Friday, September 5, 2008

Lobbying as petitioning

Gina Liggett has written an outstanding piece - posted this morning at NoodleFood - identifying lobbying as a form of petition:
But petitioning the government either as an interest group, private citizen, or corporation, is a fundamental right explicitly enumerated in the petition clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law.... abridging...the right of the petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

And according to the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, lobbying is considered a form of petition (with no guarantee that the lobbyist will get what he wants) . . .
She identifies the crucial fact that corporate lobbying is the direct result of government intervention in the economy:
While some interest groups and companies improperly lobby for government handouts and preferences, and play the infamous "pork-barrel" game, this is not because the right of petition is wrong, but because the entanglement of government and the economy is wrong.
As the right to petition the government for redress of grievances is explicitly protected by the Constitution, the question becomes: who will decide which grievances private citizens may petition for the redress of? Is it not improper for the government itself to do so?

As petitioning the government is a form of speech, any limits on petitioning are limits on speech as well.

McCain and Obama are able to attack lobbying because they perceive it as being unpopular. They are able to do so with relative impunity because of a perceived sympathy by the public for government entanglement in the economy.

But is the mixed economy really that popular? Or does the American public go along with it simply because politicians offer nothing else? I believe that voter participation rates are telling in this regard.

When will the American public stand up to these politicians? When they learn to say NO to the mixed economy.

Which means saying NO to altruism and statism and YES to reason, egoism, freedom and laissez-faire Capitalism.

And learning to recognize that politicians who want to limit our freedom while also limiting our right to do anything about it are power-lusting hypocrites.

Teaching this to Americans will be primarily a moral crusade rather than a political one.

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