Those evil corporate lobbyists

Many have objected to the ways that corporations have attempted to sway government decisions. Lobbyists are paid an unfathomable amount of money to impact public policies. It’s just wrong, isn’t it? Corporations shouldn’t be able to effectively override the will of the people.

For instance, consider the corporate lobbying that switched into overdrive in North Carolina recently…

Here’s the short version:

Well, ok, that last point didn’t actually happen.

But if people were to behave consistently it would have. Many people, especially people on the political left (it seems to me) are always complaining about the undue influence that business seems to have on government. That influence almost always involves shady dealings between lobbyists and politicians that take place behind closed doors.

But this deliberate attempt to influence government was not in any way hidden. In fact, it was explicitly made very public. So much for behind closed doors. And yet when several major businesses publicly declare that they are effectively applying economic sanctions to a state because the citizens of that state made a democratic decision that certain high-paid executives in those businesses do not personally approve of, where are the protests?

Where is the outrage?

So what’s it going to be? If corporations ought to keep their noses out of government then people ought to be loudly protesting this megalomaniacal overriding of a perfectly functional democratic process. The people have spoken, businesses need to respect that instead of trying to change the laws. Right?

And if, on the other hand, it is perfectly within the rights of businesses to influence government – as they clearly, and very publicly, have done in this case – then next time business lobbyists are meeting with government officials perhaps all the people who approved of this overt intrusion in the democratic process will recognize the rights of businesses to engage in such activity and keep their complaints to themselves.

So what’s it going to be? Are businesses allowed to influence government or not? Pick one and be consistent.

Personally, I believe business should interact with, and attempt to persuade, government. I believe those businesses are misguided on this particular issue, but the reality is that business executives are generally extremely well positioned to know what is best for the economy, what creates and sustains jobs. Business executives often bring wisdom and understanding that (with all due respect) elected officials often do not have.

There are bad examples of business lobbying the government out of self-interest, of course, but I still support the general principle that they should be allowed to do so, and government really ought to listen to them (for the most part).


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