Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Joy of Not Lobbying

n1036967428_9502 As one of the Wellington Central candidates for Election '08, Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton (right) was invited to join the other candidates at a lunchtime meet-the-lobbyists meeting at the Wellington Chamber of Commerce today.  He decided to talk about the joy of not lobbying.  I'll let you draw the obvious connection between his speech, and the issue de jour about which the whole beltway is presently all a-twitter.  Can you spot it?

Good afternoon, everyone.

A while back I picked up a booklet, The Joy of Lobbying at the Government Bookshop. It has glowing quotes on the back from the Prime Minister, the Communications Officer of the CTU, and the sitting member for Wellington Central, Marian Hobbs, who sadly can't be here today because she's cleaning out her desk for one of us.

The book has a guide to how laws are made and covers topics such as campaigning, media, and sucking up to MPs. It even has little anecdotes: “Sir Randal [Elliott] said they made absolutely no headway in the seatbelt issue for years. Then a close relative of a Minister was killed in a car crash and there was action from then on.” This episode is charmingly described as a bit of luck.

The trouble with lobbyists, author of this booklet Deirdre Kent included, is that they tend to be interfering do-gooders. They usually want someone else's money for some grand scheme, something made compulsory or something banned.

The list is endless: Imported wood, big TVs, fast food advertising, foreign fruit, lightbulbs, party pills, smoking in public, smoking in private, substances I've never even heard of. Ban them all! Politicians have the power to deliver all of this and so lobbyists are born.

Lobbyists are drawn to political power like flies to garbage. And the only way to get rid of the flies is to clean up the garbage.

There are people here today who lobby – I hope you do it reluctantly. To the trader, the person of commerce, who deals with people by voluntarily exchanging value for value, lobbying should not come easily. It should be a reluctant act of self-defence. Lobbying is a sad fact in a world where politicians wield too much power.

As author Ayn Rand observed, when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know your culture is doomed.

When I said that the only way to get rid of the flies is to clean up the garbage, what I meant is that we need to limit the power of the government so that it's incapable of handing out these favours.

The proper role of government is to protect its citizens from aggression. Libertarianz would shrink the government back to its core duties: law and order and defence. Every other area of life would be depoliticised. We'd no longer fight over one-size-fits-all answers to every problem. People would be free to make their own arrangements as they see fit.

What this means for you is that you can spend more time running your businesses and less time running to the government. Rather than fight the people who are getting in your way, you can concentrate on helping your businesses realise their potential.

Wellington's – and New Zealand's – most important asset is people, their talent, and their creativity. If those talents and that creativity could be redirected to useful productive activity rather than being wasted on politics there's no limit to what we could achieve.

Vote Libertarianz and discover the joy of not lobbying.


  1. I directed attendees of a Libz conference (at which I spoke) to that book back in 2001.

    The thing is you still have to lobby them NOT to do stuff. So joining Libertarianz should not come with the "joy of not lobbying".

  2. Congrats, Bernard. Short, punchy sentences delivered with a humorous twist.

    Always nice to remind the others that you're the only one keeping your hands to yourself! :)

  3. Sadly there is still a need for defensive lobbying. The goal is that one day there won't be.


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