Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why

Hot on the heels of Tim Wilson's brilliant paper on how Australia taxpayers are funding left wing political activists through the foreign aid budget, Christopher Snowdon of the UK based Institute of Economic Affairs has just released a discussion paper on taxpayer funding of charities in Britain. Specific emphasis is on how "government funds and/or creates pressure groups with the intention of creating a ‘sock puppet’ version of civil society which creates the illusion of grassroots support for new legislation. These state-funded activists engage in direct lobbying of politicians) and indirect lobbying (of the public) using taxpayers’ money, thereby blurring the distinction between public and private action" and the problems this creates.

As he notes on his blog:
And yet the researcher's attitude was, I think, typical of the British public, who see charity in the terms described by the Devil's Kitchen:
People tend to think of charities as being... well... voluntary organisations, doing actual, physical good deeds in the community—whether that be running soup kitchens, cancer hospices or homeless shelters.

Today, alas, the truth is often very different...

But most of these organisations were indulging in little more than flat-out lobbying. And they were using our money to do it.

The situation is, of course, almost identical in Australia.

You can download the report here, and I would urge special attention be placed on Mr Snowdon's proposed solutions - all of which ought also be applied here.

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