I was recently speaking with a very politically active friend who has served in key, influential decision-making positions within the Republican Party. We both cynically remarked in the past how difficult it is to move the needle within the party system (note: Libertas Institute is politically neutral and not affiliated with any specific party or its platform.). We discussed how politics always ended up trumping principle, and re-election had become the end in itself, rather than the means to political change. As we spoke he conceded that his time could probably be better allocated fighting for liberty within an organization dedicated to that ideal. I couldn’t agree more.
I have spent my entire adult life involved, in some respect, in the political process. I have served in precincts, as a state delegate, fundraiser, and volunteer for different candidates or causes… and I’ve always voted. In none of these endeavors have I received as much satisfaction as in my involvement with Libertas Institute. If you’re wondering why, it’s all about the return on investment. Do you ever wonder why someone would spend millions of dollars trying to get elected to a position that lasts for a couple years and pays a fraction of the amount spent to get elected? If not for pride, most aspiring politicians would realize that the best bang for the buck is in lobbying.
A 2009 University of Kansas study found that lobbying efforts netted firms a 22,000% return on investment. This is the sort of thing that drives regular folks crazy. It’s understandable, then, to see corporations pour money into PACs and K-Street lobbyists in a bid for political favors, contracts, or tax breaks—it’s their most lucrative investment! Over the last five years the sugar industry spent $50 million on lobbying efforts, which seems like a lot until you see the $278 million spent last year alone in direct government aid to sugar companies.
For another example, take the case of the American Coalition for Ethanol. In 2011 over $6 billion was spent on ethanol subsidies and credits by the federal government, i.e. the taxpayers. In that same year the ACE spent a whopping $261,121 on lobbying, a 23,000% ROI. I don’t want to have readers misunderstand me—I have no problem with petitioning our representatives for a redress of grievances, or making our opinions heard, even if disproportionate to our percentage of the electorate. These are values enshrined in our founding documents, exercised by citizen activists of all political stripes, and should rightly be protected. In fact, I propose we actively seek out those who can magnify our contributions and invest in those individuals or groups that vigorously pursue our shared goals. It doesn’t require a lot of time or money to net a spectacular return on that investment, as can be seen above. Should we not also adopt the tactics of big corporations and lobby our legislators and other elected officials to protect unalienable rights with the same vigor that tycoons seek special treatment?
I can’t promise similar returns on your investment, because our organization is not looking for carve-outs and special treatment. We just want more individual liberty, freer markets, and protection of property rights for all. Those values don’t touch the same nerve as cane sugar and corn fuel. However, if these values are important to you and you’re seeking a voice to represent you in Utah and, by extension, national politics, you should support what we do.
Unlike multinational corporations which have the flexibility to spend millions on lobbying efforts, you and I get little attention. Furthermore, most of us are too busy with family, work, or other priorities to make a lot of time for volunteer political activity. If you were fortunate enough to be among the hundreds who attended the sold out Liberty Forum this year, you heard about the many legislative policy successes and media momentum gathered by the institute in the past year. By joining Libertas Institute, becoming our eyes and ears in your community, or volunteering a small amount of time as a citizen sponsor for next year’s legislative session, you can be a part of the liberty movement in Utah.
Make an investment in yourself, your family, and your state that you can be proud of—join us today!