Are special laws for business people based on pressure from special interest groups?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There is no one special law for business people, since there are many different laws and regulations that favor business people, and there are many different kinds of business people, who have different needs and agendas.  But generally, laws that favor business are the result of special interest groups lobbying the government and making contributions to politicians' campaigns. For some kinds of laws and regulations, all business people are on the same side, not fragmented into different special interests.  Certainly, the way businesses involve themselves in the legislative and regulatory process can be fairly characterized as a form of pressure.  We can look at a few different examples of this.

The energy industry, oil companies and coal companies, to name two, need laws and regulations that allow them to continue to freely exploit natural resources, so they can make profits.  When environmental protection laws and regulations are being considered, which do harm energy companies' profits by forcing the companies to safeguard the environment better, these business people send lobbyists to state legislatures and to Congress to try to persuade them to make the laws and regulations as lenient as possible. And they also contribute to political campaigns of those who promise looser regulations.

Small businesses frequently argue that laws and regulations make it difficult for them to be in business, since they lack the resources to comply as easily as major corporations can.  They are their own special interest group, and they, too, frequently lobby and contribute to political campaigns, to get special legislation designed to make it easier to start a small business or to stay in business.

Most business people argue against minimum wage laws and against providing various benefits to employees, and this is one area in which they all comprise one large special interest group.  Since states and the federal government all have minimum wage laws, their interest is in seeing to it that this minimum wage does not go any higher. And providing benefits such as sick leave or family leave is something else all businesses oppose.  These are all ways in which their profits are being cut into.  There are very large business associations, for example, the Chamber of Commerce, that lobby hard on these issues and that contribute large sums to politicians, to try to make the laws and regulations more favorable to them.

Thus, there are sometimes special interest groups that pressure legislators to make laws and regulations just for a particular industry, and there are also very large special interest groups that pressure legislators on behalf of all business people.  Whether this is a good state of affairs or a terrible one depends on whom you ask, but it is the way laws and regulations are created in the United States.

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