidate has the interest of the community at heart, in line with the operations services of the corporate. This means that corporate can champion for the right leader into an office. Therefore, corporates like Dow Chemical should be allowed to make unlimited contributions towards political elections and lobbying.

Works Cited

Duffy, Aimee. Why Dow Chemical Is Spending Millions to Influence America’s Politicians, The

Motley Fool, August 24, 2014

Clemens, Elisabeth S. The People’s Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest-

Group, Politics in the United States, 1890–1925, (1997)

Estimated Cost of Election 2014. Web. April 27, 2015

<https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/cost.php>

Post, Robert. Citizens Divided: Campaign Finance Reform and the Constitution, Cambridge,

MA: Belknap Press, 2014.

Samples, John. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform, University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Smith, Bradley.Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform, Princeton University

Press, 2001.