"John Broder of The New York Times has an interesting piece on Al Gore’s financial profit tied to his global warming alarmism and push for renewable energy. Gore’s venture capital firm invested in Silver Spring Networks, a company that makes hardware and software to improve efficiency in the...
The Power of Special Interests
"Interest groups have not always been as American as apple pie. James Madison’s Federalist No. 10 focused on factions, 'a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.' Surely such a group should be suppressed. But no; Madison believed the costs of suppression in liberty would outweigh any benefits. He argued the size of the new nation and competition among groups would preclude the dangers of a majority faction. Madison believed majorities would vote down any malign proposals by minority factions.
The public and some scholars have disagreed with Madison on the latter point. Surveys indicate the public believes 'special interests' have too much influence in Washington. Economists have offered sophisticated analyses supporting a similar normative conclusion. Mancur Olson argued that the economics of organization foster policies that favor particularistic groups over the larger public. The Chicago School emphasized the likelihood that regulated industries would control their regulators. Gordon Tullock and later analysts in the Virginia School proposed that interest group efforts wasted resources by creating monopolies sanctioned by the state. Lobbying itself wasted resources in the struggle over rents. In general, the economists’ critique of interest groups suggested government failure might be more pervasive than market failure.
Political scientists have been more divided about interest groups than economists. Pluralists saw politics as a struggle among groups; the winner wrote laws legitimated by government. Pluralists tended to approve of groups as a way to represent citizens and control government. Others argued that lobbyists provided members of Congress with information vital to their re-election efforts. Some critics of pluralism pointed out that not all interests — especially the poor —were represented in the group struggle. The struggle among groups obscured the reality of elite rule. Others argued that pluralism had replaced the rule of law made by legislatures with groups competing for the favor of administrative agencies."
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