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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain how special interest groups and lobbyists can influence campaigns and elections
  • Describe pork-barrel spending and logrolling

Many political issues are of intense interest to a relatively small group, as noted above. For example, many U.S. drivers do not much care where the tires for their car were made—they just want good quality as inexpensively as they can get it. In September 2009, President Obama and Congress enacted a tariff (taxes added on imported goods) on tires imported from China that would increase the import price of Chinese tires by 35 percent in its first year, 30 percent in its second year, and 25 percent in its third year. Interestingly, the U.S. companies that make tires did not favor this step, because most of them also import tires from China and other countries. (See Globalization and Protectionism for more on tariffs.) However, the United Steelworkers union, which had seen jobs in the tire industry fall by 5,000 over the previous five years, lobbied fiercely for the tariff to be enacted. With this tariff, the cost of all tires increased significantly. (See the closing Bring It Home feature at the end of this chapter for more information on the tire tariff.)

Special interest groups are groups that are small in number relative to the nation, but quite well organized and focused on a specific issue. A special interest group can pressure legislators to enact public policies that do not benefit society as a whole. Imagine an environmental rule to reduce air pollution that will cost 10 large companies $8 million each, for a total cost of $80 million. The social benefits from enacting this rule provide an average benefit of $10 for every person in the United States, for a total of about $3 trillion. Even though the benefits are far higher than the costs for society as a whole, the 10 companies are likely to lobby much more fiercely to avoid $8 million in costs than the average person is to argue for $10 worth of benefits.

As this example suggests, we can relate the problem of special interests in politics to an issue raised in Environmental Protection and Negative Externalities about economic policy with respect to negative externalities and pollution—the problem called regulatory capture    (which we defined in Monopoly and Antitrust Policy ). In legislative bodies and agencies that write laws and regulations about how much corporations will pay in taxes, or rules for safety in the workplace, or instructions on how to satisfy environmental regulations, you can be sure the specific industry affected has lobbyists who study every word and every comma. They talk with the legislators who are writing the legislation and suggest alternative wording. They contribute to the campaigns of legislators on the key committees—and may even offer those legislators high-paying jobs after they have left office. As a result, it often turns out that those who are being regulated can exercise considerable influence over the regulators.

Questions & Answers

why is economics important
Derrick Reply
What will you do as a consumer if you are not at equilibrium?
chukwu Reply
am new I will like to know about the graph relationship
Gloria Reply
comment on WTO principle on trading system. trade without discrimination
Omben Reply
optimize z=f(x,y)=6x²-9x-3xy-7y+5y²
Alex Reply
What is an indifference curve?
layla Reply
different levels of utilities of a person in a given set of bundles of goods
RAM
identify and quantify five social costs and social benefits of building a school
Mokgobo Reply
identify and quantity five social costs and social benefits of building a hospital
Mokgobo
short run vs long run
Jean
state the law of diminishing return?
Ibrahim
The Law of Diminishing (Marginal) Returns simply states that at some point in time a business/operation/etc.'s increased productivity will begin to decline.
The
For example, if a small pizza shop currently has 3 workers in the kitchen at any given time,and hiring 1 more worker will increase productivity, at some number of workers hired will the business see a decrease in productivity because the capital resources that the pizza shop has is not infinite.
The
Five social benefits of building a hospital, in my opinion and depending on where it's built, would be 1) Increased care for neighboring residents, 2) Potential jobs for individuals, 3) May decrease the travel time residents need to endure in order to reach the nearest hospital
The
4) May create work-study programs for individuals who aspire to be future Doctors, Nurses, Physicians, etc. 5) Assuming there are local pharmaceutical businesses nearby, the hospital may decide to purchase supplies local, increasing the business' sales. Thus, generating more income.
The
5 costs of building a hospital would be 1) Increased noise and waste pollution from service vehicles and hospital visitors, 2) May require large amounts of space, possibly jeopardizing nearby animal habitats, 3) May see an increase in traffic and possibly car accidents from frantic individuals
The
racing to see their injured friends, family members, etc. 4) Constructing a hospital and hiring staff is very expensive 5) To use funds, private or public, to finance the construction of a hospital cannot be used to fund any other projects. (The concept of opportunity costs.)
The
what is meant by inteference with the price mechanism operation?
Mugen
We use a Supply and Demand graph to illustrate at what price level will the market for a certain good or service be at equilibrium. If the price for a good or service is set too high, consumers will be less inclined to buy that product Thus, creating a surplus.
The
This surplus will eventually drive the price back down to it's equilibrium point. Similarly, if a price for a good or service is set too low, individuals would be more inclined to buy more of a certain product, creating a shortage. This shortage will cause sellers to drive the price back up to the
The
equilibrium point.
The
is it true that the opportunity cost of unemployed labour is zero?
Wisdom Reply
no
Oigebe
give two forms of collusion
nondumiso Reply
1.Explicit Collusion: Also termed overt collusion, this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry formally agree to control the market .
Gafar
2.Implicit Collusion: Also termed tacit collusion, this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry informally agree to control the market, often through nothing more than interdependent actions. A prime example of implicit collusion is price leadership .
Gafar
explicit collusion: this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry legally agree to control the market
Panashe
implicit collusion this occurs when two or more firms in the same industry illegally agree to control the market
Panashe
what is responsible for investigating cases of collusion
nondumiso
what mean economic as a science
Godwin
reasons why a country maybe involved in international trade
Nde Reply
state five similarities and differences between money market and capital market
Victoria Reply
Give a Zimbabwean example of firms operating in an oligopoly market and illustrate using diagrams how a manager in such a market maximize profit
Pam Reply
what is an industry
EWAH Reply
An industry is the production of goods and related services within an economy
Prabhu
an industry is place where goods and services are produced for human consumption....
Usman
scarcity is the major course of economics problems. discuss
Abdulhameed Reply
please say about that it is interesting for us
Abayneh
what is economics
Michael Reply
economics is a social sciences that deals with the production distribution and consumption of goods and services produced.its study of behaviour between economic agents
rkesh
what is the formula for elasticity of demand
Ridwan
change in demand/change in variable variable may be price, income,
rkesh

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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