Democratic politics in the US don't end with elections.
They can express their opinions in newspapers, on television, and the internet, without fear of persecution.
Politics and governments use many points of access.
When an individual contacts an agency to solve a problem, there are many such encounters.
In the United States, a lot of political activity takes place through enduring, organized efforts that bring together many individuals into collective action to seek a common goal.
Pull and push drive organize political activity in the United States.
The government needs to collect information about the impact of decisions on various constituencies.
Information about how a decision will affect society or the best way to implement a law is needed by a responsive government.
Legislators, judges, and bureaucrats don't have the time to study all the potential problems.
They rely on information from individuals and organizations to gauge the importance of a given problem and to learn about the consequences of particular decisions.
There are many points of access for differing views in the American government.
People are willing to contact government.
Indi viduals and organizations express their concerns to gain some benefit.
A better understanding of government regulations is one of the benefits.
Firms often hire representation in Washington to stay on top of certain matters.
Many people involved in direct political action want more than just information, they want to change laws and policies to favor their interests.
They want favorable regulatory rulings that could be worth millions of dollars.
The American Automobile Association is an example.
It is the largest membership organization in the United States.
Tens of millions of people are members of this organization because it provides them with benefits.
The interests of drivers and others in the transportation industry who are concerned with the construction and maintenance of federal, state, and local roads and highways are represented by the advocacy group.
The largest lobbying organization in the United States is the American Association of Lobbyists.
Even if members did not join the organization for that reason, the organization still advocates on behalf of millions of people.
As you read this chapter, keep in mind that it is not the only example of an organized interest.
Individuals, firms, and other organizations engage in a wide variety of political activities, including contacting elected officials, attending government meetings, participating in campaign activities, and contributing money to shape how office holders make and implement laws.
Government can solve an important problem by learning about what problems are important to society and how government actions might affect society.
There is a clear orientation of interest groups towards segments of society with better education or more economic resources, and those most directly affected by government actions.
There are strong incentives for any single individual to free ride, which is difficult to organize.
Many interests in society, such as "all consumers" or "the middle class", lack effective organizations that can express their preferences.
Interest group politics in the United States involves thousands of groups competing for the attention of elected representatives and government officials and then, having gained that attention, competing with other groups and individuals to influence particular government decisions.
In Washington, D.C., there are 12,000 registered lobbyists.
It can be hard to get a particular concern before Congress or the bureaucracy, and one group's "special interest" may not seem so special in comparison with others.
Interest groups can achieve political outcomes through the institutions of American government.
Our system of government often means that one must win in many different areas in order to change public policy, as evidenced by the fact that groups strategically seek out institutional venues most hospitable to their interests.
Only the Senate committee can block a group from succeeding in a House committee.
In interest group politics, groups try to block each other's efforts in different parts of the government.
Legislation and rule making can be made slower and more complicated by interest group politics.
At work, this is pluralism.
It is messy and unpopular, but it is a feature of American government.
This idea is fully embraced by the U.S. Constitution.
The more competition there is, the less likely it is that any one will win and the more likely that representatives and government officials will learn what they need to know.
Lobbying and campaign contributions are regulated to prevent government from serving particular interests to the detriment of the common good.
One of the most difficult questions about the U.S. system of government is whether the separation of powers and free and open political competition provide enough safeguards against excessive influence by certain groups.
The Supreme Court and the city council debate these questions often.
The social basis of organizations, the problems inherent in collective action, and some solutions to these problems are analyzed in this chapter.
The interests promoted through our nation's political system are discussed.
In recent decades, interest groups have grown in number, resources, and activity.
We look at the strategies that groups use to influence politics and see if their influence has become excessive.
An organized group of people should be heard by the government.
Interest people are organized to influence governmental decisions.
Political action committees are sometimes compared to interest groups.
A political action committee focuses on helping certain candidates win elections.
Lobbying and executive actions are involved in interest group politics.
Political parties are not interest groups.
We have said that political parties can be seen as teams trying to gain control of the government.
They may take positions on a wide range of policies for the sake of winning elections, because they are concerned with who is in office.
The interests of the group and government policies affect their interests.
The Association of Building Contractors is concerned with government policies that affect the construction industry and the Dairy Industry is concerned with government policies that affect the dairy industry.
There are a lot of interest groups in the United States.
Organized groups enhance American democracy by representing the interests of millions of people and encouraging political participation.
They educate their members about relevant issues, lobby members of Congress and the executive branch, engage in litigation, and generally represent their members' interests in the political arena.
There are no reliable estimates of the number of groups in the US.
Every one of the 50 states has its own interest group.
