How Moore’s Law Is Impacting Lobbyists

 

Information – Getting Cheaper By The Day

The price of information is plummeting. It is like Moore’s law and then some.

This is hitting some parts of the economy more than others. Profits in the print media are being hurt. But, I don’t think things have really even started.

 

Lobbyists – What Is It They Sell

The tangibles of what lobbyists sell are hard to define. Some see it as information. Selling summaries of what is in the media, Parliamentary debates, and Commission proposals, and the mainstay of many companies.

Another View

Personally, I see things differently. For me, whether acting for NGOs or others, I view lobbying as:

1. Guide through the maze – the law making system is easier to follow if you know, and people think it is worthwhile delegating this shepherding to a lobbyist

2. Translator  – as a former academic, I always enjoyed the spectacle of people talking about their PhDs to people at parties. Usually, without fail, it was met with looks of utter confusion and eventually the listener running off.

Most people think their issue is something that others are interested in. The hard fact is most politicians and officials are not that interested. The key to grab their interests is to translate your case into something that interests or appeals to them.

Saving a company billions may not work, as a line for a social democrat, protecting workers in Europe will. To this day, most people still go in with a single pitch to all politicians. How they ever sell anything in the real world with this model amazes me.

3.  Changing outcomes – telling someone where something really is and what is likely to happen is one thing. The fun part is changing the outcome. Strangely, many people do not want to go this stage. Following a plan of action that stands a likely chance of success usually works. It works on most political campaigns.

But failing to campaign for your position is like leaving the “animal spirits” to decide your fate. It is brave, perhaps heroic, but unlikely to work that often.

 

What Is Now Readily Available?

Today, you have a lot of the information at your fingertips, that until recently you would have had to pay dear for, including:

Agenda of votes: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/agenda.do

Link to voting list reports: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/reports.do

Link to voting list motion for resolution: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/motions.do

Link to voting results: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/votingResults.do

C-Span

 You can even watch most of the debates in the committess and Parliament from the comfort of your own home thousands of miles away – powered by a good cable connection. And, if you want, you can record the debates and watch them again and again. It is not C-Span just yet but you can do most of what many firms did 5 years ago from the comfort of your own home thousands of miles away.

Now, how those results and positions came about is another thing!

Solving Climate Change Today – the 1 Step Programme

If you really want to solve climate change, you’d do something that would really addresses the challenges head on. How would you do that?

If you brought on stream the solution(s) you’d pay No tax (not a penny/cent ) on the income from the  invention for the next 10 years.

Set a target and let the market flourish

You would agree in advance some basic criteria: energy production at a certain suitably large volume with a certain amount of no or low emissions; a certain price;  300K cars a year on the road with no emissions lead to no tax on the income from the sales.

I don’t really care too much what the targets are.

Set a target and I know human brilliance will flourish. Energy production via photsthesis by Panasoninc, Hyrogen fuel cell cars by Honda, all will rapidly improve and come to market as the rush to reap the benefit of their minds brilliance at 0% tax for 10 years kicks in.

We Do It

We have used tax as an instrument for a long time. It works very well.

Prizes were used for a long time to encourage invention. It worked very well. As tax on all firms of income tax has grown there has been a strange but unmistakable decline in innovation. Taxation kills of the spirit of innovation very well.

No Doubt It Will Be Stopped

I have no doubt that this idea will take off. Governments tax revenues will collapse as cheap and clean energy comes on stream in large amounts all year round.

Academia and research centres will block it. There will be no need for billions of euros in subsidies for ideas that will never be needed. The market will step up instead.

I am sure there are whole variety of arguments from incumbents, bureaucrats, greens who’d have to find a new job and socialists (who think other peoples money is everyone elses).

They will block these idea and the amazing solutions that go with it.

One Simple Step

But, if you want to solve great challenges there is one very simple action that would bring about the solution , very quickly.

 

 

Times They Are A Changing – MEPS want the law to be enforced!

 

Reality Attack

Something remarkable has happened in Brussels. A remarkable outbreak of reality has descended on politicians in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament’s environment committee has realized that not all is well. The great strides that this committee has been responsible for any advancing environmental policy and regulation has not led to the intended environmental, social, and economic changes they thought the policies would deliver.

Keeping Quiet

They’ve known for quite a long while why that could be the case. But, they’ve been very reluctant to talk about it publicly. This little secret is that European environmental regulation is not applied that well by governments on the ground.

This is a long-term problem. When I had the privilege of working for an Anita Pollock MEP on air pollution legislation, her intention, if returned, was to work tirelessly to ensure the European air pollution legislation was enforced on the ground. Unfortunately, Anita was not re-elected. The groundbreaking air pollution legislation that she steered through the Parliament in 1999 was often poorly implemented in member states.

