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  • Macaca
    05-16 05:52 PM
    China�s recent obstreperousness may yet backfire, frightening the United States and its Asian partners into doing more to balance against its growing power. For now, however, the alarming news is that China�s strategy seems to be working much better than America�s. Washington has made basically no progress in pushing China toward democracy, nor has it succeeded in persuading Beijing to abandon ambitions�like controlling the entire South China Sea�that threaten the interests of America�s allies. For its part, China�s Communist Party remains firmly in command. Meanwhile, as China�s economy and military have matured, it has begun to mount a serious challenge to America�s position in Asia.

    Beijing has now become the most important trading partner for the advanced industrial nations of Northeast Asia and Australia, as well the comparatively poor countries on its frontiers. It is a leading investor in infrastructure development and resource extraction across the region. These thickening commercial ties have already begun to complicate calculations of national interest in various capitals.

    China�s rapid economic growth has also enabled a substantial expansion in military spending. And Beijing�s buildup has begun to yield impressive results. As of the early 1990s, the Pacific was, in essence, a U.S. lake. Today, the balance of military power is much less clearly in America�s favor, and, in certain respects, it has started to tilt toward China. While its arsenal remains comparatively small, Beijing�s ongoing deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles will give it a more secure second-strike nuclear capability. Washington�s threat to use nuclear weapons, if necessary, to counter Chinese aggression against its allies is therefore dwindling toward the vanishing point. As happened during the cold war, once the Soviets achieved a form of nuclear parity, the burden of deterrence will fall increasingly on the conventional forces of the United States and its allies. And, here, the trends are, if anything, more worrisome. Since the mid-1990s, China has been investing heavily in so-called �anti-access� capabilities to deter or defeat American efforts to project power into East Asia. People�s Liberation Army (PLA) strategists appear to believe that, with enough highly accurate, conventionally armed ballistic and cruise missiles, they could, in the event of a confrontation, deny U.S. forces the use of their regional air and naval bases and either sink or push back the aircraft carriers that are the other principal platform for America�s long-range power projection.

    If the PLA also develops a large and capable submarine force, and the ability to disable enemy satellites and computer networks, its generals may someday be able to convince themselves that, should push come to shove, they can knock the United States out of a war in the Western Pacific. Such scenarios may seem far-fetched, and in the normal course of events they would be. But a visibly deteriorating balance of military power could weaken deterrence and increase the risk of conflict. If Washington seems to be losing the ability to militarily uphold its alliance commitments, those Asian nations that now look to the United States as the ultimate guarantor of their security will have no choice but to reassess their current alignments. None of them want to live in a region dominated by China, but neither do they want to risk opposing it and then being left alone to face its wrath.


    When he first took office, Barack Obama seemed determined to adjust the proportions of the dual strategy he had inherited. Initially, he emphasized engagement and softpedaled efforts to check Chinese power. But at just the moment that American policymakers were reaching out to further engage China, their Chinese counterparts were moving in the opposite direction. In the past 18 months, the president and his advisers have responded, appropriately, by reversing course. Instead of playing up engagement, they have been placing increasing emphasis on balancing China�s regional power. For example, the president�s November 2010 swing through Asia was notable for the fact that it included stops in New Delhi, Seoul, Tokyo, and Jakarta, but not Beijing.

    This is all to the good, but it is not enough. The United States cannot and should not give up on engagement. However, our leaders need to abandon the diplomatic �happy talk� that has for too long distorted public discussion of U.S.-China relations. Washington must be more candid in acknowledging the limits of what engagement has achieved and more forthright in explaining the challenge a fast-rising but still authoritarian China poses to our interests and those of our allies. The steps that need to be taken in response�developing and deploying the kinds of military capabilities necessary to counter China�s anti-access strategy; working more closely with friends and allies, even in the face of objections from Beijing�will all come with steep costs, in terms of dollars and diplomatic capital. At a moment when the United States is fighting two-and-a-half wars, and trying to dig its way out from under a massive pile of debt, the resources and resolve necessary to deal with a seemingly distant danger are going to be hard to come by. This makes it all the more important that our leaders explain clearly that we are facing a difficult long-term geopolitical struggle with China, one that cannot be ignored or wished away.

