This kicked off a great discussion, thank you.
The selfish-politics example that I think about a lot comes from the National Venture Capital Association. They’re the people that give money to all the startups that make up the tech world (Google, Facebook, Medium, etc.)
I think I have the details right — they come from an econ professor doing research into the role of government in innovation.
In the 70’s the NVCA started a marketing and lobbying campaign with the goal of lowering capital gains taxes (i.e. their taxes).
That’s reasonable selfish goal.
But the campaign they started was based on the idea that innovation only came from the private sector and so government needed to support that with lower taxes.
This part is not true.
Tons of innovation and the entire Silicon Valley originates with Government research and grants.
But this falsehood persists well beyond the now lowered capital gains taxes. It’s gotten to the point that European governments are trying to copy the Silicon Valley model by cutting their own government investments in research while also cutting capital gains.
When I write, I often make some assumptions about the audience so that I’m not constantly weakening the article with gotchas and edge cases.
In this case, I’m seeing three kinds of politics. The one I see most often is the every-day person’s idea of how the world should work. This is most often coming from a place of generosity.
The second, which you identify is the savvy selfish politics of lobbyists.
And the third is what happens at work.