Ethical Realism

Philosophical Lobbying

We Need Philosophical Lobbying — Philobbies

I suggest that we need some powerful philosophical lobbying. Philosophical lobbying is what I call “philobbying.” Lobbying is an attempt to “educate” and influence the decisions of politicians through donations (campaign contributions), advertising, political favors (such as activism), discussion, and so on.

Many people think that lobbying is corrupting politics. It’s like a form of legalized bribery. The wealthy and powerful corporations spend millions on lobbying because it works. They can ask for tax cuts, tax loopholes, and subsidies that helps them rake in even more profit. For every $1 spent lobbying the government, a corporation might hope to get $2 back. Lobbying can favor the wealthy because they have more money to invest in politics, and many people think that’s unfair—and many people think that the system favors the wealthybecause of this fact.1 The wealthy can pay off politicians and the poor can’t. The wealthy are getting tax cuts, tax loopholes, and subsidies more than the poor.2 (Consider that lobbying lead to the bank bailouts.3)

Some people have suggested that we need campaign finance reform to stop the “political corruption” caused by lobbying. Some campaign finance reform is a good thing. We need more transparency. We need less decisions made behind closed doors. However, the Supreme Court ruled that political advertising is freedom of speech and can’t be limited. In other words it’s impossible to stop money from having an unfair influence on politics without taking away people’s rights. It’s not just campaign contributions that influence politics—it’s advertising, activism, political favors, and so on. It’s impossible to stop all of this from happening in a democracy or republic. (Plato’s Republic not included.)

So, is everything hopeless? Should everyone give up? I think not. Lobbying might give the rich an unfair advantage, but there are more poor people than rich people. It’s one vote per person.4 Additionally, lobbying can serve good people. It could be possible to have a philosophical lobby that does some good. We need to do whatever we can to make the world and our country a better place and lobbying is part of that mission.

Some people have suggested that some good lobbying already exists.5 I have no problem with that. The main issue is that we need to create new philosophical and ethical political action committees and start committing ourselves to some lobbying. We need people to “rise up” and start taking their political responsibilities seriously.

Simply put: We should try to be reasonable and ethical, and use our wisdom in politics. Philosophy should be used to make the world a better place. Lobbying is one of the most effective ways to do that.

What exactly should a philobby fight for?

  1. Responsible government spending. For example, military spending has gone out of control.
  2. Accountability. We need to investigate corruption; we need know where our money is going; and we need to stop the influence of “bad lobbying”—such as lobbying from corporations trying to get bailouts, subsidies, and tax breaks.
  3. Improvements to public education. In particular, philosophy needs to be a requirement in high school. Every citizen has political responsibilities, so rationality and ethics isn’t really “optional.”

What do we do?

  1. Create political action committees.
  2. Advertise.
  3. Share your ideas and explain your interests. (Write for a news paper, write to your senator, etc).
  4. Donate large sums of money and meet with the politician in person to explain your interests.

James Gray, 2/11/2011


  1. Two Political Goals: Let’s Limit Military Spending & Demand Accountability.
  2. 7 Tips for Lobbying Politicians.
  3. How to Lobby the Government Effectively.
  4. How to Lobby Your Elected Representitives.
  5. Lobbying in the United States.


1 A Citigroup report concluded that “the rich are the dominant drivers of demand in many economies around the world (the US, UK, Canada and Australia). These economies have seen the rich take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years, to the extent that the rich now dominate income, wealth and spending in these countries. Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper and become a greater share of the economy in the plutonomy countries.” Go here to see the report.

2 Warren Buffet argues that he is paying a much smaller percent of his income taxes to the government than his secretary despite making $46 million last year.

3 Jon Stewart explains how the bank bailouts were loaned back to the US government with interest. More information about the lobbying that lead to the bank bailouts (TARP) can be found here.

4 The Citigroup’s report mentioned that “[o]ur whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks. For example, a policy error leading to asset deflation, would likely damage plutonomy. Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfrachisement remains as was — one person, one vote.”

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