    To be sure, China�s continuing rise is not inevitable. Unfavorable demographic trends and the costs of environmental degradation are likely to depress the country�s growth curve in the years ahead. And this is to say nothing of the possible disruptive effects of inflation, bursting real-estate bubbles, and a shaky financial system. So it is certainly possible that the challenge posed by China will fizzle on its own.

    But if you look at the history of relations between rising and dominant powers, and where they have led, what you find is not reassuring. In one important instance, the United States and Great Britain at the turn of the twentieth century, the nascent rivalry between the two countries was resolved peacefully. But in other cases�Germany and Britain in the run-up to World War I, Japan and the United States in the 1930s, and the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II�rivalry led to arms races and wars, either hot or cold. What saved the United States and Britain from such a clash was in part the similarity of their political systems. What made conflict likely in the latter scenarios were sharp differences in ideology. And so, unless China undergoes a fundamental transformation in the character of its regime, there is good reason to worry about where its rivalry with the United States will lead.

    Aaron L. Friedberg is a professor at Princeton University and the author of the forthcoming book A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia

    Dr. K�s Rx for China (http://www.newsweek.com/2011/05/15/dr-k-s-rx-for-china.html) By Niall Ferguson | Newsweek
    The China Challenge (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703864204576315223305697158.html) By Henry Kissinger | Wall Street Journal
    Henry Kissinger on China (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/books/review/book-review-on-china-by-henry-kissinger.html) By MAX FRANKEL | New York Times
    Modest U.S.-China progress (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20110514a1.html) The Japan Times Editorial
    U.S.-China's Knotty but Necessary Ties (http://www.cfr.org/china/us-chinas-knotty-but-necessary-ties/p24973) By John Pomfret | Council on Foreign Relations
    Do Americans hold �simple� ideas about China's economy? (http://curiouscapitalist.blogs.time.com/2011/05/12/do-americans-hold-%E2%80%9Csimple%E2%80%9D-ideas-about-china%E2%80%99s-economy/) By Michael Schuman | The Curious Capitalist





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  • ashkam
    04-15 02:59 PM
    Are people seriously arguing that a child will not be happier in a bigger home, everything else remaining constant? Seriously, is someone actually arguing this?

    And money can't buy happiness? Really? Are you saying everything else remaining constant if I gave you money it would make you sad? Seriously? Who is this person who would be sadder if I gave him money? I would like to meet him.

    You people need to stop reminiscing about your childhood days and how happy your childhood was even though you had no money. I have a feeling that your child doesn't really care. Sure, give your child lots of love, but for Christ's sake, if you can afford it, don't make him / her spend his / her childhood in a small cramped apartment just because you had to.





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  • senthil1
    05-16 12:15 AM
    Law is giving them to right for their unfair practice. So congress is trying to fix the law. Most of them may be abiding law but using unfair practice which affects many people. So there is nothing wrong in fixing the law. Actually they should have applied H1b whenever they need. But they applied H1b for 1 or 2 years so that they will find a job later whereas companies which are having immediate requirement could not find H1b. Is this right practice though 100% legal

    The deal with india is its home to billion people on the planet. Most of these companies recruit from India for same reason why Walmart gets most of its products from China. Free markets and Globalization is not a one way street. If american companies are so good and so caring they dont outsource , they outsource to further their bottomlines. If American companies dont want to outsource all these consulting companies will go out of business overnight.

    As far as your comments about employees from India .. most of these companies are listed in NASDAQ and NYSE (INFY, SAY, WIT).. At least some americans are share holders/owners of these companies. Dont be surprised to know the fact that some americans are on the boards of these companies .Let me make one thing clear, I am not a big fan of these companies , Infact I used work for of these companies and I have first hand experience how these companies treat their employees.

    If any one violates any law he or she should be brought to justice. I am not quite sure what laws these companies have violated. In this country any one is innocent till proven guilty.

    I totally understand your frustration with your VISA situation and hope and pray that you win VISA in the "lottery" .





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  • willwin
    07-13 04:01 PM
    At the outset, I am not against EB3, but lets think about this for a moment. Any logic that we use to break up spillover between EB2 and EB3 can also easily be applied to EB1 and EB2. I'll repeat an earlier post of mine. "How can EB1 of 2008 get the GC immediately when EB2-I (in my case) has to wait for more than 4 years - clearly preference is at play here".

