How Many Lobbyists Are There?
I've posted in the past about how the world would need as many telephone operators as there were people at some point, judging by the rate of growth of demand for operators back. The solution was simple if, at the time, not expectable due to sheer lack of precedent: everyone became an operator by dint of mechanical switches and dials on phones that made little clicking sounds that triggered the switches. Similarly, the world grew to need an outstanding number of computer programmers, and now just about everyone is a computer programmer (hey, what you do posting to a blog or using twitter triggers a lot more complex code sequences than anyone ever attempted when it was all done on the front panel -- never mind punch cards).
By (more or less) simultaneously offering up the Hugest Pots of Money Ever (in the TARP and similar, and in the stimulus package), and an array of massive programs in the new budget, the Obama administration has tried an entirely new tack with the lobbyist industry: overwhelm them. Individual lobbyist firms and workers must be overjoyed -- just think of how many companies will be battering down their doors trying to hire them to help get them their share of the pots of money! Think of how many companies will be battering down their doors trying to hire them to stop health care or cap-and-trade or shape them to be more to their liking or whatever.
In fact, if _I_ were a young 'un with a bachelor's degree in some sort of humanities or whatever and looking for a job in this market, I'd be doing my damnedest go get hired by a lobbying firm. Because I'm that kind of opportunist (altho I might be a little picky about which one I signed on with).
Usually lobbyists and the people who hire them can overwhelm bureaucratic efforts because bureaucratic efforts tend to come one or a few at a time. Thus, the industry can all be rallied to overwhelm any particular effort. In detail. But this time, the shoe is on the other foot. The administration has produced once-in-a-decade scale regulation/legislation/new programs by the dozen. The folk who want to bend the government's will to their own liking are really up against it. They'll be competing like mad against other corporations and industries. Usually, tobacco and chemical companies and agribusiness and the nuclear guys and defense contractors and everyone else share the cost of keeping Hill & Knowlton up and running. Now, they're all going to be bitching at some intern at Hill and Knowlton, trying to get through to someone with some clout. And most of them are going to be failing.
Sure, they can go to another firm. Sure they can take the newly hired exec. That doesn't solve their problem. There's only so much room on the elevators and the halls of power have strict limits set by the Fire Code.
Besides. If enough demand for lobbyists is generated that everyone becomes a lobbyist, collectively, the special interests will not seem particularly special anymore. In fact, they might get drowned. Out, I mean. If by some bizarre twist of fate, the Evil Corporations or whatever come up with the cash to pay everyone off to go along with their plan, effectively, it will amount to a huge cash inflow to us and a big cost to them. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to fight taxation that has the same effect as what would be involved in avoiding it.