Take Away the Incentive
Lee Drutman’s musing against the scourge of lobbyists is telling in the solution that he fails to consider:
The challenge then is two-fold. One is to figure out ways to make public service more of a career in itself and less of the stepping-stone it is increasingly becoming. This may mean such things as better salaries, better benefits and better hours. The other challenge is to find a way that more groups can get adequate representation in Washington, not just those who can afford to hire the megaphone of an über-connected Trent Lott type. This is much harder.
Perhaps it is time to think about regulating the prices that lobbyists can charge for their services (ideally to achieve some rough parity with government). Doing so would not only provide a more level playing field for different outside groups. It would also help to depress the salaries of lobbyists, and thus reduce the lure of lobbying to public servants. This is, of course, a radical solution. But perhaps drastic times call for drastic measures.
Thus would he further ensure that career politicians have incentive to grow government and otherwise encounter situations in which the career might benefit from that which the country does not, and that the lobbying advantage will go to those able to spend around the regulated lobbying prices (perhaps by electing their lobbyists, as it were). Why is the solution always to grow and solidify the magnet of corruption? To increase the prize? Drutman may have titled his book The People’s Business: Controlling Corporations and Restoring Democracy, but the masses will never benefit from increasing the exclusivity of government.
A better solution would be to shrink it. If the state’s fingers are not on every aspect of local, national, and international life — at least at a centralized level — then organizations have less need of high-priced lobbyists.