Are there samples where one is lobbying but not rent seeking, another is lobbying rent seeking and bribing, another is one but not the other two, and via versa?

  • Just a note that a lot of these items get into specific election and office-holding laws. IE, the definition of buying a vote is not the same in all jurisdictions in the United States, and certainly not globally.
    – Eric
    Apr 4, 2018 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


As I wrote in my answer to your other question about rent-seeking: Rent-seeking is a motive while bribing and lobbying are acts. When one does lobbying or bribing, rent-seeking might or might not be their motive.

When one lobbies for a specific political change, they might be accused of doing it for rent-seeking if the change they are lobbying for would result in them gaining more money without also increasing their value for society.

For example: A widget maker lobbies for lowering the taxes for widget makers. In order to gain wide support for this proposal, the widget maker would argue that this isn't in his personal interest but in fact in the interest of the whole society:

"If I would pay less taxes, I could sell my widgets for a lower price. Everyone likes cheap widgets, so this would be a benefit for everyone."

A political opponent might then accuse the widget maker of having ulterior motives:

"Widget prices are controlled by the invisible hand of the market. If you would pay less taxes, you would have no incentive to lower your prices. All it would do is increase your personal profit margin. You are just rent-seeking.

The political opponent might then make a counter-proposal:

"If you are so interested in making cheap widgets available to everyone at the cost of the tax payer, why not have the government pay a subsidy to the customer when they buy a widget?"

The widget-maker would then reply:

"Aren't you one of my best customers? You are just interested in getting free money from the government for buying the widgets you would buy anyway. Now you are the one who is rent-seeking."

The politician listening to that argument might then think:

You are both annoying me. I won't do either and use that tax money to raise my own salary. I need that money to build my new personal golf course which I need to relieve all that stress I have from listening to greedy rent-seekers like you all day. And when I am less stressed, I can make better decisions for the good of the country. So raising my own salary is totally not rent-seeking because in the end it benefits everyone, right?!?

  • So a sample of lobbying without rent seeking would be something like I want subsidy for my widget because the widget have externalities? Something like that?
    – user4951
    Apr 7, 2018 at 16:59
  • @J.Chang If you are actually sincere about only caring about those externalities and not about any personal economic benefits for you, then yes.
    – Philipp
    Apr 7, 2018 at 17:46
  • But others, like expert economies, would say that you are still rent seeking because the effect is rent seeking. You may sincerely believe that your widget have externalities. But often there is simply none.
    – user4951
    Apr 25, 2018 at 4:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .