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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Giving money for lobbying for money

The circular nature of some subsidies

Update: the Taxpayers' Alliance has a major report on this issue, by Matthew Sinclair, which concluded that

Over £37 million was spent on taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning in 2007-08. That is nearly as much as the £38.9 million all three major political parties combined spent through their central campaigns at the 2005 election. But, the true amount spent on taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning may be much higher as this report has taken a conservative approach, focussing just on the most clear-cut examples.]

Is anybody else as shocked by this as I am?

Just last week, the UK Daily Telegraph reported that Globe International was funded in substantial part by the  British government. One grant from the Department for International Development sent £91,240 (AUS$140,000) into its coffers.

So in essence, the British Government is paying a not-for-profit environmental organisation to lobby the British Government on environmental policy. It's all rather weirdly incestuous.

We taxpayers are funding pressure groups to lobby our representatives for more money to be taken from us taxpayers and spent on their pet projects.

It's even worse in Brussels. According to the BBC:

In 2006 the EU gave more than 7.7m euros (£5.5m; $11.2m) to at least 40 environmental organisations to help them lobby in Brussels.

I'd be just as shocked if the money went to scientific, or free-market activists, whose ideas I support, by the way. You don't take money off people to spend it on getting people to argue for more money to be taken off them.

Tony Long, of WWF Europe, defended the arrangement.

As Mandy Rice-Davies said, he would wouldn't he?