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In what world do we want corporations campaigning?

Summary:
We too think this is a bad idea but from the other end - 6% looks like 6% too much to us:The world’s biggest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to tackle their climate impact but when it comes to using their corporate muscle to advocate for stronger climate policies, their engagement is almost nonexistent, according to a new report.Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation.We regard corporate lobbying of politicians as just one of those unfortunate things. We’d

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We too think this is a bad idea but from the other end - 6% looks like 6% too much to us:

The world’s biggest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to tackle their climate impact but when it comes to using their corporate muscle to advocate for stronger climate policies, their engagement is almost nonexistent, according to a new report.

Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about $65m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation.

We regard corporate lobbying of politicians as just one of those unfortunate things. We’d vastly prefer a more laissez faire world where everyone stuck to their knitting. But politics will continually interfere in how business is done therefore business will continually try to explain to politics how most plans for regulation are truly, deeply, madly, stupid. Plus there is that little point of those with an eye for the main chance attempting to get their competitors regulated out of business.

Less regulation would lead to less lobbying that is.

What would be worse, is worse, though is a demand that corporations - whether Big Tech or anything else - should be lobbying on non-business issues. For or against climate change - which is the issue here - or for or against free higher education, or gender recognition, or organic farming or any of the other subjects of political dispute these days.

Why would any of us want corporations weighing in on either, any, side of these issues? Acting according to whatever collective view they’ve got, sure, but spending money to influence politicians, which is what lobbying is?

There are actually reasons for promoting shareholder primacy and this is one of them. Why would we want Facebook, Google, Amazon or any of the others paying to tell politicians how many windmills the country should have?

If that doesn’t convince then think of this. Can you imagine the screaming from InfluenceMap if that corporate answer to that question were “fewer”?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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