15 Jun 2009

Corrupt Politicians and Their Paymasters

A farmer told me that "there are 61,000 environmental lobbyists in Washington DC." While I know that there are many lobbyists in many places, I had no idea of HOW many.

So I asked someone who knew, and this is what Marianne Lavelle at The Center for Public Integrity told me:
It is very hard to measure the pro and anti [environmental lobbyists], as you likely have found out, because folks are not required to disclose their positions--just the bills and subject matters on which they lobbied. We have been trying to measure and analyze the lobbying on just one environmental issue--climate change. What we found is that the number of lobbyists for all interests weighing in on climate change grew about 300 percent from 2003 to 2008 to about 2,350.

The lobbyists for health and environmental groups and alternative energy business -- all of whom you could presume were pushing for climate action -- were outnumbered by lobbyists for all other interest groups about 8 to 1.

Our original story says the number of environmental and health lobbyists on the bill totaled about 185. (We just published this update based on the first quarter of 2009 numbers.)

Hope this helps you a little bit at least! The 61,000 figure is way out there. No basis in fact that I can even imagine.
For a longer discussion of these issues, read Marianne's piece at Yale 360.

What effect have these lobbyists produced? How about a cap and trade bill that's over 900 pages long, full of exemptions and mandates, and (this is near criminal) giving away 85% of carbon permits to industry. I guess that's what you get when you spend $100 million on lobbying -- benefits worth $60+ billion (in the first year!). You can't beat that cost-benefit, eh? Spend $1 to make $600!

Lynne Kiesling also posts on the command and control in Wacky-Marx-Man. Here's my prediction: >50% of the “cost” of climate change will be due to regulatory burden and distortions from actions to "prevent" climate change.

Bottom Line: Now you see why I advocate a carbon tax. With the current situation, we are likely to get higher prices WITHOUT cleaning up the environment.