business news in context, analysis with attitude

My favorite email of the week, from MNB reader Larree Renda:

You are my go to site first thing in the morning each weekday for my industry news. I am ALWAYS more informed, often amused and occasionally shocked. Since I’m a verbal person, if the fly on the wall was paying attention, the fly would hear an occasional “hmmmm”, “wow”, or “no kidding”.

But today after reading your article on the very addictive nature of Oreos, the fly would of heard me laughing out loud (LOL). Yes, even this “old-timer” knows what LOL means. When you wrote, "I have to think that there are a bunch of lab rats in Connecticut that have been having a pretty good few months. Sure, they're paying for it now as they go through withdrawal, begging for just a little taste of some creamy filling ... but for a while there, they were riding a pretty good high," I seriously started my day with a belly laugh. I hope the fly and everyone else in the executive suite weren’t listening in, it’s not flattering at all.

That’s what I love about you and your site. Your honesty, insights, candor and especially your sense of humor.  Thanks for being there for me each morning!

My pleasure.

It pleases me greatly when people read MNB and are informed and provoked. But it makes me happiest when I get people to laugh.

And a belly laugh? That's the best.

Yesterday, MNB took note of a New York Times report that Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed suit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), charging that the trade association "illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors," an effort that would be in violation of campaign finance laws. The campaign in question is GMA's quest to defeat a ballot initiative in Washington that would mandate the labeling of products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

I commented, in part:

I'll let it to the court system to decide whether GMA was technically in violation of the law with its contributions. That said, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the one thing GMA did not want in this case was transparency ... in the same way that pretty much all lobbying and special interest groups - not to mention the political figures and parties that accept their money - do not want transparency.

I'm sick and tired of the whole thing. And it is the kind of attitude and process that, to my mind, undermines the notion of democracy. And no, I don't think I am overstating or dramatizing the situation. I think the influence of so much money being thrown around within the political process in general is poisoning the system, but the influence of hidden money - spent in the shadows, without a spotlight being trained on who is spending the money and why, is positively toxic.

It is a crock.

MNB user Rick Rector responded:

Couldn't agree with you more. Thanks, Citizens United!

But MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

For the record, I think the entire GMO initiative is complex and needs thoughtful dialogue and a national solution.  But that is not the point of my letter.  Listing of all donors who give more than $25 to a cause does not sound like democracy to me.  As a citizen I should have the opportunity to keep personal stances and votes private.  This $25 rule is stifling free speech, in my opinion.

Let's be clear. I'm not talking about $25 donations. I'm talking about the millions of dollars that are used to corrupt the system by serving special and moneyed interests.

And I'll tell you something else. People, companies and organizations that engage in such activities, believing that they can remain in the shadows while exercising outsized influence over the system, are going to find themselves on the wrong side of history in a society that increasingly values transparency. It won't be their opinions that hurt them most, but their desire to remain out of the spotlight.
KC's View: