Monday, 19 December 2011
La Notion du Lobbying
Lobbying (also lobby) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups (interest groups). Lobbyists may be among a legislator's constituents, meaning a voter or bloc of voters within his or her electoral district, or not; they may engage in lobbying as a business, or not. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest who hires them. Individuals and nonprofit organizations can also lobby as an act of volunteering or as a small part of their normal job (for instance, a CEO meeting with a representative about a project important to his/her company, or an activist meeting with his/her legislator in an unpaid capacity). Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying that has become influential.
The ethics and morality of lobbying are dual-edged. Lobbying is often spoken of with contempt, when the implication is that people with inordinate socioeconomic power are corrupting the law (twisting it away from fairness) in order to serve their own conflict of interest. But another side of lobbying is making sure that others' interests are duly defended against others' corruption, or even simply making sure that minority interests are fairly defended against mere tyranny of the majority. For example, a medical association, or a trade association of health insurance companies, may lobby a legislature in order to counteract the influence of tobacco companies, in which case the lobbying would be viewed by most people as justified (duly defending against others' corruption). The difficulty in drawing objective lines between which lobbyists are "good lobbyists" and which ones are "bad ones" is compounded by the cleverness with which lobbyists or their clients can speciously argue that their own lobbying is of the "good" kind. At heart, the effort to influence legislation is a power struggle. As in other forms of power struggle, such as war or law enforcement, motives range from predation to self-defense to fighting for justice, and the dividing line between predation and justice is subject to rationalization.