Interest Groups Argumentative Essay
Researchers and scholars Hague, Harrop & Breslin (1994) make the argument that politics and interest cannot be separated.
Indeed, one finds this to be accurate to a very large extent, since politics is based on the attempt to make decisions in the interest of the people being governed in a particular state (2004, p. 100). Interest groups are defined as groups that have a common interest or activity in which they share (Singleton et al. , 2006).
Several types of groups exist: sectional (religious) groups, promotional groups, insider and outsider groups (1994, pp. 102-103).These groups include craft enthusiasts, sporting groups, religious groups, educational groups, trade unions, rights activists or even political/business groups that have specific goals to change policy and influence society. Due to the large spectrum that the term interest group encapsulates, this essay will limit the discussion to interest groups that primarily use political stances to change policy, educate or affect society in some way. Such political interest groups can also be called pressure groups, or lobbyists (Gray & Lowery, 2000; Ward & Steward, 2006).Since the goals of these groups are mainly to lobby for the interests of its members, as they often have a positive effect on the entire political climate as they tend to keep public officials accountable.
Yet, care must always be taken that such groups do not get too powerful and end up representing solely their own interests. The level of organization that exists within political interest groups contributes to an overall positive impact that they usually have in the political arena.These groups are usually self-governing and maintain a highly evolved and efficient corporate governance, which is essential to the proper performance of organizations (Ang & Boyer, 2007; Hollander, 2006, p. 81). Business groups can be very effective in encouraging investment and creating employment, and therefore as interest groups can often prove very beneficial to society (Parkin, Summers & Woodward, 2006; Singleton et al. , 2006).
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) presents a very good example of the extent to which organization can occur in such groups.The BCA exists as a grouping or association of many Australian corporations who have become united for the one purpose of discussing methods of improving the economy through public and economic policy (BCA, 2007). The structure of this interest group is evident in the plurality of its arms and the specificity of each arm’s duties. It is comprised of a board and several task forces that are “focused on advancing specific policy areas” (2007).
The group is an example of the necessity that organizations be strategically placed to communicate their strategies and positions on policy to members of the political community.The fact that the BCA is made up of several prosperous corporations makes it very influential and persuasive, and ensures its ability to act in the best interest of the economy. The BCA therefore demonstrates the positive effect that organized political interest groups may have on the nation. However, one drawback that exists with this kind of group is the fact that such business associations are in a privileged position to be able to influence these policies.
Business groups tend to be more powerful than non-business groups to the point where their structural power ensures their influence with the government due to successful lobbying. Technology-related groups are also powerful and therefore pose similar benefits and drawbacks (Greenemeier & Hoover, 2007). As governments are often dependent on such businesses to drive development and growth, checks and balances also need to exist, and should include measures that reduce the likelihood of interest groups’ having conflict of financial interests (Ryan, 000)Some interest groups can be so involved in the political scene that their status becomes raised to that of a political party. One such group is the Green Political Party (Eccleston, 2006, pg 79). The policy represented by this group at its outset is one that was centred on nuclear disarmament.
This issue is based on its universal commitment to peace, which might be considered a very positive cause for the Australian community. Since its inception, this interest group has gained such power that it has become a significant political party that favours such policies as peace, social justice, and democracy.Its opposition to nuclear power through the mining of uranium and its promotion of environmentally sustainable actions such as renewable energy has given a strong push to ecological considerations within the country. Furthermore, some have considered it to be the cornerstone of Australia’s democratic society, as it has advocated many humanitarian policies that have had the potential to enhancing the response of government in that regard (2006, p. 81). Such interest groups provide diverse views and specific expertise and act as a sounding board within the government to ensure the thoroughness and feasibility of policies to be implemented.
It can be noted that another benefit of interest groups can be found in the extent to which they are experienced in the planning and implementation of policies (Marsh, 2000). The interest groups named above, especially BCA with its status as a private sector group, demonstrate the type of experience and efficiency that such groups make available to the political arena. This removes much of the burden from governmental bodies, which are often so busy that the proper implementation of the new policies might be compromised.Therefore, once the interest group has secured the passing of a policy, their expertise also becomes invaluable at the time of implementation.
Interest groups are also to be found in the media and trade unions. Such entities ensure the transparency of the government as well as secure actions in the interest of the workers within a country. These interests groups have a globalizing effect and play very important role in the political system, even that of Australia (van Acker & Curran, 2004).The media, often considered the fourth government branch, makes it visible to the public whenever governments might be acting unscrupulously by unfairly giving one group the advantage over another (Hague, Harrop & Breslin, 1994; Weitzel, 2004). In the mean time, trade unions act in conjunction with the media to publicise the unfair treatment of workers in given industries and to suggest ways in which the government can help to better their conditions. Overall, these and other groups have an interest in providing a policy environment conducive to commercial success (van Acker & Curran, 2004).