I found myself in the unusual position of agreeing with the Greens’s Russel Norman this morning, in his call to limit the access to Parliament Buildings of professional lobbyists, and to provide a Register of Lobbyists so we can all see who’s stroking whom.
There’s only one thing he said on Radio NZ this morning with which I disagree. “There's nothing wrong with lobbyists," he said. Well, yes there is.
Looked at dispassionately, lobbyists are people who take advantage of a system that dispenses power, favours and loot to sell their friendships with those who dispense the largesse. They are what Ayn Rand called “pull peddlers.” They are the inevitable cockroaches who take advantage of the looters' system to become rich by selling "pull," or influence.
Without the power of government to take away your property, or to command your obedience, the pull peddlers influence would disappear – and so would they.
What Russel proposes is good enough as far as it goes, but it hardly goes very far at all. If Russel really wants to control the power of lobbyists to pull down political favours, then he needs to get his head around limiting the power of government to grant them. He needs to understand the corruption of the mixed economy. If we want to get rid of the influence of lobbyists and their minions, then as Yaron Brook says of American government, “we have to return our government to its sole legitimate purpose: the protection of individual rights.”
But on that, I suspect, Russel and I will never agree.