Criticisms of Interest Groups - Brian Johnson (editor), Nathalya Diosa, Terry Xia


An interest group is an organizations of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to achieve these goals. They link the political process to citizens (a linkage institution). The three main goals of interest groups are: influence public policy, influence congress/ government, and change laws. Although at times interest groups can be beneficial, there are criticisms about these interest groups.

An interest group can actually take away from our democracy, because they can manipulate, bribe, blackmail, and do unethical things in order to fulfill their interests. Interest groups can corrupt government and government officials. They do this through lobbying which is communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a government decision maker with the hope of influencing his decision. By doing this the interest group is pushing their own agenda
mccain-lobbyist-ties-lk0520.jpg
This political cartoon is an example of lobbyists trying to influence government officials.
rather than what might be good for the nation as a whole. Also, the donations that interest groups give to politicians may just “buy” the politician. This could lead to politicians only hearing the viewpoints of those interest groups that donate to their campaign. When interest groups pressure the government to do more things then more interest groups tend to form, which causes more competition.

Money is an extremely important thing to interest groups. Not all groups have equal amounts of money. The ones with the most tend to be more successful. With the money, they contribute to campaigns and pay lobbyists. The more money and resources they have, the “louder” their voice is. The amount of money they have is more important than the number of members in each interest group. For example, an interest group can have a large amount of members, but if an interest group has more money, no matter the size, it can still have more influence.

Another criticism of interest groups is that there is no way to tell how many members are actually in the interest group. There are so many people that support the ideas of the interest groups, but do not join. This is the free-rider problem which is when some people don’t join interest groups because they benefit from the group’s activities without officially joining. The larger the group the bigger the problem, because the larger groups are not as well organized as the smaller groups. Also, interest groups claim to speak for all of their members; however, it is impossible to be able to capture the interests of all the members of an interest group. A single-issue group focuses on a narrow interest, and dislike compromise. They manipulate and try to draw membership from people new to politics.
free rider problem.jpg
This is a political cartoon showing the free-rider problem.



Vocabulary:

Interest Group- An organization of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals.
Lobbying- communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a government decision maker with the hope of influencing his decision.
Free-rider problem- people don't join interest groups because they benefit from the group's activities without officially joining.
A single issue group- groups that focus on a narrow interest, dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics.


Section Review

1. What is one goal of an interest group?

2. What one issue of interest groups?

3. Lobbying:
a. Is focused on having many interest groups
b. Is a theory of balance between interest groups
c. When someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf hoping to influence government decisions
d. When groups are too strong

4.Free rider problem:
a. People get free rides to work, which annoys the drivers
b. When people don't join interest groups because they benefit from the group's activities without officially joining.
c. Richest minority holds majority of the power
d. Free rides to elections uses too much government money

5. Single issue group:
a. A group has one problem or issue, such as ugly people, lazy people, poor people, etc.
b. Kills government officials
c. Need more power
d. Groups that focus on a narrow interest, dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics.





Works Cited:

"5c. Interest Groups." Interest Groups [ushistory.org]. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

"Interest Groups." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

Renka, Russell D. "Interest Groups and Free Riders." Interest Groups and Free Riders. N.p., 3 Apr. 2010. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

Notes in class from packet.

Current News:

Lobbying group gets big donations-

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/nyregion/group-backing-cuomo-aided-by-firm-he-investigated.html?ref=lobbyingandlobbyists


This article clearly illustrates how large an impact monetary donations can have on a candidate for public office, and the corruption that interest groups and super PACs inspire. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, gets enormous campaign contributions from the Fisher Brothers firm. Due to this they were not heavily investigated, nor required to sign a code of conduct after a public pension scandal. They were one of the only companies to have this happen. They also were not penalized for their actions with public pension. Due to their campaign contributions and general support of Cuomo, they had undue influence over him (one of the main criticisms of interest groups) and were not investigated.

Interest groups targeting state races-

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-7000894.html

This article simply shows once again that those with money have influence, a belief that lies at the core of interest groups. They spend millions upon millions in both positive and negative commercials where they can say almost anything they wish. The one with more money gets more influence over the public, which then helps them win the election. This article shows that this process is not longer limited to the federal races, but now affects the intrastate races as well. It speaks to the evolution of American society with constantly increasing influence of interest groups and the power of money. More money means more lobbying, which means more laws being passed due to interest group influence.