Evil Lobbying: It’s All Connected, Man

From Matthew Yglesias:

But by the same token, firms that don’t rely on an unusually large quantity of dirty energy inputs would actually benefit from reasonable carbon pricing even when you leave the environmental benefits aside. And, of course, even evil CEOs have children and grandchildren who stand to benefit from not wrecking the climate.

But “business” has largely stood together as a bloc on this.

And in general that’s what you’ve seen for decades—a highly ideological business community standing together against taxes and against tough regulations. Of course firms are always going to lobby vigorously in their own interests, but it would be plausible to imagine a world in which when you have an issue like climate change that firms who aren’t directly affected by the issue focus their energy on trying to see that it’s addressed in a responsible and economically optimal way.

The Chamber probably lost Microsoft and the other companies before because they were going out of their way to mean about climate. Yes, actually mean. They could have thrown their weight against the bill and made a point to talk nice about why or at least sound like they live in the 21st century, but instead they made an effort to trash not just the bill, but the entire idea of climate change.

The more important issue is that it’s not just some cultural elite tendency for big business to stick together, but a functional strategy. It’s much more important that powerful people in government listen to and defer to business and generally perceive elite ‘capture’ of their corner of the universe as the standard set of affairs.

If Microsoft wants to be socially responsible and support rational climate policy, as they appear to, then that creates a conflict of interest with the many of the lobbying firms, Chamber, or other groups which might help them lobby on anti-trust issues. Microsoft is big enough that they can go their own way and still get their core things done. But it’s always going to easier for the Chamber to put on a smiley face when bashing climate legislation and Microsoft to keep it’s head down.

-Chris

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