Friday, August 26, 2005

Why lobbyists?

Times cartoonist Bruce Plante, who is among the top of opinion-page illustrators, but (inconsistently) near the bottom of opinion-page thinkers and logicians, has a cartoon in the edition of Friday, 26 August, that asks "Why do we have lobbyists ...?"
It is well drawn but ill designed and presented.
A man is shown sitting at a table behind a name plate reading "TN LOBBYIST ASSOCIATION."
He is apparently being questioned by someone or other, and is pouring, projecting sweat.
Skip over the moronic use of the two-letter post office state abbreviation and look at the question in a speech balloon from the left-hand border. "Sir, the Citizens Advisory Group on Ethics is waiting for your answer ... Why do we have lobbyists in the first place?"
Tennessee is in the throes of a scandal: The Federal Bureau of Investigation staged an ABSCAM-like trap, setting up a fake corporation called e-Cycle and bribing (or at least allegedly bribing) several current and former members of the legislature.
In panicky reaction, both the legislature and the Hamilton County (Chattanooga) Commission have hastily drawn up "codes of ethics."
People who have ethics don't need codes to tell them what to do, or what not to do.
Alas, people in politics (especially those in the two old parties) seem not to have ethics, generally, and all such codes do is force them to use microscopes to find the proverbial loopholes.
Remember Algore's famous year 2000 disclaimer after he illegally used White House resources to solicit political funds?
Well, to get back to the above question and give it the correct answer: Lobbyists exist for one or both of two reasons.
Their employers either want the government in question to do something for them, or they want government not to do something to them.
In the first category is, for example, Cargill, or ADM. Or various city, county, and state governments.
In the second is, for example, the National Rifle Association.
Parenthetically, which is treated most shamefully, and dishonestly, by the "news" media?
The simple solution to the alleged problem of lobbyists is, Cut government back down to its proper size and function.

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