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For your liberty!
James Eyer
Candidate for U.S. Congress District 9
___________

Position Statement: Special Interest Politics

Situation

Despite government's mission -- to serve the interests of all the people -- our government has become much too heavily influenced by a relatively small number of special interest groups.

By design interest groups seek a) special treatment for their members or organization or b) special emphasis on specific policies.

Special treatment often takes one of these forms:

  1. specific behavior and activities are required or forbidden -- you pay with some of your freedom
  2. some (or even most) of your income is transferred directly to other people, organizations, and businesses in the form of grants, subsidies, tailored R&D programs, etc., etc.
  3. targeted tax breaks for "categories" of people, organizations and businesses -- you have to pay more
  4. legal loopholes or liability shields which reduce accountability -- society and/or taxpayers "absorb" the liability
  5. fees and prices for use of federal resources that are below "market value" -- taxpayers lose

It is very important to note that libertarians do not object to special interest politics; indeed our country is made up of many special interests. We all belong to several if not many special interest groups, even if we do not know it or think of it that way. And, let's be frank, special interest politics reflects basic human nature. Also, in many cases special interest politics may be a key way to protect freedom.

For the most part the objection involves several key effects of special interest politics, including:

  • the disproportionate influence that special interests have -- on government policy, taxation, spending, and restrictions on individuals' liberty -- relative to the influence wielded by "the people"
  • special interest politics violates the spirit of the "equal protection under the laws" concept in the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution
  • taxpayers who do not benefit from or that object to special treatment are forced to pay for it with money or freedom
  • often the "corporate welfare," subsidies, liability shields, etc. associated with special treatment skew the market toward less desirable options

It seems reasonable to assume that special interest politics has been responsible for a significant proportion of the astronomical growth of government's size and scope over the last 100 years. And there is a "snow balling" effect: more and more groups must resort to special interest politics to compete successfully for (or against) special treatment.

Conclusions and Solution

Of course there are no simple solutions.

Libertarians believe that any attempted solution should not include restrictions on peoples' or organizations' right to petition their government, or even to try to influence government policy or legislation.

The most important element of an overall approach to fixing this problem is to reduce the scope of government so fewer opportunities for special treatment by government exist.

Another key element of the solution is for voters to take back ownership of their government by becoming more involved and by holding their leaders accountable for special interest politics. As it is now, special interests swamp most efforts by "the people" to influence their government.

Wisdom from Others

Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
  - Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
  - Frederick Douglass

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
  - Plato

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
  - George Bernard Shaw

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.
  - Daniel Webster

In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
  - Voltaire (1764)



rev 7/9/04