I’ll post questions and answers of general interest here. If you have a question, please leave a comment, and I’ll try to post a human-readable answer (either as a comment or as a question in this list).
1. Why does our government continue to allow lobbying when there are so many problems with it?
Simply put, it’s specifically protected by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution (emphasis added):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But beyond that, I suggest you don’t take all the horrible things said about lobbying by the MSM (Main Stream Media) at face value (and read this article for an alternate point of view).
Yes, there are abuses, and there are scandals. We’ve had a few abuses and scandals with home mortgages and banks lately, but that doesn’t mean that the idea of home mortgages is bad or that we should close all the banks. Any system that involves money and/or power can be abused, and will be abused to the extent our laws and our lack of oversight allow it. Laws have been developed to help curb lobbying abuses, and most lobbyists (and most lawmakers) I’ve met are good people with good intentions who do good work (even when they’re limited by the system). In addition, most of the scandals involve lobbyists who broke the rules – but most lobbyists follow the rules. So just as in other industries, most of the bad press is the result of a few bad apples.
Lobbying also serves a very important purpose – to give most of us a voice in Washington DC that we wouldn’t have if our only option was to travel to DC and voice our concerns ourselves. Whether you realize it or not, many issues that are important to you, personally, are being lobbied for in Congress right now. All kinds of organizations with agendas from charity to civil rights to consumer protection lobby in Washington DC every single day. And if they didn’t, our laws would be very different, in ways we probably wouldn’t be very happy about.
So lobbyists give you a chance to have your voice heard. If you don’t feel like your voice is being heard, maybe you should consider hiring a lobbyist? And if you can’t afford to hire your own lobbyist, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck – find an organization with interests that match yours, and ask them if they use lobbyists; if they do (and don’t be surprised if they do), support them with what you can afford. Power to the people – the DC way.