Big government doesn’t just stultify the economy, it corrupts our culture in many ways. For instance, big government rewards whoever has the best lobbyist, and punishes companies that focus on innovation and serving consumer demand. This is one way big business benefits when government gets bigger. A related consequence, entrepreneurs are forced to waste time — and abandon dignity — and become lobbyists themselves.
Check out this interview with New Jersey Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, who has written a book telling small businessmen and women how to Be Your Own Lobbyist. I don’t think there’s anything insidious in what Handlin says. I think she’s insightful — and depressing. Some highlights:
The thing I’ve learned is that, while all businesses are powerfully affected by government, small businesses are particularly vulnerable. If you’re a large company, the size and diversity of your operations will dilute the impact of a county sales tax or a town building restriction. But for many small businesses, learning to lobby government is a survival skill.
I call this the “overhead smash.” It’s why Mattel favors toy regulations, Kellogg favors food regulation, Wal-Mart favors health-insurance mandates, and Philip Morris favors tobacco regulation.
Here’s some excerpts suggesting how much time needs to be wasted becoming a lobbying expert:
First, you have to know who is in a position to influence your business and in which ways. That’s a matter of research. In the same way you wouldn’t introduce a new product without researching the market, you shouldn’t try to get involved in the advocacy business without researching who does what in state and local government and in the agencies, authorities, boards, and commissions that make important decisions…. Research the interests and priorities of these officials and identify opportunities to mingle with them in a low-key, informal setting…. You need to craft a compelling message in tune with the mind set of your target….
Advocates of bigger government should ask themselves this: wouldn’t it be a better world if entrepreneurs didn’t have to think about this sort of thing?