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Debate: Lobbying

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Is lobbying a legitimate practice? What are the pros and cons?

Background and context

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Free speech: Is lobbying a natural extension of free speech?

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Pro

  • Lobbying is an expression of freedom of speech. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, for example, states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Lobbying is a natural expression of these rights, giving voice to the opinions and desires of organized groups such as businesses, advocacy groups, and unions.
  • Lobbying is routed in historic democratic principles. Tom Korologos. "In Defense of Lobbyists." Wall Street Journal. May 30, 2008: "The concept of entitling citizens to petition their government did not originate with the authors of the Constitution. It was the product of centuries of Western political thought. [...] The Athenians of the 6th century B.C. instituted the right of an aggrieved party to have a case pleaded before the state by a third party. The Magna Carta included the right of the country's nobility to petition the throne. Christopher Columbus lobbied Isabella for the appropriations (probably the first U.S.-related earmark) for the boats to undertake his historic voyage."
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Con

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Corporate lobbying: Is corporate lobbying defensible?

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Pro

  • Why should corporate lobbying be bad and other forms good. Tom Korologos. "In Defense of Lobbyists." Wall Street Journal. May 30, 2008: "why do the pundits, political operatives and segments of the media look with suspicion on advocacy? Isn't everyone entitled to have his or her voice heard? Why should lobbying by Boeing or the American Petroleum Institute be bad and lobbying by the Friends of the Earth or the National Education Association pristine? Or lobbying by the National Association of Manufacturers or Chamber of Commerce unsavory, but lobbying by the Laborers International Union and AFL-CIO virtuous?"


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Con

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Corruption: Is corruption not unique to lobbying?

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Pro

  • Corruption exists equally in lobbying as other professions. Tom Korologos. "In Defense of Lobbyists." Wall Street Journal. May 30, 2008: "'Jack Abramoff! Jack Abramoff!' is now the catch-phrase invoked by our friendly 'reformers.' No one will defend Abramoff's gross transgressions, but we need a new yardstick. Should we now start listing members of Congress who have abused their authority in the last decade alone? Or compile a similar list of judges, bankers, mortgage brokers, cops and rapacious corporate executives? The central point is that there are no more (nor fewer) lobbyists who have 'crossed the line' than from any other walk of life."


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Con

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Pro

  • Almost every single sector is represented by lobbyists. Tom Korologos. "In defense of lobbyists." Wall Street Journal. May 30, 2008: "There are now more than 35,000 registered lobbyists in Washington. We are represented from the cradle to the grave. There is a pediatric doctor lobby and a casket manufacturers' lobby. A to Z? Just look and you will find an asphalt lobby and a zipper lobby. Soup to nuts? Campbell's and Planters are here for the looking. I can't think of a single sector of the American economy that directly or indirectly doesn't have some sort of Washington representation. And that's good for the Republic."


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Con

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Pro/con sources:

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See also

External links and resources

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