We all know, at least I believe we do, that lobbying is a group of people that are paid to seek favor and influence Government officials.  Certainly controversial but it goes under the headline of questionable behavior although “paid” is the opportune word here.  Lobbying goes back to the very early days of our country appearing in the Federalist Papers that was used to sway public opinions.

Why has there been a rise in lobbying over the past few decades?  The answer is pure and simple, money.  There is a reason that many congressional officials who move on to their next career after serving the public they become lobbyists, it is their large Rolodex, their relationships with the officials that they worked with while in office and they finally get to make some real cash.

Going back to the trail of cash, it is not only lobbyists inserting their powerful capital into the pockets of the people working the system, it is about the cost of winning an election.  It has always cost money to win an election from hiring a team, traveling across the state or country, and more.

In 1976, the average cost to run for a Congressional seat or a Senate seat was roughly $100k and for President is was $10m.  The cost in 2017 to win a Senate seat cost over $10M and that is just one Senate seat.  It is not easy to raise that type of capital from individuals, you need PAC money to get there.  If you look at inflation numbers, nothing really changed until 2000 when PAC’s were granted no limits.  That no limit has bled into the amount of money being spent on campaigns.

The full-page ad that ran in the NYTimes this past week showing the amount of money each candidate took from the NRA was powerful.  I’d like to know what each candidate took from every single PAC.  Not surprising, this all comes down to power and you can’t have the power without the cash to get there.  Companies such as gun makers, car manufacturers, hotel owners, gas companies…need I go on, have lobbyists, and create PACS in order to sway voters, period.  Just like Russia spent money on social media, that too swayed voters.  Lobbyists are paid to hold on to those golden handcuffs such as hotels trying to make sure AirBNB doesn’t operate, to keep coal up and running, to finance farmers so that Monsanto can continue to make products that are bad for our health.  Need I go on?

The NRA is to make sure that gun manufacturers make a lot of money.  We need to make changes or have more transparency around the people taking cash from these PACS because the only way we are going to change the way we are doing business and electing officials is for all of us to be civic minded and go out and vote.  It all comes down to one vote, one voice and when you start adding up all those votes to vote in people who don’t want to be swayed by PACS but actually represent their constituencies, then things might change but the issue is they still need that cash to get elected.  How do we change that?

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pointsandfigures

    George Stigler (http://review.chicagobooth…. is someone who you should get familiar with. He showed how greater govt intervention lead to more lobbying (not less) and it also lead to fewer competitors as the wealthy companies could afford regulation while small ones could not.We agree the cost to run for office has gone up significantly. A representatives job seems like it is to raise money. No amount of campaign finance reform has put a cap on the cost to run-and probably has made it worse.I will say as a person that once served on a PAC, it’s awfully hard to “buy” a Congressperson. Most of the time they are either pre-disposed to your argument or not. We donated 50/50 to each side of the aisle. We didn’t donate a lot of money-$500-$2000 depending on the person etc. The key was doors were always open to us so we could make our case when we needed to make it.In the case of the crypto industry, they ought to be setting up a self regulatory agency now, along with setting up a systematic way to get the conversation going with Congress on issues that are important to them.

  2. awaldstein

    Disclosure is the only way.Disclosure won’t really happen till a generational change happens.I want to believe that change is happening. I don’t really know honestly.My tolerance with those that rationalize insane behavior and those that support Trump as a means to any end they like is at zero.Can I be open minded and completely intolerant in this way–I think absolutely yes.

  3. Deborah Smith

    Good questions and no easy answers, but I do feel like we’re at an inflection point and I do have hope (thank you Ruby!!)*This inflection point is a result that of the fact that existing systems are being question, challenged, and digitally deconstructed by those who are awake and by those who no longer accept the status quo.*This inflection point is uncovering the way systems of greed have been constructed and challenges other systems that have evolved to protect & scaffold them.*This inflection point is awareness that not only does the Emperor have no clothes, but he/she/we/it is a card carrying member of the NRA and other organizations, institutions, and ideologies whose valuations are based on fear and ego.So, I guess the way we change this is that we go within, deep within, our collective consciousness and start questioning, challenging, dismantling, changing, and disrupting that which no longer serves our collective good — and certainly that which no longer serves our collective safety.

  4. Ella Dyer

    And I would like to know what BIG Pharma gives law makers in the form of financial support so they can keep voters sick. My husband and I have collected 42 names of “drugs” advertised every evening during the nightly news, etc., we plan to create a BIG Pharma Bingo board game!

  5. jason wright

    ‘Mobbyism and the Crowd’.No, you need not go on.Everyone is entitled to representation, and lobbying is in principle a perfectly reasonable (and understandable) activity. What you are describing is not reasonable. It probably isn’t really now even lobbying. It’s plain corruption. I would want to distinguish one from the other. What you describe requires a new name. I’ming call it Mobbyism.I’m optimistic though that new technologies and new networks will empower the Crowd to overcome the undue influence of these ‘special interest’ groups and their professional advisors. I have hope and expectation that change will come.