congressFor years our election cycles have been stuck in the mire of corporate influence. Both Senate and House members spend a considerable amount of time each week raising campaign funds. Thus, congress is hooked on your data. Your representatives spend considerable time each week cold calling for donations to their campaigns. That is not what we elect them for, and the databases do not belong to the parties. The data is provided by a company named Acxiom. The company shrouds itself in secrecy. It possesses relationships with practically all carriers of communication, website entities and the credit and banking industries.
It may surprise you that Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter all share a single connection. Countless social media sites, marketing, and companies that spy on your activities have agreements with the same company. You can see for yourself, Google it.
In the twentieth century, J Edgar Hoover headed the FBI. His reign lasted through 8 U.S. Presidents, from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon. He kept personal files on the general public but concentrated on politicians. There has not been anyone who has held appointed political office for so long. His legacy proved that secret information is power. His power existed in government service, and his influence has lasted for decades. In some ways, it is still present today.
In 1969 two brothers started a mailing database for the Democratic Party. The company name was Demographics Inc. It became synonymous with the very definition of data about the population. In the dictionary it is given the following definition. “noun – statistical data, relating to the population and particular groups within it.” Today many do not realize that same company still exists. A few name changes later it is known presently as the Acxiom Corporation.
During the last election, a scandal erupted between the Campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Staffers from Sanders camp were able to view changes within the dataset made by the Clinton staffers. What was left out of all the news stories was the name of the data provider. There really is only one database the Democrats use.
Its influence not only shapes the opinion of our legislators. The CEO Acxiom Scott Howe proudly stated in an interview on the Street 2012. “That there is not a piece of privacy legislation written that Acxiom hasn’t had a voice in… So we want to not only, want to stay ahead of legislation but have a hand in crafting effective legislation.” Its products and services compete directly with credit and security firms. It competes with other marketing firms having the largest privately held database, of personal information in the world. The dependency of our legislators to remain in Congress for years comes with a price, from every citizen.
The powerful lobbyists, pharmaceutical and defense industries all use information pulled from the same source. Direct personal information along with judgments made from by inference from the statistically induced large data sets (big data) are taken primarily without permission or consent. Often extortion is used as a means from loyalty card programs operated at a wide variety of small and large retailers. One company has ultimate control of how our legislators raise campaign funds and create legislation. It influences our economic decisions and markets your information openly. It is no wonder why we are threatened by Identity theft there are over 800 companies selling personal information about the population on the internet. Some of these get the information again from the very same sources.
It is not a secret that money influences politics. Raw information, however, is powerful too, all from a company that cloaks what it has, what it collects and how it uses the very information it collects about you. Our shared societal problem of corporate influence over government actually has a single commonality.
Our politicians are raising and spending millions of dollars in each federal race. Part of this is provided by each party. Thus, the election cycle never really ends. Those that have tenure within the parties are awarded committee status. The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee along with the Senate Finance committee is considered the most prestigious. On average committee members have been re-elected for decades to gain membership. Year after year, currying favor and making deals for the supposed benefit of the represented.
We need to change the way that leadership is created within Washington. Term limits are only part of the answer, to a power structure that commands a budget greater than half of the developed nations combined. It isn’t going to be easy but we the American people deserve to be the change agents we have been told that we are.