a reply to: JesseVentura
First, thank you for responding to my post. I really didn’t think you would! Though my head is still ringing from the body-slam!!
I see you as someone who has a strong sense of integrity, as well as strong opinions. I want to thank you for the challenge your response presents,
as it has resulted in making me think more deeply on the subject.
In respect for your time, I'll do my best to bullet-point this…though I’m long-winded no matter how I edit…
1. Lobbying is inherent to power structures - as long as there have been organized groups of people, people will attempt to influence the powerful
among them to wield it to their benefit. Lobbying itself is what an elected representative does when they use their influence and connections in
Congress to benefit their constituents. From the School Board up to the Presidency, people will attempt to lobby those in power and influence
outcomes. "Lobbying" itself ain't going away no matter what happens to professional Lobbyists. Lobbying is a neutral tool - i.e. the tobacco
lobby can be countered by a lobby for Physicians against tobacco.
2. Point of Agreement: Paid or Professional Lobbyists are currently allowed to use methods of obtaining "audience" with powerful people, or to
influence them, via "perks" that do border dangerously on "bribery." They are allowed to do this by the government, which regulates their
activities through laws. Corruption is a massive temptation for both people in power and those attempting to influence them – it should be stamped
out without question.
3. If paid Lobbyists are eliminated altogether, then there is the risk that ONLY the "natural networks" of legislatures and regulators will be able
to put influence to power. "Natural networks" are defined as their own personal connections: family, friends, school mates, community, church,
Lion's Club, Rotary, etc. This isn't to say that people couldn't protest, or make phone calls, or organize, but they may not be heard if they are
a minority (i.e. families with special needs kids). It is human nature to choose people we know and are connected to over strangers. (This is one of
the reasons that Lobbyists exist in a professional capacity - to break into the "inner circle" we non-connected people are naturally excluded from,
the other is that big business/already connected people use them to grease the wheels to get what they want when they can, which is where the
'bribery issue' comes into play - this is the corruptive element that needs to be fixed.)
4. "Natural networks" are already in play, and will always be in play, and paid Lobbyists may very well be part of a Legislator or Regulator's
natural network. Yet, because they are professionals and hired to represent a business or organization, people who are NOT a part of the
legislator's or regulator's "natural network" CAN be heard. So, in this light, Lobbyists are a bridge for people who lack connections or even the
skills required to network, so that they too may be heard.
6. The real problems with Lobbyists are twofold, imo: The first is regulatory - what Lobbyists are allowed to do to gain influence that benefits
their client creates a system too easily corrupted. Lobbying itself, or trying to influence power, is just what humans do – how they are allowed to
do it, however, can be regulated. Laws regulating Lobbyists should ideally be based on what has integrity – corruption eliminated via law and
strict adherence with swift punishment for infractions.
The second is that it requires a lot of money to hire a good, well-connected Lobbyist, just like it requires a lot of money to hire a good lawyer or
excellent marketing company (Lobbyists are a lot like Sales Reps). This disenfranchises people who do not have that kind of money. It would be
interesting to think of solutions to this, like, for instance, Public Lobbyists, or enforced Pro Bono requirements for Lobbying firms. Or perhaps
another means of being heard, especially for minority interests. I’m sure others can think of better solutions than I can. And still others would be
horrified at the idea of creating something like this that might even the playing field.
In an ideal world, we would all have an equal voice with our legislators, but to think that could happen with or without Lobbyists would be naive.
(That is not directed at you - you don't strike me as being naive! lol!)
My two cents. (Or 6 cents, technically speaking…)
Thank you again for your previous response, as it did make me research this and think it through on a much deeper level. You may of course, still
think I'm wrong, but be that as it may, I've at least clarified it for myself. If you made it all the way through this post – then I also
seriously appreciate your time.