Thursday, December 16, 2010

No special interest

I find it amusing when, during campaigns, political candidates for a legislature talk about fighting unnamed "special interests" whenever they get to Washington or (insert the state capital of your choice). It's not simply that they're entrenched in the power structure.

The reality is that just about everyone that belongs to any organization is connected to at least one "special interest."

Are you part of a trade union? A professional organization? An industry group? A Christian ministry, whether liberal or conservative? If it maintains offices and lobby groups in a capital -- sorry to say -- it's a "special interest" that's protected by the Constitution. In that context, "special interests" are bad only if they aren't yours.

And isn't that the way things go? The "tea-party" movement made a lot of noise this fall in large part due to complaints over "government spending," but when pressed to specify what should be cut its adherents can't. And doing so would be hypocritical anyway, considering that they actually benefit from it. A high percentage of tea-partiers have college degrees, likely paid for at least in part out of government largess; others are on disability (which means more government aid). I seriously doubt if such folks will pay any of that money back.

But I digress -- if just a little. Do you ever go to an arts festival or construction site and see a sign with "Rep./Sen. So-and-so" as one of the sponsors? Well, guess what, folks -- that's your tax dollars at work. And it turns out that the lobbyists we say we hate are responsible for either your entertainment or someone else's ability to bring home a paycheck. Does it sound ridiculous that even the late liberal lion Ted Kennedy would support the building of military aircraft that even the Pentagon said it doesn't need? Not if doing so would provide jobs in Massachusetts.

So you can complain about "special interests" if you want to. But as the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for -- you just might get it."

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