(Previously published in the Seminole Chronicle)
By Grant Maloy
Co-Chair of Center Right Coalition of Orlando
When most candidates run for office they pledge to “stand up to special interest” and “return the government back to the people”. With so many politicians promising this you would think the problem would be solved overnight. Yet, when the next election cycle comes you hear the same old promises.
In Washington D.C. there are about 16,000 registered lobbyist and only 535 elected Representatives and Senators. In Seminole County you don’t really know how many lobbyists there are because there are no rules in Sanford that govern them. Although I proposed lobbyist registration rules when I served on the county commission, it went over like broccoli flavored Eggos with my fellow commissioners. Apparently, some of the commissioners that opposed the rules on lobbyist are now lobbyist themselves. That shouldn’t be surprising. About half of the congressmen that leave office in DC also become lobbyist.
The truth is that the special interests are not going away. In fact they are growing. Why? Simple; government is growing. The more government spends money the more lobbyist will be there with their hands out. When President Obama pushed for his $878 billion stimulus bill, news reports described that “industries scrambled to claim a share of the largess.”
But it doesn’t have to be spending. When more rules and regulations are created it means more lobbyists will be there to make sure that the rules being made leave them untouched, but injure their competition. One of the fastest growing lobbyist groups is the “green energy” industry. They are salivating at the thought that Cap and Trade will pass and a whole new plethora of regulations will empower their industry and hurt their competition. After all, it would be a lot easier for them to get the government to force everyone to drive a clown car and use a composting toilet than to sell those items in a free market.
It takes a person of enormous character and sound principles to truly “represent the people”. Right after someone is elected, the lobbyists sweep down upon them and are their new best friends. Officials now attend endless luncheons and dinners and are surrounded by “yes” men that tell them how wonderful they are. These lobbyist also carry big check books and use them to write generous campaign contributions. The average citizen that complains about special interest spends more money on soda than campaign contributions. The farther the politician works away from home also means the less they talk to regular people. This is called “inside the beltway” thinking. The special interest have even more influence.
The only way to truly “return government back to the people” is to shrink the size and scope of government. When less of your money is taken by government, fewer special interests will be fighting for a share of your money. If fewer rules are regulating your life and business, then there will be fewer lobbyists fighting over how to design those rules.
If you, however, advocate that government should do more, spend more and regulate more, then look in the waiting room of your elected officials’ office and enjoy all the lobbyist that are waiting to see their “best friend”. I’m sure your politician will promise to “give government back to the people” in the next election.