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Every Interest is Special

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The term, “Special Interests” is in the standard cant of politicians. We’re told there are “Special Interests” at the root of every problem we face. Wall Street, Big Oil, Agriculture, Big Education, Abortion Rights, Unions, Climate Change, the Drug Companies, ad infinitum, have hired string-pulling lobbyists to pervert and corrupt our virtuous society.

Walter Williams adds perspective:

According to a Washington Post article (6/22/05), there were nearly 35,000 highly paid registered lobbyists in Washington in 2004 who spent $2.1 billion lobbying the White House, Congress and various agencies on behalf of various interest groups. Political action committees, private donors and companies give billions of dollars to political campaigns. My question to you: Do you think that these people are spending billions of dollars to assist presidents and congressmen to better perform their sworn oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution? If you do, you're a fine candidate for a straitjacket. For the most part, the money is being spent to get politicians and government officials to use their coercive power to create a favor or special privilege for one American at the expense of some other American.

The way it works out, what the other guy wants is a “special interest”. What I want is a critical need. There are so many lobbyists working to adjust the rules in favor of infinite causes, that no interest is special. Or, everyone has a personal set of special interests competing against every other personal set of special interests.

Williams again:

But if you were to ask, say, the average senior citizen whether Social Security, Medicare and prescription drug subsidies should be continued, he would probably answer yes. The same would be true if you asked a college professor whether higher education should continue to be subsidized, or a farmer or a dairyman whether their products should be subsidized, or a manufacturer whether there should be tariffs and quotas on foreign products that compete with his product. The problem with congressmen producing favors and privileges to all interest groups is that it creates what none of us wants: massive control, numerous dictates and micromanagement of our lives.

The rhetoric is against “special interests”, either in general or against whichever shibboleth the audience wants to hear. Rarely does anyone decry the system which empowers those interests.

Without the force of government, people would be left to negotiate and compromise. Each person or group could find their own way. There would be no “special interests”. Only wants and needs competing for talent and resources.

The United States Constitution does not provide for special interests. Our government is limited to specific enumerated powers. Those who take the time to read all the way through the Bill of Rights will find:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.

The Founders knew every interest was special, and that none deserved coercive favor.