February 15, 2006

Transportation study; lobbyist boils

There isn't much on Dryden specifically in this morning's Ithaca Journal, but there's an article on setting the scope for a joint Town of Ithaca-Cornell transportation study, which I believe the Town of Dryden will also be participating in.

Meanwhile, the Journal has a guest column from an Albany lobbyist who's very upset that the Journal criticized Albany lobbyists in a January 24th editorial. (I seem not to have noticed that editorial, but maybe it was because I was distracted by news that lobbyists outnumber legislators 18:1.)

Shanahan writes:

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about The Journal's dismissive contempt for those who exercise their First Amendment rights, is that The Journal seems to believe when some people exercise those rights it's "pure," but when others exercise them it isn't ("Lobbyist limits: Setting tight cap a good first step," Jan. 24). Our First Amendment rights are the same. They aren't better or worse, pure or tainted, depending on who's exercising them.

I'd like to join the Ithaca Journal in its "dismissive contempt for lobbyists," and point out that there is a huge difference between the free speech of people talking and writing and the expenditure of large sums of money in an effort to convince legislators to do what those with the cash would like them to do. The former is much more easily defended as pure - the latter is simply not defensible. The Supreme Court's unfortunate conflation of free speech with spending has led to an arms race for influence that those without cash have no opportunity to win.

As for the argument that lobbyists are necessary to present politicians with information they need, that's also simply bogus. The only reason lobbyists make money doing that is that the government can't be bothered to do it itself. Outside interests are more willing to spend that money than our government itself - and that's a sad statement about the state of government, not a kind statement about lobbyists.

Lobbyists may wince at the Jack Abramoff scandal in Washington and repeated calls for reform in Albany, and I hope they'll wince a lot more in the next few years.

Posted by simon at February 15, 2006 8:06 AM in , ,
Note on photos