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View Full Version : Is there anything more undemocratic than a lobbyist?



MiKey4
10-18-2011, 05:36 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/17/millionaires-corporations-tax-breaks-sway-opinion

Great article, and pertinent to a lot of "small government" advocates in this forum


Since the late 19th century, the very rich have been paying people to demand less government. The work of Herbert Spencer, for example, was sponsored by Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller and Thomas Edison...

Freedom is what all these groups claim to stand for. But the freedom they promote is of a particular kind. They are not campaigning for freedom from hunger or poverty. They are not demanding free access to health and education. They are not lobbying for freedom from industrial injuries, exploitation, pollution or unscrupulous banking. When these libertarians say freedom, they mean freedom from the rules that prevent their sponsors behaving as they wish: mistreating their workers, threatening public health and using the planet as their dustbin.

frasersteen
10-18-2011, 05:51 AM
Have not read article, am just responding to the title

Lobbying is a key part of the democratic process.

How is a democratic representative supposed to know the will of the people unless he is lobbied (ie causes are brought to his attention) by them?

The problem with it generally is pretty much a weakness of capitalism is that the causes with the most money can shout the loudest and the causes with the least money are often those that need the most attention.

Not that I am anti-capitalist, quite the opposite but market forces are not perfect.

MiKey4
10-18-2011, 06:01 AM
Let me re-word it. Lobbying organisations are undemocratic.

Lobbying in terms of writing to your politician is fine.

But is it still democratic? Surely the politician will soon know if he's on the right page when the election results come in.

frasersteen
10-18-2011, 06:26 AM
There has to be some way of bringing issues to the attention of politicians. Lobbying itself is not undemocratic but the effects of it can be.

After all a large group of companies is as entitled to raise issues as anyone else however the resources and finance available to them means that they can have a disproportionately large effect on policy which is undemocratic.

This is why it is important to focus on the politicians when talking about lobbying not the lobbyists themselves. In a democratic society people and organisations are entitled to their own opinions and they are entitled to raise them and support them either financially or otherwise. Politicians on the other-hand are elected to represent the people, it is up to them to accept or reject the proposals of lobbyists and make judgement calls on what is in the interest of the electorate.

A lobbyist register and a register of meetings between civil servants and politicians and lobbyists need to be implemented so the electorate can make an informed judgement on whether their representatives are representing them or the lobbying groups.

NeverStopMoving
10-18-2011, 06:37 AM
Lobbying is a key part of the democratic process.

No, it is not. It is a blight upon American politics and needs to be called what it really is: bribery.

frasersteen
10-18-2011, 06:47 AM
No, it is not. It is a blight upon American politics and needs to be called what it really is: bribery.

Can you elaborate on that?

AlphaPimp
10-18-2011, 07:02 AM
absolutely, when lobbying turns into financial contributions, aka bribing.

oh and do people even realize that many in office/past presidents and vice presidents have been the former ceos of various companies. for example dick cheney was ceo of some oil company, then during the iraq war that same company made huge gains because of the war... think about it. its not in the interests of the people here o in iraq, just for the companies

frasersteen
10-18-2011, 07:19 AM
absolutely, when lobbying turns into financial contributions, aka bribing.

oh and do people even realize that many in office/past presidents and vice presidents have been the former ceos of various companies. for example dick cheney was ceo of some oil company, then during the iraq war that same company made huge gains because of the war... think about it. its not in the interests of the people here o in iraq, just for the companies

Oh I agree that is shady but you can contribute to a campaign and support a candidate, is that bribery too? You can say if you do x or don't introduce y I will vote for the other guy. Is that bribery too?

What is shady is the politicians accepting those bribes or doing something because of them especially if it is not in the best interests of the people.

My point is that the lobbies are exercising their democratic rights, the problem is when the politicians start acting for personal or professional gain. There are countless examples similar to the one you posted but in almost all the cases the problem is not that the politicians were lobbied it is that the politicians made decisions based on personal gain.

ZenBowman
10-18-2011, 08:00 AM
Freedom is what all these groups claim to stand for. But the freedom they promote is of a particular kind. They are not campaigning for freedom from hunger or poverty. They are not demanding free access to health and education. They are not lobbying for freedom from industrial injuries, exploitation, pollution or unscrupulous banking. When these libertarians say freedom, they mean freedom from the rules that prevent their sponsors behaving as they wish: mistreating their workers, threatening public health and using the planet as their dustbin.

Lets not forget the great Von Mises, who was almost entirely paid for by the Rockefeller foundation. He is the godfather of many of the talking points used by some of today's anarcho-capitalists.

MiKey4
10-18-2011, 08:41 AM
My point is that the lobbies are exercising their democratic rights, the problem is when the politicians start acting for personal or professional gain. There are countless examples similar to the one you posted but in almost all the cases the problem is not that the politicians were lobbied it is that the politicians made decisions based on personal gain.

Can you elaborate the limit of what you mean by "democratic right"? For me there is voting, then writing a letter to a minister, then there is a very clear line that should not be crossed, then there is an exchange of money.

If campaign donations affect ministerial decisions (which they surely do), how is that democratic? It is anti-democratic since the will of the donor is being pitted directly against the will of the voter.

frasersteen
10-18-2011, 09:01 AM
Can you elaborate the limit of what you mean by "democratic right"? For me there is voting, then writing a letter to a minister, then there is a very clear line that should not be crossed, then there is an exchange of money.

If campaign donations affect ministerial decisions (which they surely do), how is that democratic? It is anti-democratic since the will of the donor is being pitted directly against the will of the voter.

Campaign donations are a little difficult, they are not a required part of the democratic process and are open to abuse but that is how our systems work. Individuals are allowed to contribute as are organisations.

In the UK I think campaign donations are capped which seems pretty sensible. It seems to work quite well elections in the UK don't cost anything like what they cost in the US. It seems reasonable that you can support a candidate financially if you believe in their cause. A direct quid pro quo would be bribery in both the US and the UK (I believe) but it is very difficult to prove.

Again though the act of accepting a bribe is far more serious than the act of offering it.

Tekkendo
10-18-2011, 09:42 AM
.....
Again though the act of accepting a bribe is far more serious than the act of offering it.

but that is not what the OWS people are saying...:D They are not compaining about the politicians on the take. They are bitching about those offering the bribes.