The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
11 Points

In the United States Organized Political Lobbying does more harm than good.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/19/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,101 times Debate No: 12787
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In 2009 the lobbying industry cost 3.18 billion dollars on the Federal level alone. It is because the lobbying industry continues to use billions of dollars to sway politicians and subvert democratic institutions that we stand PRO.

Resolved: in the United States organized political lobbying does more harm than good.

Contention 1: lobbyist allows corporations to bypass the influence the gov't.
From Dan Morgan a writer for the Washington Post March 2005.
Business lobbyists are dusting off dozens of long stall legislative proposals in hopes of Cashing in a new pro business climate….
Pushing Congress last week, the quickly did away with workplace safety rules that had been 10 years in the making, and moved on to a bankruptcy reform bill. But even as they savored the triumphs , business representatives looked ahead to passing a broader agenda that would pare back environmental and land use regulations, limit cooperate liability for faulty products, and rewrite rules protecting the privacy of patients' medical records.
Lobbyists are paid by special interest groups who have no regard for the good of the country. Lobbyists pushed for the financial deregulation that caused the housing crisis, and food companies lobbied to get subsidies for their meat packing plants. Lobbyists allow wealthy corporations to sway governments in their favor, all while harming the rest of us.
Contention 2: too much money is wasted on the lobbying industry.
From the center for responsive politics:
In 1998 Federal lobbying groups recruited over 10,000 lobbyists spending over 1.4 billion dollars. In 2009 those numbers jumped to 13,000 lobbyists spending over 3.47 billion dollars.
Though these numbers stand true, there is far more lobbying done with unregistered lobbyists than registered. It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 lobbyists lobbying in Washington, only about 15,000 are actually registered lobbyists. Those registered have to file spending reports so the billions of dollars reported that only about 15% of the money that is really passed to Congress for legislative favors. All this money is being wasted, this money could be spent on improving a company's economic needs, such as improving the amount of production and improving the overall quality of their product.
Contention 3: Lobbyists undermine our democratic system by only giving a voice to those with money.
Senly for economic and political weekly from 2002 writes
Modern democracy has come to be dominated not by the voice power of the people, but the money power of the rich commanding both voice power and muscle power. The moneyed in society use the voice power of the media and lobbyists to influence those in gov't. The voices of such representatives rarely represent the true voice of the people.
In a democracy each person should have an equal say in government, but when rich corporations can just hire lobbyists to influence politicians then others are often marginalize for ignored. In his farewell address, George Washington warned us of the many problems we would face if we were not cautious and vigilant. One of the very things he mentioned was special interest groups. Guess who was right. Because Lobbyists distract representatives from their true responsibilities, Lobbyists take away political power from the average citizen, and undermine our democratic system, I urge a PRO vote.


Framework: By "does more harm than good" you presumably are not making a historical point. You mean that, in the past and future, we expect "more harm than good" to be done.


Democracy is like any other form of government. It empowers one political group over another. In a monarchy, the King is judge in his own case. In a democracy, the majority are judge in their own case. Nothing good can come of this arrangement. To this end, the negative embraces the criterion of abolishing democracy.

Contention 1) Why abolish democracy?

A) Conflict with Self ownership: Taken by many to be axiomatic. I use the standard of universalization to judge among competing theories of ownership. Thus, some men cannot own themselves and others (democracy). There are other ownership patterns, but self ownership is the only universally consistent position.

B) Moral Hazard: The majority gets to decide which rights citizens have. There is no check on majority power that the majority cannot overcome. Theoretically and in practice, this leads to predation and exploitation of minority classes who have no recourse. This has many detrimental economic and moral consequences.

C) Voting is a Collective Action Problem: Each individual's vote has a very low chance of deciding elections. As such, voters are rationally ignorant. Political positions are chosen not on the basis of any real merit, but for fashionable/self validating purposes.

This is what opens the door for special interests. Say for example there is a piece of legislation that would cost each voter $1, but benefit some special interest group $1,000,000. If a voter spends an hour of his time trying to fight the special interest, he is working for $1/hr. The special interest group will lobby much harder to get the legislation passed. Rinse, repeat, democratic failure.

Presumably the aff agrees with much of this scenario. But I go further to claim this is not the obvious result of "lobbying", but is an intrinsic problem of democracy.

Contention 2) Lobbying for a better future

A) Opening the door for social experimentation: Whatever social system is most economically efficient, it is not the one we see in modern democracies. Lobbying provides a means by which a minority might defend itself from majority predation. The establishment of secessionist/free territories would peacefully reduce the aggressive influence of democratic societies. Lobbying allows for the avoidance of violent political revolution.

A prime example is Patri Friedman's seasteading institute. The premise is to set up businesses in "seasteads", or floating ocean platforms, that will be more profitable on water than on land. They are very conscious and worried that governments might attack them. Lobbying could provide them with a way to pay "protection money" to governments, rather than engaging in violent conflict.

B) Dismantling the democratic state from the inside: The previously mentioned collective action problem of democracy can be overcome through mass transfer of liabilities. The financial futures of citizens in a democracy could be greatly improved if the state apparatus could be restrained from predation. A firm which accepted the responsibility for financial longevity of many clients could lobby on their behalf to stop the passing of aggressive democratic or corporate appropriation.


>>> Contention 1: lobbyist allows corporations to bypass the influence the gov't.
Obviously. It allows many organizations to bypass the influence of the government. Lobbying is made necessary by the failure of democracy to restrain majority predation.

>>> Contention 2: too much money is wasted on the lobbying industry.
I agree the money could be better spent elsewhere, but it the existence of the democratic apparatus makes lobbying necessary. Abolish the former and you don't need the latter.

>>>Contention 3: Lobbyists undermine our democratic system by only giving a voice to those with money.
Many lobbyists use their money for social ill. We probably can both agree that the Iraq war is just a way to funnel money to special interest groups.

You have to remember that the argument is over the activity of "lobbying", rather than how it has been used in specific circumstances. It can be used for both good and evil. My core argument is that lobbying is the only way we can escape the dysfuncions of democracy.
Debate Round No. 1


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Debate Round No. 2


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Debate Round No. 3


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Debate Round No. 4


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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by innomen 8 years ago
Too bad, i could go either way on this one. On the one hand politicians need to get their information from direct sources, and if balanced with an open mind and ethical behavior it could be a good resource, on the other hand....they're politicians.
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