Transparent Lobbying

When I lived in the US, I was appalled at how commercial interests seem able to alter government policy at their will, corporations are now so powerful that senators have to bow down to them if they want the support of their workers to gain re-election. For a great insight into how it works, I highly recommend Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, which is disturbing in many ways but the lobbying of the food industry and how it has shaped US politics is scary.

Recently, the Digital Economy bill here in the UK seems to have shown how powerful it is in this country, with MP’s voting on issues that they plainly failed to understand, making statements in parliament that caused geeks like me to stare dumbfounded at our screens in sheer incredulity at the lack of knowledge they displayed with their pronouncements. Discovering that secret lobbying is perfectly legal here just continues the old ‘cash for questions’ legacy which suggests that if  you have enough money you can change/influence policy.

Well, with a general election just 4 weeks away, the action group 38 Degrees which helps engage people with making changes to issues that affect the UK, are encouraging people to write to their candidates and ask about their opinions on secret lobbying. I’ve been encourages and inspired by my friends to try and become a bit more politically involved so this is the letter I just sent off to mine. It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, reply I receive.

Dear Sir,

after the recent debacle of the Digital Economy Bill, where it became ever more apparent that the MP’s voting on the issue appeared to have little knowledge about the issues involved, as seen in their clear misunderstandings of digital terminology and ignorance of what’s actually involved in putting their proposals into practice, it seems to me as though there is considerable lobbying pressure from financially motivated businesses pushing for laws that are only in their own commercial interests and not in that of the public.

Looking into this recently, I’ve been appalled to find that, right now, it’s perfectly legal for companies/interest groups to secretly lobby the government and that there is no way for the public to stay informed about this. Given the size of some corporate interests, I find this very worrying and believe it to be completely undemocratic. It continues in the vein of ‘cash for questions’ and suggests that if you have enough money you can influence parliamentary decisions.

With the general election just a few weeks away I would be interested in your views on this and whether you would state whether you intend to oppose secret lobbying in the future.

Thank you for your time,

Justin Peer.

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4 Responses to Transparent Lobbying

  1. Greg says:

    Hi Justin,
    Came across your off-grid ECO trailer site today and then this site and realised that we had a hell of a lot in common.
    I also read about Jim Wallis’ Eco house that the council wants to pull down and agree totally with you. (I have his contact details). You are unfortunately living(after the USA)in one of the most bureaucratic/red taped/regulated countries in the world. What happened to the most basic human right of building your own shelter? Your efforts are commendable. Keep up the good work!
    Regards Greg (New Zealand)

    • justin says:

      Hi Greg, sorry for the delay in replying, work’s been crazy busy of late. Yes, we’re over regulated here, it’s been one of the more difficult aspects of working on the tiny house, figuring out where I would park it if/when I finished it. I’ve just interviewed for a new job that would see me working solidly through to the end of the autumn which would mean having to put the tiny house on a much longer hold, possibly for a couple of years, which is disappointing but I need the work.

      Last I heard Jim Wallis had been given the order to tear down his house, which was a terrible shame, I’m not sure if there’d been an further appeal on it. I’m working on some longer term plans that would see me buying a piece of land in the mountains somewhere that’s more amenable to building the small cottage I want to live in. I see you’re in NZ, I’ve been there twice now and utterly fell in love with the country, what a beautiful place to live. I’ve seen quite a few sustainable house projects out there, they seem to fit with the ideals and space of New Zealand.

      Cheers,

      Justin.

  2. Greg says:

    Hi Justin,

    Working to live eh? Pity we should have to spend quite so much of our lives working just to provide food, shelter, clothing and a few extra luxuries to our taste. Making a living from our passions should be our goal. Then we’ll never truly “work” another day in our lives.
    Pity the tiny house is on hold for a while, but maybe you are being led on a different path.

    Yes NZ, is very beautiful, – my goal is to secure a large piece of rural land that provides food and water. The shelter will come in the form of a mobile self contained unit.(trailer)It needs to provide it’s own power and take care of it’s own waste, therefore eliminating the usual beauracratic nonsense we contend with.
    That’s the dream anyway…

    Good luck with your endeavours.

    Cheers
    Greg

  3. marti says:

    Hey Justin: I ran across your blog that abruptly ended regarding building your house on wheels. It sounded like things had gone horribly bad in terms of the problems with weight bearing of the double axle and it looks that you’ve given up for a while, or maybe completely. Plus then I found this blog because I became interested in the fact you were doing this somewhere in the U.K and that you knew so much about American stuff and Burning Man and whatnot.

    I’m dabbling with the idea of also building something on this order. I may take a class in Gypsy Caravan design and meld it to something akin to Idaho’s Sheepherder Wagons influenced by the Basque Sheepherders who immigrated here.

    Anyways,hope you start bloggin again because I’d like to find out why you didn’t finish and if you plan to start again. You look to be a decent carpenter, by the way, even if you misjudged the axle sizing and capacity.

    Best wishes and don’t give up.

    Ms. Marti aka spudboater

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