More proof that government does things better! In traditional “astroturfing,” a company would pay a PR firm to set up a fake grassroots organization aimed at promoting or fending off legislation that would affect the company. Her Majesty’s Government in the UK, however, has decided to take this a step further and fund groups that lobby it, thereby creating a groundswell of public opinion in favor of its legislation. According to a new report by the Taxpayers Alliance, it is doing this, on the issue of global warming alone, to the tune of $12 million a year*.
As Matt Sinclair says:
With the government funding political campaigns as well, the voice of the public is diluted still further. Popular pressure is crowded out by well-funded professional campaigns, but those campaigns don’t even represent an actual economic interest. Instead, those campaigns represent the views of politicians and officials and allow them to push their ideological preoccupations to prominence in the public discourse. Green campaigns like the Sustainable Development Commission and the New Economics Foundation loom large in the public debate and make it easier for politicians to justify – to themselves, the media and the public – ever more draconian attempts to force cuts in emissions.
It is important that Americans understand how disconnected policy in Britain is from the preferences and priorities of the public. British politicians like to strut around on the world stage boasting about the radical action that the country is taking, for example, how we lead the world in setting carbon reduction targets. They hope that the U.S. won’t want to let the side down and can be pressured into embracing similar policies to ours. The European example might not quite have the same appeal if Americans understood that Britain is putting in place green policies not because of popular pressure but in order to satisfy a government-funded lobby. Ordinary people pay the price in the form of higher electricity bills, prices at the pump and fares for their airline tickets.
Political contempt for taxpayers and the electorate is running at record levels on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems.
*Note that this figure is above what the “well-funded” anti-alarmism groups probably spend in total on the issue even in the US, and probably globally.