The Making of United States International Economic Policy: Principles, Problems, and Proposals for Reform

By Stephen D. Cohen | Go to book overview

6 The Private Sector: Interest Groups and Lobbying

Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people . . . to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

--First Amendment to the Constitution

The parasite economy is a disease that has benefitted only the lawyers, lobbyists and politicians who have flourished as the sickness spreads. . . . [I]t absorbs not only financial capital but human capital as well. . . . Like ticks on a hound, the lawyering and lobbying classes are sucking billions from the economy that might otherwise be used for productive investment.

-- Jonathan Rauch

The private sector is the third force, after the executive and legislative branches, determining the course of U.S. international economic policymaking. Through a variety of communications techniques, the private sector (a term that includes both domestic and foreign interests) is organized to transmit to the U.S. government a steady stream of partisan viewpoints. Interest group advocacy seeks enactment or retention of policies that promote someone's economic interests or philosophical values. Given the fact that much international economic policy is made for the purpose of affecting the ways in which the private economy interacts with the world economy, there is nothing inherently inappropriate about the private sector speaking up and making demands. Since there are at least two sides--and, therefore, at least two policy options--to almost every major international economic problem, articulations of different viewpoints, no matter how self-serving, are legitimate and often useful.

Input from the private sector is not only appropriate, it is also voluminous.

-113-

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