Two aspects of this have been tickling my haemorrhoids of late.
Firstly, in Private Eye (no online reference available, you're going to have to buy the Dead Tree version) there is an article about the British Petroleum American Oil Company and its lobbying efforts. There is a clear bias in the article which attacks BP for a) lobbying and b) being part of the usual "revolving door" scheme whereby regulators go off and work for the regulatees.
Now, it is despicable that governments allow themselves to be lobbied, but given that they do, is it surprising that a vested interest with enough money to lobby would do so? And at least they're just lobbying their way around pointless government regulations, and not rent-seeking like the banks did. In fact, you could argue that they were not successful enough in their lobbying, because they didn't get the go-ahead to drill in safer, more accessible places.
But my grumble is this: why the fuck do people never get indignant about the fact that governments are all willing parties to lobbying?
And given that it's entirely natural for vested interests to a) want to change legislation in their favour and b) have the money to do so (unlike the people who might actually benefit from the regulation) and given that it's also entirely natural for the government to seek input from the people that regulation might affect, how can you argue for a ban on lobbying?
In essence, government regulation might be well-intentioned, but because they aren't subject matter experts in the thing they're regulating, they have to ask their regulatees for input. The regulatees are going to do everything in their power to change the focus of the regulation to their benefit. In addition, they are usually few in number to consult, so the government will. And they have the budget to schmooze, so they can make government amenable to their gentle persuasion.
The people who would benefit are often too many to consult directly and their opinions are not as focused as the regulatees, so their perspective is often not as easy for the government to understand or apply to the situation.
Plus, they don't have the money to "lubricate the thought processes" over an agreeable lunch or whatever.
And finally, since the government is elected to represent the will of the people, they think that what they do is in the best interests of the people anyway. Just ask Tom Harris, who decries referenda as populist nonsense and a threat to elected democracy. So they don't really give a shit about the opinion of the alleged benefactors of regulation anyway.
It's a real catch-22 situation. Or even a double catch-22. And that's why regulation always seems to wind up benefiting regulatees from legislation meant to rein them in.
So, given that we depend on governments to regulate for our benefit but they don't really care about our benefit and we can't lobby as effectively as the regulatees anyway and the regulations always wind up having unintended consequences, most of which benefit the regulatees ... what can we do?
Here is the unthinkable heresy that no-one will contemplate: get rid of government. Deregulate everything and let market pricing determine everything. You will always get situations of asymmetry, but these will correct nearly instantly when the asymmetry becomes apparent, rather than let the government take years to address the asymmetry and then get it completely wrong.
It will never happen, mainly because government controls the education process and we are all brought up to believe that government is a natural and necessary thing. Corporates like government because they can bend it to their needs relatively easily. Government employs people who like power and attracts these people who want to maintain and grow the state. And finally, if all else fails, they have the guns, the police, the army and we don't.
So we're never going to get to that state (ho! ho!) of anarchic nirvana. But can we at least stop pretending that the government is the innocent stooge in all this corruption?