Forget the hard work of delivering progress

The reasons for this lack of enforcement, and subsequent lack of meeting ambitious but necessary targets, do not lie mainly at the door of industry, the familiar bogeyman of the environmental movement. The liability lies with government, the commission, and in particular, the NGOs who often did so much to lobby for the legislation itself.

Three Victims

There are three victims from this half asked approach to enforcement.

Rule of Law Sacrificed

First, is the rule of law. Clearly a dull and outdated notion to many today. It was, and is, the heart of Europe’s noble purpose.

As Europe learnt in its past, when we forget the rule of law society, the economy, and political order quickly flounder and descend into chaos.

The failure to address the non-implementation or the lack of implementation of European environmental law, or its enforcement on the ground, has been known for a long time. The UK’s House of Lords looked at the issue in 1992.

DG environment has known about it probably as long as its very existence. It is not a new issue; it just seriously has not been addressed for a long time by the European commission, European Parliament, or many member states.

Public Support Wanes

Second, public confidence and support for after necessary environmental regulation and improves quality of the air we breathe, water we drink, and the soil from which are crops are grown, wanes if nothing is done on the ground.

Indeed, firms who do the right thing, invest in new technology to meet new and often tough standards, are punished if their competitors are left to run scot-free by their failure to do little, or nothing, in reality.

I have personally been surprised at how common it is for companies to bring new products onto the market that are designed to meet new and tougher environmental standards and yet find that there is little or no demand for the product.

Companies producing monitoring and measuring equipment to ensure that the air and water is clean often find no demand from government enforcement agencies or companies. The response from the enforcement agencies and companies often there is open speech marks oh but we don’t really do that we know it’s necessary according to the law but that’s just on paper.

Ministers have known about this and their civil servants from long time. They are simply complicit in ignoring the rule of law and contributing to lower environmental standards by failing to address it.

I most blatantly came across this when I worked on and air pollution directive with Anita Pollack. I was surprised to find out that air pollution legislation had not been transposed to Northern Ireland.

Indeed, it seemed that most European environmental legislation had not been transposed into Northern Ireland. The reason was very simple, a British civil servant in the Northern Ireland Ministry failed, seemingly deliberately, to transpose EU measures into Northern Irish law. Bizarrely, this was an open secret in the British civil service and European Commission.

Only the personal intervention of then Labour environment Minister Michael Meacher led to the issue being addressed.

Environment and Public Health Declines

Finally, the environment and public health suffers. The expected gains do not materialize. Tougher legislation, perhaps tougher than it would be necessary if the legislation were enforced in the first place, often follows. The key is that the environment and public health do not improve and it could all sit easily be avoided.

 

MEPs Wake Up To Reality

The good thing is that the European Parliament has woken up to this fact. The round committee is taking the issue of no enforcement seriously. Matthias Groote, the chair of the EP’s Environment committee, is hosting a workshop on the issue. The Committee will examine the non-enforcement of waste and water legislation.

I hope to include a link to the hearing when it goes live.

Labour’s John Cruddas Channels the Pope?

 

I have just been sent a priceless gem. Labour has always had its fair share of Roman Catholic voters. A lot of that is down to the Irish vote and Labour’s support of a United Ireland.

But, it was nice to see that John Cruddas MP and the former Pope are together on many issues.

Follow the quiz:

 

 

 

QUIZ: 4 excerpts form the most recent speeches of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and Labour policy review coordinator Jon Cruddas MP – can you work out which is which?

 

 

 

1. … the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. 

 

 

 

2. One of the social rights and duties most under threat today is the right to work. 

 

 

 

3. This has subordinated a story of human agency to questions of administrative and price efficiency

 

 

 

4. We have to earn each other’s respect and that must be part of belonging.

 

 

 

5.  …the various cultures in our day overcome forms of anthropology and ethics based on technical and practical suppositions which are merely subjectivistic and pragmatic..

 

 

 

6. The predominant model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption, on the basis of an individualistic and selfish mindset

 

 

 

7. …these same concerns capture a very real process at work in terms of  economic and social rupture, of loss and grievance; of globalisation and epochal change

 

 

 

8. The stakes are high because when hope is not reasonable despair becomes real.

 

 

 

Answers

 

 

 

1= The Pope, 2= The Pope, 3= Jon Cruddas 4= Jon Cruddas, 5= The Pope, 6= The Pope, 7= Jon Cruddas, 8= Jon Cruddas