An Environment Saturated with Regulations
That cup of coffee you ordered on the way to work this morning was served to you by a waiter whose tax obligation on the tip you left him is currently being debated at the tax authorities.
The coffee beans, which are not even grown in Israel, came here via an import system which is a regulatory network in its own. These coffee beans are roasted in ovens which are subject to the clean air law and packaged using a vacuum packing machine to preserve their flavor and prevent oxidization in compliance with the packaging law. There is property tax on the commercial building, and the cafe kitchen which produced your cup of coffee is licensed by the Ministry of Health.
and that’s not even half of the regulation of your cup of coffee.
So, how was the coffee this morning? Stimulating?
It depends who you ask. The cafe owner, who is in despair right now, because he has just found out that the tip is not a part of the waiter’s salary but is still taxable, or the roastery owner, who is just realizing that under the new regulations, he is considered a monopoly and a polluting factory, or the customer who indulges on his cup of coffee, but is finding it hard to get his head around the fact that the cafe is closed on Saturday.
What’s common to all the stakeholders involved in this cup of coffee, is the moment they all discovered the network of regulations.
The regulation system was created to balance between consumers’ needs and the needs of the state, using legislation, regulations and guidelines.
An efficient regulatory system functions as a transparent, almost invisible, system, except for cases which require active balance.
However, over the years we have witnessed these systems all over the world becoming more complex and cumbersome, and the regulatory density becoming so high, that sometimes the challenge of managing the balance of regulations is harder than managing the business itself. This state of affairs requires more and more professional input.
So, what is professional lobbying? Who uses this service? How does it work?
First, we can agree that the foundation of any for profit company or non-profit organization is a specific need or cause.
In this case, there is no difference between a company manufacturing fertilizers for agriculture, which claims, rightly so, that without its products there would not be enough food in the world, and a non-profit organization representing beach-goers and ecology, which fights against pollution of water and environment and claims that fertilizers wash out to sea, hurting aquatic life (for example).
Both represent a real public need, and both expect the legislator to recognize their cause and reflect it in legislation and regulations.
The legislator, elected by the public, is supposed to understand these values, study them and learn the implications of fulfilling each need. On the one hand, he is supposed to give incentives for food production, so everyone is fed, and also make sure it is healthy and fairly priced, and on the other hand, protect our coastline for us and for posterity.
In this case, the legislator acts like a judge who must settle the conflicts and contradictions between the different causes and values. A judge, however, does this by interpreting existing legislation in a balanced way, while a legislator will do this by initiating new laws and legislative amendments, a job for which he was elected and on which he is evaluated.
Just as it is obvious that someone facing court hires the services of a lawyer to help him deal with the legal system, so too companies who depend on regulation must seek out the assistance of lobbying services in managing their professional needs vis-à-vis the regulatory system.