Interest group activities at the local level, including cities and towns, counties, and special districts, could be as large as the state and federal levels.
Government programs are monitored by interest groups to make sure they don't affect members.
Organized interests promote democratic politics.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution were worried about the power of organized interests.
In the conflict of rivalfactions, the public good is ignored.
The framers were faced with a dilemma.
If the government had the power to regulate or forbid efforts by organized interests to interfere in the political process, it would have the power to suppress freedom.
It is less likely that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens if you take in a greater variety of parties and interests.
There are tens of thousands of groups in the United States.
The political deck is heavily stacked in favor of those that wield substantial economic, social, and institutional resources.
Political power is likely to prevail within the universe of interest group politics.
Interest group politics works more to the advantage of certain types of interests than to others.
A politics in which interest groups dominate is a politics with a distinctly upper-class bias.
Economic interest is one of the reasons individuals and groups engage in political action.
Interest groups are usually supported by groups of producers or manufacturers.
Small-business owners are represented by the National Federation of Independent Business and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Specific companies such as Disney, Shell, and Microsoft may be active on other issues at the same time that broadly representative groups such as these are active in Washington.
Labor organizations are more active lobbyists than they are in number.
Some groups lobby on their behalf of organized labor.
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is the most significant lobby that has arisen recently.
The American Bar Association and the American Medical Association have been successful in furthering their interests in state and federal legislatures.
The "gun lobby," made up of representatives of firearms manufacturers and dealers as well as gun owners, is represented by the National Rifle Association.
Legislative policy is influenced by financial institutions represented by the American Bankers Association and America's Community Bankers.
A powerful "public inter est" lobby purporting to represent interests not addressed by traditional lobbies has grown in recent decades.
The consumer protection and environmental policy areas are where these groups are most visible.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the NAACP, the Christian Coalition of America, and Common Cause are all examples.
The National League of Cities and a "research" lobby were created by the perceived need for representation on Capitol Hill.
Even though universities have reduced faculty positions and course offerings and increased tuition, they have expanded their lobbying efforts.
The Policy Principle section gives an example of how the real estate industry has successfully opposed any changes to the mortgage interest tax deduction, a policy that is in their own economic interests even though it is not in the interest of most homeowners.
Most interest groups share some key organizational components.
Most groups need to attract and keep members.
Groups usually appeal to members by providing direct economic or social benefits.
The American Association for Retired Persons, which promotes senior citizens' interests, also offers insurance benefits and commercial discounts.
Many groups with economic or political goals seek to attract members through social interaction and good fellowship.
Local chapters of national groups provide a congenial social environment while collecting dues that finance the national office's efforts.
Every group has to build a financial structure that is capable of funding its activities.
ancillary services include insurance and vacation tours.
Every group must have a structure for making decisions.
This structure is very easy for some.
It can involve hundreds of local chapters that are melded into a national apparatus.
The agency that carries out the group's tasks is included in most groups.
This could be a research organization, a public relations office, or a lobbying office.
Interest groups aren't randomly distributed in the population.
People with higher incomes, higher levels of education, and managerial or professional occupations are more likely to join interest groups.
Players in coalitions may not have equal access to information and resources needed to take effective political action.
There is a mortgage tax credit.
These interests have the resources to bring pressure through lobbying and are politically active.
Under current law, individuals who file itemized personal income tax returns may deduct the interest on as much as $750,000 in mortgage indebtedness.
The law can result in thousands of dollars in savings, even though the average deduction is only about $1,680 for homeowners who itemize.
A taxpayer with a large mortgage gets about 80% of the benefits.
The homeowners could deduct the interest.
Half of all families with a residential gage of $1 million or more have no tax benefit at all.
The amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted from the mortgage interest deduction has been capped at $10,000 and the maximum mortgage interest deduction has been reduced.
These were highly controversial changes but not much was done to keep the policy in place.
The real estate and lending industries oppose changing the policy of the deduction for state and local property taxes.
Proponents of the mortgage interest tax argue that it's a good idea to purchase second homes, to purchase more expen tion, such as the real estate industry, and to borrow against the value of their benefits the middle class.
Giving people a stake in the community lending industries, cutting the mortgage interest rate, and making them better neighbors would shrink the lucrative markets.
They reduced the size of the mortgage.
The benefits are not deductible to pay for other tax cuts, especially lowering the marginal tax of the wealthiest households.
The Republicans say it's a tax cut for the middle class.
For business and professional people, group membership can give them access to information that can help advance their careers.
Corporate entities and trade associations usually have enough resources to form or participate in groups that seek to advance their causes.
Interest group politics in the United States has an upper-class bias.
The majority of interest group members are middle and upper-middle class.
Conflicts between upper and lower classes are more likely to be reflected in conflicting positions than in opposing positions.
Middle- and upper-middle-class interests are reflected in groups associated with a progressive political agenda and support for the rights of the poor.
Consider the NAACP and NOW.
Both groups advocate for the rights of the poor, but both have middle-class memberships and focus on issues relevant to them.
Middle-class supporters of the NAACP are concerned with the issue of minority access to universities and the professions.
The matters of interest to NOW's mostly middle- and upper-middle-class membership are gender equality in education and access to positions in business and the professions.
To get adequate political representation, forces low on the socio economic ladder must be organized on the massive scale associated with political parties.
Large numbers of people with limited resources can be mobilize by parties.
Smaller numbers of the better-to-do are usually organized by interest groups.
The distribution of political power is affected by the relative importance of political parties and interest groups.
The "99 percent" is given a chance by strong political parties.
As long as government makes policies that add value or impose costs, and as long as there is freedom to organize, interest groups will abound.
The National Association of Manufacturers and other trade associations had a spurt in the last decade.
There are many groups that organize around agricultural commodities.
The beginning of the expansion of trade unions as interest groups was marked by this period.
In the 1930s, interest groups with headquarters and representation in Washington began to grow, concurrent with the expansion of the national government.
Over the past 50 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of interest groups that want to influence the political process.
The number of interest groups in the United States is not known.
There are tens of thousands of groups at the national, state, and local levels.
The proliferation of their activity can be seen in the growing number of political action committees.
One of the most common features of business political activity is that businesses are reactive.
Federal social programs have occasionally sparked political organization and action on the part of clientele groups seeking to influence the distribution of benefits and, in turn, the organization of groups opposed to them.
The creation and expansion of Social Security and Medicare is what led to the emergence of one of the nation's largest membership organizations.
There was a time when older Americans had guaranteed retirement income.
The emergence of new social and political movements was a factor in the recent explosion of interest group activity.
The civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s created a generation of upper-middle-class professionals and intellectuals who have seen themselves as a political force opposing the public policies and politicians associated with the nation's postwar regime.
There was a decade-long debate over the equal rights amendment, the nuclear disarmament movement, and the antiabortion movement.
Black Lives Matter and the antitax Tea Party movement are examples of recent social movements.
Civil disobedience was used by such groups to make changes in social behavior.
Common Cause, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, NOW, and the various organizations formed by consumer activist Ralph Nader are examples of members of the new politics movement.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, these groups influenced the media, Congress, and even the judiciary in securing enactment of policies they favored.
The enactment of environmental, consumer, and occupational health and safety legislation was supported by activist groups.
Technology is one of the factors that contributes to the rise and success of public interest groups.
The first innovation that allowed organizations to reach out to potential members was computerized direct-mail campaigns.
Public interest groups can reach hundreds of thousands of potential sympathizers and contributors with the help of e-mail, Facebook, and other electronic media.
Small groups can now mobilize nationwide.
30 years ago, social networking tools were not used as much as they are today, but individuals with perspectives in a small, anonymous minority can connect and mobilize for national political action.
Many people who share the same interest do not form interest groups.
College students share an interest in the cost and quality of education, but they have not organized to demand lower tuition, better facilities, or more effective faculty.
There are many in American society that are called a "latent group" by students.
Individuals' ability to achieve their goals without joining an organized effort is reflected by the failure of a group to organize.
Individuals are less likely to achieve their goals if the market allows them to do so.
Interest groups should be formed whenever a change in the political environment warrants it because individuals in the United States are free to join or form groups that reflect their common interests.
The groups should form in proportion to the people's interests.
There should be more organizations around interests shared by more people.
The evidence for this hypothesis is weak.
In the 1980s, political scientists Kay Schlozman and John Tierney compared the number of people in economic roles with the number of organizations in Washington.
In the 1980's, only a few organizations represented the unemployed in Washington, making up 0.1 percent of total organizations.
There are at least a dozen groups representing senior citizens, but not middle-aged.
The 2012 Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Census Bureau and the 2011 Washington Representatives Study were used to repeat their original study.
There is a problem with the idea of democracy because of the observation that groups form only around interests.
Political decisions may be influenced by the bias in who is organized and who is not, if there is a bias in the types of groups that form.
The best-known challenge to the theory is Mancur Olson's work.
The basis for interest group formation can be found in Olson's insights.
The number of organizations is only a rough measure of the extent to which various categories of citizens are represented in the interest group world of Washington.
The updated data was supplied by Brady.
