PS - Interest Groups
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Define interest group. Why is "organization" a key factor?
- Interest Group - An organization of people and/or companies with specific policy goals, entering the policy process at several points.
- Organization is key because many people have interests but most fail to get organized.
Why are interest groups and political parties easily confused?
They both seek to influence policy.
What is the difference between interest groups and political parties?
- Political parties nominate a person to represent them and to get as many people as possible to vote for them so they often mute their positions on many issues.
- Interest groups have a specific viewpoint, while some groups have broader viewpoints, they have little to gain by muting their position.
What is the most important role performed by an interest group? Provide examples.
- Representing the interests of its members.
- - Tobacco Institute
- - Human Rights Campaign
Describe the five roles of interest groups.
- Representation - Represent interests of members
- Political Participation - Provide people with avenue to participate in politics
- Education - Educate members, general poputation and government officials of their interest
- Agenda Building - Seek to set agenda of issues debated by policy makers
- Program Monitoring - Monitor how governement administers programs that effect them
Where can you find a list of over twenty-five thousand organizations working to affect public policy?
The Encyclopedia of Associations
What is the most common type of interest group?
Business interest groups
What are three distinct types of organizations (Business interest groups)? What does each do and examples.
- Peak Business Organization - Want to speak for an entire business community: National Association of Manufacturers (represent ovr 10,000 manufacturing firms)
- Trade Associations - Represent companies in the same line of business: U.S. Petroleum Association (Mobil, Shell and Texico)
- Individual Companies - Influence on their own by hiring Washington lobbying firms to work with government officials
Which party has traditionally favored business?
The Republican Party
Why do democratic parties favor businesses?
Because of their finanicial contributions
How was George Bush's campaign affected by business contributions?
Over 75% of George Bush's campaign came from business interest groups.
How was Clinton's campaign affected by business contributions?
After the business interest groups helped him win he supported major international trading agreements, including trading privileges with China.
Why do labor unions try to influence the government on a wide range of issues?
Because all the issues are important to the American workers
What is the most important voice of organized labor and what does it include?
the AFL-CIO; including the Teamsters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the United Food and Commericial Workers International Union's, and United Auto Workers.
Define public interest groups? What is another name for them?
They work to promote their vision of the public good. Also known as Citizen Groups.
What are two prominent examples of professional associations? Why are they considered promient or professional associations?
The American Medical Association (AMA) and th American Bar Association (ABA). Their occupation requires extensive education, formal training and perhaps a government licensing.
List and explain the three organizational features shared by interest groups.
- Leadership/Decision Making Structure - Having staff in public relations or lobbying offices in Washington, D.C.
- Financial Structure - Sustain organization and fund group activities
- Attracting Members - They pay dues and participate in activities
What are three incentives offered by groups to attract membership? Examples for each.
- Solidary Incentives - Pleasure gained from being in the group; compainionship and status (Parent-Teacher Associations & Rotary Club)
- Material Incentives - Anything that makes a group financially attractive; can only be obtained by members of the group (American Association of Retired Persons: low-cost insurance, low-cost travel and store discounts)
- Purposive Incentives - Passionate feelings toward the goal of the group (tend to be smaller groups)
What is the main obstacle to interest group formation? Why does it happen?
Getting people to actually do the work. Due to collective goods which both members and non-members obtain
Mancur Olson says that interest shared by larger number of people have a harder time of getting organized. What reasons do Olson give and examples?
- Individuals assume that in such a large group someone else is doing the work and their effort is not needed.
- - Most people care about the environment but many do nothing because they feel others are doing the work.
- Sometimes the collective good gained is very small.
- - Heal the Bay cleans the Santa Monica Bay but each persons share of the bay is small and not many people go to in regularly.
What is the result of "collective good" free rider program? What is one direct negative impact?
Larger interest groups have a harder time tapping into their potential membership. These groups appear illigitimate and unrepresented so the interest of the group is unnoticed by politicians.
How can groups attract members?
By offering selective benefits that only members of the group can obtain.
What are material benefits? Example.
- Goods and services that come from belonging in a group.
- - The National Rifle Association's $25 annual membership fee entitles members to a magazine subscription, shooter's cap and eligibility to a low-interest credit card.
Who is most likely to join an interest group?
The affluent, better educated and those with clear self interest are more likely to join, participate and stay.
According to President Madison what are the only two solutions that exist to cure the "mischief of faction"? Which solution did he reject and why?
- 1. Do away with the freedom that spawns the conflict between groups
- 2. Encourage and nuture the factious nature of American society
- Madison reject the first "solution" because it would destroy the very foundation of the American self government experiment.
Describe Madison's constitutional theory.
Madison's constitutional theory was to have the governement encourage the proliferation of interest groups to prevent tranny by one group. Today it is called Pluralism and suggest that all interest groups should be free to pursue their goals through bargaining and compromise, accomodating the interest of other groups.
Give one example of how court decision stimulated interest group organizations.
When government moved to regulate the areas of automobiles, oil, gas, education, and health care interest group activity increased in the affected areas.
How did the Clintons set off a chain reaction of interest group activity?
They announced their plan to reform the health care system and hundreds of groups organized to massive lobbying efforts to move the reform in their direction. This included physicians, pharmaceutical companies, nurisng groups, mental health professionals, Prudential Insurance Company, Aetna and Ciqna. This is why no major reform has been legislated.
What are three characteristics of single interest groups?
- 1. Concerned about only one issue
- 2. Members are new to politics
- 3. Will not and cannot compromise on the issue
- Pro-life, pro-choice, Mother's Against Drunk Drivers and anti-muclear proliferation groups
What is PAC?
Political Action Committes are organizations that solicit campaign contributions from group members and channel them to candiates' campaign. Primary way by which interest groups contribute to federal election campaigns.
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