According to a pull survey carried out by CNBC, public in 7 out of the 13 most developed nations in the world strong believes that big business influence government so that they do not have to act responsibly. Put simply, the respondents stated, influential corporations ‘’rig the system’’ by controlling the governments.
The public sentiment is right. Whether it is to water down a potential corporate tax policy which might have threatened profits had it come into effect in its original form, or chasing new market opportunities, big businesses use lobbyists to bend the government to their will, and make money in the process.
As big businesses do that, it is the lobbying firms which come to the rescue of the common man. Here’s how they do that:
1. Make the market competitive
Imagine a scenario in which multiple lobbying firms are trying to influence the government on the behalf of their clients. None of them will be able to secure the whole coke for themselves. All of them, whether they like it or not, would have to suffice with a few pieces of influence.
As that happens, no single big business gets enough power to dominate the whole market. That, in turn, prevents them from artificially jacking up the prices to the detriment of the common man, as doing that would allow other companies, who are offering the same goods at a lower price, to fill in the void.
2. Protect the common man
Building on from the abovementioned example, what do you think will happen if, say, a single food-supplying firm controls a 90% share of the market? You guessed it: it won’t be pretty for the common man who depends on the market to purchase his daily needs.
It is this totalitarian scenario which lobbying firms help avoid. They make sure that the economic power is distributed not vertically but horizontally to benefit a large number of companies whose entry into the market would force it to remain competitive and offer goods at prices at which the common man can afford to purchase them.
3. Build people-friendly policies
The main reason why governments listen to big businesses is because the latter employ the people who elect the former to the corridors of power. In a sense, this is a weakness of governments which lobbying firms exploit to force them to come up with people-friendly policies.
Need example to understand this point?
Let’s assume a government is coming up with a policy that would ban fossil fuel consumption in an area where a petroleum refinery employs a substantial chunk of the population. In such a scenario, it is a lobbying firm which would use various methods (propaganda, civil society, third-party opinion) to stop the government from going ahead with its policy.
As it is in the rest of the world, government affairs consulting firms in Africa too are designed to protect the interest of the business. However, as we have shown above with examples, looking after the business is, by extension, looking after the people that those businesses employ. Therefore, while one cannot draw a direct line connecting the work of lobbying firms to how they’re supposed to benefit the common man, there do exist convoluted ways using which these firms help the common man.