Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

Conservative

Lewis Anthony Dexter. Influence . . . information . . . intelligence.

According to the Washington representatives quoted at the beginning of the last chapter, they can provide their clients with "guidance . . . information . . . influence." The phrasing is neat. But it is an oversimplification.

For, in fact, it is only on rare occasions that Washington representatives can really "provide," or "offer," that is to say, sell or rent influence. The notion, however, that this can frequently be done is common; it confuses clients, employers, potential clients, journalists, and a good many observers of government.

The best way to show the irrelevance of the notion to most Washington representation is to start out with a discussion of some typical occasions when influence is actually supposed to have been sold or rented. This provides a contrast with the more characteristic and realistic ways in which Washington representatives can help clients exert influence: by discovering for the clients facts and techniques which permit the focusing and orienting of previously unexercised sources of influence.

Reflections about the discovery of such facts and techniques lead directly into consideration of the kinds of information which a Washington representative can usefully provide his client or employer. In summary, the Washington representative must select, process, and handle information so that it becomes "intelligence," in the sense in which that word is used in military planning. For, in one way or another, clients and employers are concerned with actions or contemplated actions; and information is only useful to them if it affects plans for action.


I

Influence can be most effectively sold or rented--from the client's standpoint, purchased--when the issue is that of awarding a specific favor. A contract is given to a corporation. A pardon is granted so-and-so. A tax decision benefits such-and-such a company. Broad issues of policy do not ordinarily arise on such matters. People who are, chiefly. concerned with them are not (in the sense in which the terms are used in this book) as such engaged in "Washington representation" or "government relations."

Nevertheless, of course, a good many Washington representatives spend part of their time on issues of policy and the rest on contracts, favors, special awards. Does it pay a client to try to hire somebody who has special influence, if part of the work in Washington is to get special favors?

Obviously, the answer to any such general question may vary with specific cases. But, ordinarily, it is of dubious value to the client.

First: There is rarely any way of telling whether influence or "pull" really did make the difference. The requirements of bureaucracy and the insistence upon honesty in government operate so that there is no clarity on the matter. Even if a decision is made on the basis of pull, the client cannot be sure at all that this is so--the decision- making official will not furnish any proof to that effect.

Second: We hear a good deal about ways in which special interests mislead public servants. There is also the reverse situation. Public servants may mislead--and do mislead--special interests in the following way.

They indicate to an organization that they will pay unusual attention to such-and-such a former employee or political supporter or relative. So, the organization hires the person. But, in fact, its claims are handled on their merits, just as they would have been anyway. With perhaps one additional handicap: some subordinates in the executive agencies, dealing with the organization are careful to lean over backward, because they foresee that if the political climate changes, some allegation of scandal may occur. So the organization, if anything, loses on the deal.

-173-

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Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One 15
  • 1 - Where Do I Stand? 17
  • Conservative 21
  • Conclusion 28
  • Socialist 44
  • Notes 46
  • Part Two 57
  • 2 - The Presidency 61
  • Conservative 67
  • Socialist 79
  • Notes 85
  • 3 - The Pentagon 101
  • Conservative 107
  • Socialist 117
  • 4 - The Secret Police 133
  • Conservative 139
  • Socialist 152
  • Notes 160
  • Part Three 167
  • 5 - Elite Clubs and Associations 169
  • Conservative 173
  • Notes 184
  • Notes 192
  • 6 - Multinational Corporations 209
  • Conservative 213
  • Socialist 221
  • Notes 244
  • 7 - Organized Crime 257
  • Conservative 259
  • Socialist 264
  • Part Four 283
  • 8 - Congress 285
  • Conservative 289
  • Socialist 296
  • Notes 303
  • 9 - The Courts 315
  • Conservative 319
  • Socialist 330
  • Notes 337
  • 10 - Regulatory Agencies 347
  • Conservative 349
  • Socialist 361
  • Notes 369
  • Political Parties 385
  • Conservative 387
  • Liberal 396
  • Conclusion 410
  • 12 - Academia 413
  • Conservative 416
  • References 427
  • Notes 434
  • Part Five 449
  • 13 - The Media 451
  • Conservative 453
  • Liberal 467
  • Notes 474
  • 14 - Banks 483
  • Conservative The Great Banking Retreat. 485
  • Socialist 489
  • Notes 497
  • 15 - Unions 511
  • Conservative 513
  • Notes 519
  • A Critical Issue 537
  • 16 - The Economic Crisis 539
  • Conservative 542
  • Socialist 544
  • Notes 550
  • Part Seven 557
  • 17 - Political Programs 567
  • Louis Banks. the Mission Of Our Business Society. 568
  • Ralph Nader and Donald Ross. Toward an Initiatory Democracy. 576
  • Stanley Aronowitz. On Organization: A Good Party Is Hard to Find. 581
  • Mass Parties and Reformism 587
  • Notes 596
  • Fred R. Harris. Up With Those Who'Re Down. 602
  • Part Eight 613
  • Appendix 621
  • Note 644
  • Index 649
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