Organized Political Lobbying does more harm than good.
Debate Rounds (3)
It is for reasons of political necessity and causative impacts that my partner and I negate the resolution:
Resolved: In the United States, Organized Political Lobbying does more harm than good.
Definitions are as follows:
In the US: Directed towards US Senators
OPL: The institution of petitioning of government on behalf of a group
Does: a habitual verb, meaning we look to past, present, and future impacts
Harm than good: Transforms the round into a cost-benefit analysis.
TIES GO TO NEG (significantly close ones)
Contention 1: Lobbyists are essential to the Political Process
Despite all the bad press lobbyists get, their fundamental role is vital to the US. Lobbyists add billions of dollars worth of information imperative to create informed public policy. We obviously cannot expect even the 500 best and brightest citizens of the nation to each have enough knowledge to make laws that affect millions…and I'm sure you'd agree we're not dealing with the best and brightest. So, this is where lobbyists come in. Lobbyists are hired by groups to support their side, so lobbyists are somewhat like lawyers. In essence, they provide information to Senators so that each can make a well-informed decision. Lobbyists are also bound by the Lobbyist Disclosure Act not to lie to Senators. Now, let's compare this to the alternatives:
1) No outside influence. This would create devastating gridlock, or just poor policy, because Senators themselves would have to research each of the bills they vote on.
2) Individual only influence. This would be much less reliable for information. One person pleading their case to Congress is subject to a variety of flaws, the greatest of which is that it's just unreliable. Having establish, organized political lobbies adds a level of accountability to the organization that makes it more trustworthy to help frame our domestic policies.
With that said, let's look to what specific problems organized political lobbies have alerted Congress to:
Contention 2: Nonprofits such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) lobby in the public interest to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
MADD is a special interests lobby. But unlike the distasteful connotation that "special interests" has unrightfully received, MADD is most certainly a public good. MADD presses legislators to make tougher laws relating to drinking and driving, such as increased enforcement of underage drinking laws, and breathalyzer ignition locks to prevent drunk driving. In a Quote from (Glynn Birch, President of MADD) Every action our volunteers and staff, along with… legislators, …take to fight drunk driving saves lives and prevents injuries," Birch adds that MADD has saved 300,000 lives, in addition to the billions of dollars that drunk driving accidents cause every year. No matter how you see it, MADD's political lobbying has done more good than harm. With a budget of only $50,000 a year, MADD has become one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and lawmakers cannot ignore this organization when creating policy.
Contention 3: The Tobacco Free Kids lobbying group has decreased the consumption of tobacco greatly, saving lives and economic burdens.
TFK is a special interest lobbying group, much like MADD. It is nonprofit, and it hires lobbyists with donations from people who support its cause. While it may not have the financial backing that some of the larger corporations have, it is still as effective. TFK recently lobbied the US Federal Government to help pass a 62 cent per pack increase in tobacco taxes, the funds from which shall be used to expand health insurance for underprivileged children. The cigarette tax will lead to 2 million fewer kids beginning to smoke, help 1 million adults quit, and ultimately save 900,000 lives. This is in addition to the 44.5 billion dollars that the US will save on medical costs related to tobacco. Further lobbying by TFK will attempt to further reduce the 400,000 people per year who die from tobacco related causes.
Contention 4: Lobbying protects small businesses, which drive the economy.
Despite what the opposition may claim about big businesses overpowering little ones, the fact of the matter is that the nature of organized political lobbying allows small businesses to thrive. The underlying principle of this is collectivization. In essence, small businesses with aligned interests lobby under the aegis of an overarching organization. In the United States, this is the National Federation of Independent Business, which works to collectively lobby for pro-small business legislation. NFIB has defeated 16 billion dollars worth of tax increases on small business in California alone, as well as workers comp premium increases (of 10%!) that would have been devastating to the Californian small businesses. Similar victories have been achieved by collective lobbying in all 50 states. In fact, Fortune magazine ranks the NFIB as the most powerful business advocacy group in America. Yes, the little guy can play with the big dogs and win.
In conclusion, because both the political necessity and tangible impacts of organized political lobbying indicate that the institution does more good than harm, we respectfully ask for a negative ballot.
Because I agree with this I affirm the stated resolution. Resolved: In the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.
To better understand let us clarify the following definition:
Lobbying-to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation
Contention 1: Political lobbying contributes to the breakdown of our political system. The denotation of a representative democracy is a type of democracy in which the citizens delegate authority to elected representatives, but lobbyists push their own interest without consideration for the majority's opinion. According to John Stuart Mill, the freedom of a few does not outweigh the freedom of the majority. In this case, special interests groups and lobbyists have a much greater influence than the general population, which is clearly inequitable and a blatant undermining of, in which the minority has more influence than the majority, the fundamental ideals of a representative democracy. According to Lee Hamilton "We depend on the idea that we, the people, can be heard in the halls of power, and that the interests of every side will be fairly weighed as legislation and regulations are crafted; yet if polls are to be believed, large numbers of Americans now believe they don't stand a chance against wealthy special interests." We have been given the right to speak out, but if we spoke out against special interest groups, it would ultimately be pointless. This could lead to negative outcome for the general public for the benefit of one special interest group and whoever they represent.
Contention 2: Lobbyist use unethical and immoral methods to fill their requirements. Lobbyist can fill their client's requirements by utilizing a variety of unethical methods, bribing or threatening the politician. According to Julie Norwell "Tactics also include using networking and contacts to make political threats or promises and to provide entertainment or favors." Lobbyist push political candidates, elected officials, and people in positions of authority to support matters that are beneficial to achieving their ends or the others they represent in doing so. Political lobbying is also similar to the old mafia phrase "Make them an offer they can't refuse." This phrase conveys a more concealed and malicious meaning inferring if the decision makers did not cooperate, then something bad would happen to them. In our society today, especially in our turbulent political system today, many forms of vengeance can occur such as smear campaigns, scandals, and in the worst form, assassination. Also, let us examine the word corruption. The definition of corruption is, according to Princeton wordnetweb, is: "inducement by improper means (as bribery) to violate duty" and the definition of bribery is: "the practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage. Let's compare these terms to lobbying. A lobbyist, as brought up earlier, is a person who conducts activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body. Now, we can surely question the ulterior motives of the lobbyist. Why would a person in his right mind go through so much trouble? The answer is because he is receiving proper compensation or receive some benefits. Since lobbyists have clear opportunities to meet with political officials and perhaps influence them, many affluent and powerful corporations fear that a politician's political agenda does will be detrimental to their well being, will pay the lobbyists to rally support for their company's cause and try to convince these politicians to uphold plans that will result in their immediate benefit. Thus, we can conclude that organized political lobbying is often used to gain an illicit advantage, and exploits a weakness of the American political system that has so far been failed to be addressed, in which bribery is indirect.
Contention 3: Since lobbyists advocate only one group's special interests, legislation that they help pass may negatively affect others. Actions of lobbyists could financially improve an industry but at the expense of another class of people. This could harm another group of people. Tom Hamburger states ""As a candidate for president, Barack Obama lambasted drug companies and the influence they wielded in Washington… Tauzin played in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices… There, he says, he eventually secured an agreement that the administration wouldn't try to overturn the very Medicare drug policy that Obama had criticized on the campaign trail." If pharmaceuticals companies increase their prices then health care be less affordable. In conclusion, since lobbying contributes to the breakdown of our democratic system and is a medium for corrupt behavior to exist in our political system, I ask you to affirm the stated resolution: that in the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.
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