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Special Interest Groups, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 639

Research Paper

In commenting on the power of Special Interest Groups, Bell (2002), writes that lobbying by Special Interests often ensure that copyright and patent laws favors private interest over public concerns, but the challenge is with the politicians, who are not always corrupt, nor is democracy a failure, but these powerful men will often respond to incentives the same way normal persons in society will respond.

The fact that they do, according to Bell (2002), will result in democracies tending towards predictable bias outcomes.

Special Interests, according to Grossman and Helpman (2001), are any minority group of citizens that shares identifiable characteristics as well as the same concerns on some set of critical issues. Grossman and Helpman (2001) went further to remark that the number of Special Interest in the United States is far from small, and the figure has been growing on an annual basis.

Encyclopedia of Association reported that there were 5843 of these groups in 1959, but by 1980, the figure had climbed to 14,726 (Grossman and Helpman, 2001).

Special Interest groups are seen as very important to companies across the United States, in that according to a publication of the Washington Representatives, there are 11,000 companies, associations, and public interest groups engaged in activities in Washington in 1999 (Grossman and Helpman, 2001).

The Political Action Committees or PAC is very much a part of these Special Interest groupings. This organization according to Grossman and Helpman (2001), is registered with the US government under the reporting requirement of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, in order to legally contribute to political candidates of  its choice, had grown by 1999 to 3835 members.

In terms of diversity, Special Interests have become highly diversified, due to the variations in interests pursued as well as the fact that not all of these entities are organized around economic concerns. A list of prominent Special Interest Groups apart from the PAC, include Semi Conductor Industry Association, American Iron and Steel Institute, US Chamber of Commerce, American Postal Union, National Association of Manufacturers, National Bar Association, and the National Farms Union, to name a few. (Grossman and Helpman, 2001).

Special Interest groups may prepare group testimony for Congressional or agency hearings, meet legislators in their offices, have informal contacts with legislators at conventions and at other forums, initiate direct contacts with government officials, or report on technical or research findings to special hearings, according to Grossman and Helpman (2001).

Lobbying therefore plays a significant role in the effectiveness in which Special Interest groups influence the outcome of decisions which Congress will make, but the organizations that employs lobbyist are required to make bi-annual reports on lobbying activities exceeding $10,000, and the lobbyists themselves are required to meet the legal definition of the concept during the process.

Organizations using lobbyists to pursue Special Interests are therefore often exposed to public scrutiny, based on the reporting requirements and this may lead to actions against them, if their business practices are considered irresponsible in the eyes of the public. However they are often positioned to market their goods and services on a profitable basis not only locally but on global basis through the use of Special Interest, due to the benefits obtained from the work of these entities.

Special Interest is very much a part of the political, social and economic fabric of the United States, and will continue to be so, based on the number of companies involved, the diversified nature of the businesses that require representation, and the alarming rate of growth of these entities near the seat of power in the country.

Reference

Bell, Tom W. (2002). “Indelicate imbalancing in copyright and patent law”. In Adam Thierer & Wayne Crews (Eds.), Copy fights: The future of intellectual property in the information age (pp. 1−16). Washington, DC: Cato Institute.

Grossmann, G.H, Helpman, E. (2001). “Special Interest Politics” Harvard University Retrieved from http://www.wcfia.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/sip.pdf  on 07/29/12

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