    Any spilt will artificially retrogress EB2 more than what it otherwise would have. Similarly one can always argue to artificially retrogress EB1 to give more visas to EB2 just because someone from EB2 is waiting for 4 years.
    Isnt that against the law. Any break up of spill over visas invalidates the category preference as per current law.

    Please also note that any unfavorable change to the EB1 category based on a hypothetical approval of an EB2/EB3 break up will invite the attention of Fortune 500 companies and prestigious research/educational institutions (who use EB1 the most) with all their political and financial resources at their disposal. That could put a halt to everything.

    Irrational passion calls for dispassionate rationality.

    Delax, EB1 with PD 2008 is getting their GC within months not because they utilize an 100% spill over from 'somewhere'. It is just because they do not have enough applicants in the queue and hence no retrogression.

    Honestly, 'i don't think' the 'advantage' that EB3 and EB2 have - using spillover from other categories. Correct me if I was wrong.



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  • panky72
    08-07 09:17 PM
    A boy and his father (new immigrants in Canada), were visiting a shopping centre. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father: "What is this, Dad?" The father (never having seen an elevator) responded: "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."

    While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls opened up again and a beautiful and attractive 24-year-old woman stepped out.
    The father shouts to his son: "GO GET YOUR MOTHER!!!":D





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  • raj2007
    04-07 11:39 PM
    Desis who come here are all engineers and well educated. I couldn't believe that some of them are falling for the realtor tricks. I know someone who last year paid 200K more on an advertised price of 1million. He said the realtor told him that there was bidding war and he kept rising it and eventually got the house for 1.2million. What stupidity. Doesn't he know about phantom bids that realtors use to jack up the price.:( This is last year end when housing here started crashing. I asked him how he is going to pay when his arm resets. He says he will refinance. God save him.

    They are well educated but not street smart. Realtors are same everywhere and they know, how to misguide.



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  • jgh_res
    06-12 10:57 AM
    It's just not all media hype. I live in fairfax county and in the last 3 months any house that was listed at market price got sold. I have 3 friends that bought houses in the last few months.

    In Arlington County, the median sale price was up 11 percent to $469,000 and 239 homes were sold — up nearly 5 percent from the same month a year ago.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2009/06/08/daily55.html

    I am not saying that this is the right time to buy or anything like that. All I am saying is "Its just not media hype".


    Guys.. stay put for now..
    Did you hear that home sales are up! All these media and those streaky economists and so called "housing experts" claiming in the news channels for past couple of weeks?.. that is media messing around with people's head.. I was looking at the public records for home sales and found that a huge portion of current homes sales are nothing but LOW END old homes between (75K to 150K).. Only a neglegable percentage are the ones between (200K and above). This is exactly what media doesn't speak about.. they conveniently skip this part when they report on home sales lately...

    Its the gotcha guys.. now they started to increase price a bit.. banks are pushing up interest rates to create a scenario where people are made to believe soon, its going to be out of reach again.. so grab one now.. and get that $8000 credit for yourself.. What they are trying to do is, create an artificial demand.. We all know that it isn't going anywhere.. by Q409.. we will see the prices again going south.. only thing they can do is delay the natural correction during this summer.. Its going to happen any way.. and by end of fall into winter, it is highly expected to reach the floor and stabilize during 2010 spring and summer ( average price in the range of 4 times disposible annual income), if not further decline as we saw in certain areas of california and florida..

    When you are in the market for a home, do not go by these general claims by media folks.. brokers and realtors who fake the confidence.. you will have to segment and compare the specs to sales price with in your choice of segment.. (such as..homes below 200K, between 200K to 300K, 300K to 400K and so on.) Public records are available online for almost all the counties in US, you can pull that up to see whats going on in your area before you jump into conclusion. This will give us a better feel of the market and even better, bargain opportunity.





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  • BondJ
    05-16 05:54 PM
    Looks like, the letter sent out to India based business houses by the US senators has surprised the Commerce minister of India, Kamalnath. He is going take this up with US in the global trade meet at Brussels.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Kamal_Nath_surprised_on_H1-B_visa_issue/articleshow/2055323.cms



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  • amitga
    01-28 10:33 AM
    There has never been a mention of the H1b visas approved and those that do not fall under the quota....