Each member of the Possum Hollow Rod and Gun Club can pay annual dues and devote one weekend a year to cleaning up the rivers and forests of the club-owned game preserve.
This is an example of two-person cooperation.
In the simplest situation, each one of a large number of individuals has two options: "Contribute" or "Don'tContribute."
A group goal can be achieved if the number of contributors is large.
There is a twist.
The metaphor of the prisoner's dilemma is often used to describe social situations of collective action.
The prisoner's dilemma, a famous hypothetical problem from game theory, is used to discuss why people take actions that may not be optimal or in the best interests of all.
The fence-mending example is similar to Chapter 1's discussion of bargaining failure.
Two prisoners are accused of committing a crime together.
They are kept separate from each other.
The police want one prisoner to snitch on the other so that the prosecutor's case is easy to win.
Each prisoner is offered the same plea bargain, "testify against the other prisoner in exchange for your freedom."
If neither snitch nor snitches, each gets one year; if both snitch and snitches, each gets three years; and so on.
The outcome of the plea bargain depends on what the other person does.
Think about what you would do if you were Prisoner A.
The prisoners have a choice.
They are rational actors who will choose the best deal.
They prefer less jail time to more, and the police have structured the choice so that each prisoner will rat on the other.
Prisoner A is better off snitching if Prisoner B does the same.
If B chooses to snitch, A's choice to snitch gets A a three-year jail term, but a don't-snitch choice by A results in six years for A.
A is better off snitching.
The situation is symmetrical and B is better off snitching.
The prosecutor can convict both of the prisoners if they snitch.
They would have only gotten one year each if they had kept silent.
Snitching is best no matter what the other player does, and this leads to an outcome in which each player is worse off.
The prisoner's dilemma shows that rational individual behavior doesn't always lead to the best results.
A will still be drawn to the choice of snitching if A appreciates the dilemma and B also appreciates it.
The fear of being suckered and the temptation to get off scot free are the reasons for this.
The prisoner's dilemma sheds light on the fact that people often have difficulty achieving objectives that are in the collective good because the incentive to shirk, to defect, to free ride is just too strong.
In the swamp-clearing example described in Chapter 1, each person benefits from a drained swamp even if she doesn't provide the required effort.
Any individual can ride free as long as other people do the same.
This is a multiperson prisoner's dilemma because not providing effort, like snitching, is a dominant strategy; yet if everyone chooses not to contribute, an unwanted outcome results: a mosquito-infested swamp.
The bane of collective action is the prospect of free riding.
The political science establishment's assumption that individuals' common interests automatically transform into group organization and collective action was problematic according to an economist.
The prisoner's dilemma is faced by individuals wishing to engage in collective action.
It is difficult to achieve outcomes that are best for all if they are free to ride on the efforts of others.
Large groups and mass collective action, such as the antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960s, were most persuasive when talking about them.
Most people who sympathize with the causes did not participate in the large rallies because they followed a rational strategy of not contributing.
The logic of collective action makes it hard to contribute to the goals.
There are three reasons that this difficulty is most severe in large groups.
Such groups are usually anonymous.
It is difficult to forge a group identity or a group effort to lower taxes when each household in a city is a taxpaying unit.
In the anonymity of the large-group context, it is possible to claim that no single individual's contribution makes a difference.
There is a problem of enforcement.
Should a slacker receive the benefits of collective action, other members can't prevent them.
It's hard to know who has contributed and who hasn't contributed in a large anonymous group, and so less action is taken against slackers.
Many large groups that share common interests don't mobilize at all.
Smaller groups are able to overcome the problem of collective action more frequently than larger groups.
The members of small groups are more vulnerable to persuasion.
Individuals feel that their contributions are more important because of individual contributions.
Contributors in small groups know who slackers are.
It is easier to effect punishment that ranges from subtle judgmental pressure to social ostracism.
The small groups are privileged because of their advantage in overcoming the free-riding, coordination, and conflict-of-interest problems of collective action.
Small groups often prevail over larger groups due to these counterintuitive reasons.
These reasons help explain why we see producers win out over consumers, owners of capital win out over labor, and a party's elite win out over its mass members.
Interest groups offer many incentives to join.
Participation is more attractive for the individual because of the removal of the free-riding option.
Benefits that aren't informational, material, solidary, or purposive.
The table gives examples in everyone but each category.
Conferences and train enterprise provide information.
Material benefits include discount purchasing, shared advertising, and health and retirement insurance.
One of the largest groups in the United States, the AARP, offers insurance packages to its members.
The friendship and networking opportunities that membership provides are notable.
The consciousness-raising benefit is important to nonprofits and citizens' groups.