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Special Interests

Quote 1047

Downs’s most famous idea, however, is that of the rational ignorance of voters. He pointed out that it takes time and effort for voters to find out what policies each candidate supports. But the chance of any one person’s vote actually deciding an election is microscopic. It is simply not worth voters’ time and effort to become well informed. As a result, many people vote on the basis of party labels, or do not vote at all. Sadly, this means that since most voters are apathetic, well-informed interest groups can exert a disproportionate influence on the parties.

   --  Dr Eamonn Butler

Trade Unions

Trade unions are important as they donate to political parties.

Quote 1048

The disturbing result is that those groups, such as professional bodies and trade unions, that can somehow restrict any benefits they achieve to their own members, are over-represented in the public debate. But those, such as consumers and taxpayers, that are more numerous but harder to organise are under-represented

   --  Dr Eamonn Butler

Big business

Some big business and Government love to work together, business get special privileges in return for being agents of the Government. This is called corporatism. Essentially, corporatism is conspiricy against the public.


Quote 1059

Under majority voting, not only can the majority exploit the minority: it is even possible for small, organised minorities to get together and impose their will on the broad, unorganised majority. And this is particularly true in the election of representatives to a legislature.

   --  Dr Eamonn Butler


Banking -- Banks fail in orderly manner V's Banks being bailed out by tax payer.
Energy -- Subsidies for types of energy V's A competitive energy marketdriving down prices. (Investment decisions have been nationialised).

The government has the power to implement barriers to entry. Companies may well chose to lobby to add barriers, rather than looking how to runa effecient firm.
Customers can be treaty badly with little reprecusssions and it can lead to vostly services. With government and business working together, it can lead to massive bailouts at the publics expense.

Why do we have special interests?

  • Ability to organise: Its easy to get all the tomato growers together to ban imported tomatoes as there are a limited amount of them. Where millions of consumers are hard to organise to get more choice.
  • Whats at stake: Opera companies will want to organise, as the subisidies could be make or break, but tax payers individually pay only a small amount to subsidise them.

How do these special interests get through?

Knowing the public have little interest in these matters, the special interests try to dress their needs into public interest.
Tomato growers might argue that an import ban would save us from low-quality or diseased tomatoes from abroad, and would boost farm employment and prosperity at home; opera companies might argue that a thriving opera culture helps uplift us or makes our country a more attractive destination for tourists.

When the government votes, it puts a whole basket of these items in at once to all pass or all fail. Increasing the chance it will go through.

Table 017
Special interests

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