    This guy is just after his ratings nothing else...his book explicitly quotes that H1b and L1 visa holders do not pay any taxes and transfer all the money home. (CNN has a few hundreds of them on H1b)

    When there was a huge debate on illegal immigration he quoted he was all for legal immigration. The only way one can legally immigrate with skills is via H1b visa and he is against it.


    Can't Lou be sued for intentionally having false information in his book. At lease we should all add negative comments about his book on Amazon.com reviews. His book rating on Amazon is 4 and we should add 30-40 comments to bring the rating to at least 2-3 star.

    Lou's Book (http://www.amazon.com/War-Middle-Class-Government-Business/dp/0670037923/sr=8-1/qid=1170001461/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-9355488-1919237?ie=UTF8&s=books)





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  • abcdgc
    12-27 02:02 AM
    It is my reading that if India performs surgical strikes on the terrorist camps in Pakistan, Pakistan will not be able to do anything because according to Pakistan, there are no terrorist camps, so how can someone bomb a camp if that camp doesn't exist.

    I think US has told Gilani and Zardari not to respond if India conducts 1-2 surgical strikes. But Kaayani wants to respond. That's why Musharraf is making public statements saying that - if India strikes, "Democratically elected" President & PM will take steps to respond. Musharraf is putting the onus to respond on Zardari and Gilani. They do not want to respond. But Kaayani will order a response anyways, without a go ahead from Zardari and Gilani. There is only 1 stading institution in Pakistan - its army. We have to dismatle Pakistani army and ISI, otherwise it will continue to breed & foster more terrorist.



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  • StuckInTheMuck
    08-06 11:14 AM
    Got past me too :)





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  • sledge_hammer
    06-05 04:49 PM
    Your leverage is $270,000 in this investment, and you pay 5% interest on it which is tax deductible. You don't suppose one can borrow 270Gs to invest in, per my example, S&P 500 to get 10% annually? Of course the you are able to borrow that much on a home is because it is considered relatively a safe debt for the lender. That can't be said for stocks.

    How/where else will you earn $15,000 (equity) per year by spending $13,500 (interest).

    EDIT:
    Remember, every payment I make, I also include the principal payment, so I am closer to owning more of my home as time passes.

    >> But going with the spirit of my original post, in the long run, the equity you build (15K/yr) will far out weigh the yearly savings you get by renting.

    You are right in 90% of cases - where people will otherwise spend the money and not save it.

    If you have a mortgage - you are "forced" to save because the monthly amortization automatically builds equity. If you are renting - you are not "forced" to save that amount - and hence would probably be spent (in my case) in a gaming machine with I7 processor (which has NO long term value).

    However, in the hypothetical 10% scenario (in case of immigrants, specially Indians, my gut feel is that it is significantly more than 10%) - where the amount is saved in some sort of investment vehicle instead of being frittered away - you would come out ahead in the long term.



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  • Marphad
    12-18 12:11 PM
    I dont see anything wrong in what Auntlay asked for.. he has asked for investigation as to how Karkare was killed.
    his initial verbage was not good.. but what he asked later was completely justified..
    All the people in the van, in which Karkare was killed, died except one Hawaldar..
    And all the top cops in the same van at the same time, somethings needs to be justified..

    True. No doubt this needs investigation. But Antulay's intentions were horrible.





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  • qasleuth
    03-31 07:44 PM
    May be their receipt dates are close.. Remember, CIS can't sort the application by PD. They can process in FIFO of RD.

    Nope...was keeping an eye on that too. Sent PMs to a few and could see no trend in the receipt date/notice date either.



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  • akred
    04-07 03:09 PM
    Let me guess, you work at a R&D facility, right? May be, looking for the best way to fit in your individual situation. No offense meant, however, I would request IV and its membership to have a bigger perspective in dealing whit this bill. Otherwise, 500,000 people will be systematically purged from US. And that includes most people waiting for their green cards.

    For sure, this bill is bad. However I do think that the H1B program should have some way of making a distinction between what is essentially a market access issue for foreign companies and a means for domestic companies to hire foreign talent.





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  • gcseeker2002
    12-27 12:55 PM
    Found this somewhere in the internet , this is meant for those Indian muslims who want to cause havoc in India.

    Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.


    Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians. '


    'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'


    'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!'


    'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'

    'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'

    'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.'


    'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'


    Maybe if we circulate this , Indian citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths against islamic radicals infesting the country.



