Friday, January 13, 2006

Start Selling the Lobby

Mike sent me this link yesterday about the relator's association as they attempt to create barriers to entry in their area of expertise. Thankfully, they are having trouble.

The Justice Department sued the association last year, asserting that the group's rules for online property listings discriminate against Internet-based brokers. Battles have also raged in the states as realtor organizations pursued policies that opponents say would hurt discount brokers. The Consumer Federation of America is revving up to fight any such industry-sponsored legislation state by state in coming months.

This is all great stuff. Belated, but great. My only problem is that people don't seem to be getting an good overarching message from the trend. The biggest message people seem to be getting is "The industry could be more competitive" or "Finally, someone is standing up to that nasty lobby." A better lesson would be, "This is what happens when we let lobbies get out of hand. Let's try to create some overarching rules to diminish capacity." In other words, it's not just the lobby. More generally, it's whom the lobbies are lobbying. You focus so much on hamstringing one faction, another will just take it's place.

I'd like to see more talk about how to limit faction influence, like denying Congress from creating certain laws (such as those that restrict entry), but until the public grasps this big picture lesson, such a limitation is little more than a pipe dream.

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