Thoughts on Lobbying
A serious problem in American politics is the attack on elected officials by vested interests. In a representative democracy, representatives are not required to have any special knowledge or training. They are selected because they are believed to have the intellect and disposition to assimilate the information necessary to make sound decisions in the best interests of the people.
Since laws passed by a legislative body apply to the community, we anticipate that all interested parties will present their arguments for and against pending legislation. Our legislatures hold hearings to facilitate this presentation of information. Since the hearing rooms will not hold all the people with an interest in the matter, interested parties designate agents, called lobbyists, to present the information for them.
The theory is that our representatives will weigh the information presented by lobbyists objectively, enact laws that benefit the community and reject laws that are harmful. However, at present, it doesn't work like that. Although hearings are held, they are merely for show. The actual decisions are made by our lawmakers outside the hearing room, under the influence of lobbyists.
It is the free access lobbyists have to our lawmakers that defeats a very sound concept. The lobbyists wine and dine lawmakers, provide them with exotic vacations, hire members of their family, promise them future employment and, by more subterfuges than I can relate, influence the people elected to represent the public interest. These circumstances contribute to the political cesspool we currently endure.
If we are to eliminate this kind of corruption, we must deny lobbyists free access to our legislators. Our elected representatives are in service for the length of their term -- just like members of our armed forces -- and like members of our armed forces, they should be maintained at a government installation. The facilities at the installation can be as palatial as need be, with golf courses, marinas, and all forms of educational and entertainment facilities, but access to the facility should be restricted. Those wishing to affect pending legislation should present their arguments, publicly, in hearing rooms provided for the purpose -- and that should be the absolute limit of their personal contact with our elected representatives.
Do we have the stomach for such a solution?
We sequester juries in important cases. Should the conduct of our government be deemed less worthy of objectivity?