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  • vinabath
    03-26 10:06 AM
    U should look more at Pre-forclosure ( if u can get hold of one) than the foreclosed properties. Most of forclosed properties need substantial investment to fix them. Generally public gets the last chance of good foreclosed properties. It is a bank- real estate nexus which eats up the good inventory before hitting into the market. US home auction is not a real auction but more like a open house for 100 properties at the same time. Quality of inventory is not worth it.

    Excellent point. If you friends with real estate investor, they might get you a deal. Its the same thing like used car sales. If you know the guy who does car auctions all the time you will get a nice car for real cheap. Same thing with houses too. Start looking for a good real estate investor. These people might charge some money for

    1. finding a good deal
    2. going thru auction/shortsale/whatever
    3. fixup the house
    4. help in financing
    5. their profit

    giving that money is worth the hassle.

    The most difficult part finding this person.





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  • ilwaiting
    04-09 11:46 AM
    Yes you are correct. Employee has nothing to do with the Abuse. More over most of the employers have nothing to do with the abuse as well. Lawmakers must get their facts straight before imposing such foolish laws.


    Pete, I am myself a manager at a leading company and do not fit into the typical "consultant" profile.

    That does not mean I want more shackles on myself because I feel someone is abusing the system. If someone (employers) are abusing the system, go after them - why do you want to go after the employee who, in a lot of cases, has nothing to do with the abuse?

    In fact, if this bill passed in its current form, it will probably not affect me but I will still oppose the bill - why, because it goes against my fundamental belief of freedom of movement. If the senators want to reform the system, may I ask

    1. Why prevent H1Bs from joining legitimate consulting companies such as Deloitte, IBM, BCG etc

    2. Why should H1B's pay Social security and medicare when they are "temporary" and do not get a dime back?

    Think of the bigger picture and then about your own objectives - I am sure you are a well educated person and you will understand the consequences of arbitrary decision making based on vested interests.





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  • geesee
    06-06 05:01 PM
    I agree with above few posts.. I wouldnt recommend buying a house if you are working in technology field.. Most of the companies are sending tech jobs offshore and god forbid if you find yourself in a situation where you dont have a job for couple of months, at least you have an option to pack up and go back to own country... I myself bought a house in 2005, I dont regret the decision, but I would feel much safer otherwise.





    svn
    03-31 07:27 PM
    USCIS seems to be making a coordinated attempt to preadjudicate in order to avoid future backlogs (to achieve their metrics on processing times). See thread on Processing Time Targets they have set for themselves: http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/showthread.php?t=24747





    Macaca
    09-27 12:06 PM
    In defense of lobbying (http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/09/in-defense-of-l.html) This country�s Founders actually set up a system to encourage the petitioning of government. And yes, like it or not, that means lobbyists have the same claims to the First Amendment as our free press does By Ross K. Baker | USA Today, sep 27, 2007

    Ross K. Baker is a political science professor at Rutgers University. He also is a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors.

    There was a moment in one of the recent Democratic debates in which former senator John Edwards practically accused Sen. Hillary Clinton of being in league with the devil. For some time, he had been attacking her for accepting contributions from lobbyists. Now, using the occasion of a just-passed lobbying reform bill awaiting the signature of a skeptical president, he exceeded even his previous needling of her by suggesting guilt-by-association. Turning to the audience, he charged that lobbyists, such as those who contribute to Clinton, "rig the system against all of you (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/us/politics/09edwards.html?_r=1&ex=1187841600&en=a9c739db3da26fdf&ei=5070&oref=slogin)."

    Edwards' accusations deftly played into a belief common even among well-educated Americans that lobbying, if not actually illegal, is a blot on American politics. The problem with this belief is that it is misinformed.

    It might come as a surprise to most people that lobbying is a constitutionally protected activity (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/06/AR2006010602251.html) under the hallowed First Amendment. After the Founding Fathers cast the cloak of protection over freedom of religion, the press and the right to peacefully assemble, they added a category that could not be infringed upon by the federal government: "to petition the government for a redress of grievances (http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html)."

    Few contemporary efforts to influence government action come by way of a formal petition. But the idea of giving citizens access to government was seen by the writers of the Constitution as something worth safeguarding. And it is, indeed, worth safeguarding because every group in America, at one time or another, has got a gripe and turns to Congress or the federal bureaucracy.

