Intersection of economics and politics: a look at ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil has been the target of much criticism for failing to comply with environmental standards, for neglecting to take responsibility for the numerous oil spills it has failed to prevent, for aggressively lobbying policy-makers to deregulate the oil and gas industry and relax environmental standards, for benefiting from corporate tax codes that privilege the rich, for manufacturing scientific skepticism about anthropogenic climate change and resisting global efforts to curb the emission of greenhouse gases, and so forth.
Explain one example in which ExxonMobil has exerted its economic power—as one of the largest corporations in the world—to influence politicians in Washington and shape public policies or foreign policies favorable to their particular corporate interests. The following are some questions that should guide your response: (a) what were the stated goals of ExxonMobil executives, (b) what policy alternatives would the company have been willing to accept, (c) what was the final result (what policy alternative was chosen), (d) how was the company able to influence policy-makers, and (e) what were or are the ramifications of the chosen policy to average Americans?
After briefly discussing these specifics, the bulk of your response should explain whether the ability of powerful corporations like ExxonMobil to influence the public policy process is a problem. If so, then why should we be concerned about, and how might we effectively prevent, this intersection between economics and politics? If not, then why isn’t this intersection a concern—how do the benefits of the influence of corporate special interests outweigh the costs?