    Groups engaged in activities that might seem wholly unconnected with politics, such as the American Automobile Association (http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/b_three_sections_with_teasers/clientlist_page_H.htm) (the folks who get your car started on cold mornings), maintain a presence in Washington to monitor what goes on in Congress. When lawmakers and congressional staffers return from their summer recess, the army of lobbyists storms Washington alongside them.

    Religious and military organizations, despite the apolitical nature of our armed forces and the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state, stick very close to Congress. So close are the Methodists (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=internal&addtohistory=&latitude=gpYbdG8nTTbstJWZbHF4nQ%3d%3d&longitude=UTH%2fxgxU3NJ%2fZzEipoIpSw%3d%3d&name=General%20Board%2dGlbl%20Ministries&country=US&address=100%20Maryland%20Ave%20NE%20%23%20315&city=Washington&state=DC&zipcode=20002&phone=202%2d548%2d4002&spurl=0&&q=The%20United%20Methodist%20General%20Board%20of% 20Church%20and%20Society&qc=%28All%29%20Places%20Of%20Worship) and the Reserve Officers Association (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=internal&addtohistory=&latitude=2jypmtPMGHqb5z8DqMKpow%3d%3d&longitude=CIpOYIVGteZ%2bBzAf6jdV1Q%3d%3d&name=Reserve%20Officers%20Assn%20of%20US&country=US&address=101%20Constitution%20Ave%20NE&city=Washington&state=DC&zipcode=20002&phone=202%2d479%2d2221&spurl=0&&q=Reserve%20Officers%20Association&qc=Associations) that their Washington offices literally overlook the Senate office buildings.

    To be sure, the vast bulk of the roughly 35,000 lobbyists in town represent businesses and industries. Nonetheless, as citizens of a commercial republic, should this really surprise us?

    A vision of dueling interests

    James Madison recognized the tendency of Americans to advance their own economic self-interest at the expense of the general good and pondered what to do about it. He dismissed (http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/7.htm) the possibility of banning these "factions," arguing that they are a byproduct of our freedom.

    His solution was just to allow them to multiply and, as the country expanded, no single interest would dominate. Free to struggle for influence, they would checkmate each other.

    What Madison had not reckoned on was the vast expansion in the scope of activities of the federal government over the next 200 years.

    As the government expanded, it has affected the lives and livelihoods of more people. They, in turn, want to ensure that government action does not harm them. Even better, they look to an expansive government to benefit them. So if the federal government gets into the business of building dams, they want to supply the cement. If Washington decides to prop up farm prices with subsidies, as it first did in the 1930s (http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-0203.html), you want to make sure your commodity gets its share.

    People of the revolutionary generation probably imagined that individuals would make their way to Washington to personally make their case for government help. They could not have imagined the hordes of surrogates, many of them receiving princely sums, who would take up residence in the nation's capital and subsist on pressing the cases of others. The idea that a professional advocate such as Jack Abramoff would be corruptly influencing the federal government would have been altogether inconceivable to James Madison.

    The good with the bad

    The defect in Madison's architecture is not that interest groups would proliferate, but that there would be such an imbalance between those seeking to get or maintain private gain and those advocating for the needs of humbler people. There are, of course, multitudes of lobbyists who advocate the needs of the handicapped, the elderly and endangered species, but they are often out-gunned by trade associations and industry lobbyists.

    The defeat in the House of the recent effort to require U.S. automakers to boost the fuel economy (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20079816/) of their cars is eloquent testimony to the clout of business. On the other hand, the high rollers who pushed for the elimination of the inheritance tax (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/273376_estatewash09.html) received a stinging rebuke when the repeal that they favored was defeated in the Senate. The big boys don't always get what they want, especially when the focus of the media puts the issue out in the open.

    There are in lobbying, as in other enterprises, noble and degraded examples. So you have the Children's Defense Fund pushing for an expansion (http://www.cdfactioncouncil.org/childhealth/) of the State Children's Health Insurance Plan and a smug and arrogant Abramoff manipulating the Bureau of Indian Affairs (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-01-30-tribes-giving_x.htm) on behalf of his well-heeled clients.

    Both are lobbying. Even so, it would be as unfair to assume that all lobbyists are like Jack Abramoff as it would be to liken all physicians to Jack Kevorkian.



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