My real education started were it starts probably for everyone who leaves college or university; at the job. At he job I learned that it was hard, if not impossible to act as an independent scientific researcher doing a job in a political context.
In the real world, science is not the centre of the universe, standing on its own with ‘objective truths’ as scientists see it. In the real word, science it part of a greater societal context, part of a bigger world. The world that surrounds sciences is a giant political arena filled with all sorts of powerful interests hiring and paying scientists to do research that substantiate, aka justifies or suits their interests to build their claims. I worked for governmental scientific institutes. And that didn’t make my position rather independent as I thought first, having the naivety of a young unexperienced researcher.
I thought that governments represented ‘independency’ as they are responsible for ‘the common goods’. As my work was in land- and water management, I had to work on studies financed by nature lobbyists to put reclaimed agricultural lowland from sea and rivers under water again. Thus the so called ‘scientific studies’ which I contributed to, were used by nature lobbyists to give the government a ‘good argument’ to use their legislative power to reclaim land from farmers to put under water again for the ‘sake of nature’. As there were plausible arguments to do so, there were at the same time also enough plausible counter arguments addressing the opposite, to keep it as farmland. I learned that nature lobbyists didn’t like to pay attention to plausible counter arguments, because they can’t gain or win anything on those.
As nature lobbyists want to restore river and sea basins, bringing them back to their original state, before the cultivation by humans, they weren’t supportive to any influences by agriculture. On the other hand agriculture lobbyists have an almost opposing view on nature. They consider farmland not only as a productive asset, there are lots species living on those fields as birds, frogs, fox, rabbits, insects, and many more. Cultivated land has room for nature too, but not the same as nature lobbyists like to see. It was my job to find a middle way in between those views of nature and agriculture lobbyists to make them both satisfied. These activities usually were discussions about who should have a ‘say’ on what, how and when and needed X amount of money to do it. In short; how the rules should be defined to play the next political round.
Behind the scenes it was not an equal process, as nature lobbyists got their recourses mainly via tax payer money and government legalization. Agriculture is not a typical activist sector as nature lobbyists are, but one of the main productive economic sectors in the Netherlands. Its assets are taxed by government. You see the difference? Nature lobbyist make a living of government, as agriculture pays governments via taxes on land, water and revenues from businesses. Also agriculture receives tax payer money, mainly via EU subsidies, but a difference is that this sector contributes a lot to the governmental tax revenue too. Follow the money and you will see how things really work. As nature lobbyists are backed by government, and agriculture to a lesser extent, the result is that agriculture has to give in often, aka paying the bill for nature plans. This is why government is not ‘neutral and independent’. My former post on water boards is also a good example on how lobbyists have found their way in these organizations.
I have seen too many nicely stated comprehensive visions on how a diversity of sectors and interest are working together to shape a so called ‘sustainable’, resilient’, ‘future proof’ (bla bla) economy and nature in particular regions. But when you have been behind the scenes of such well promoted government plans to the public, you see a completely different world, rather a fragmented world where an ongoing battle goes on to get access to government’s legalization ability in order to gain risk free power and control over somebody else’s assets as tax payer money, farmland, real estate, businesses, nature areas and more. I learned that there are almost no ‘common goods, owned by government, that is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. In reality ‘common goods are somebody else’s assets controlled by governmental regulations, giving lobbyist a risk free, monopolized power position. Thus government is merely a lobbyist platform by all sorts of interests to gain power and influence via legalization. Legalization secures political power. It’s that simple. Last but not least, as you may see, it has not much to do anymore with the discovery of ‘scientific truths in the end.
As I have been studying financial markets, monetary policy since 2011, I see an important overlap in how the ultra rich operate: they buy assets with somebody else’s (borrowed) money and thus pay less to no taxes. Also they never register those assets using their own name, always use legislative constructions to do so.
Government is a tool used by a lobbyists to leverage political power as financial derivatives are used in the financial world to build financial leverage. These processes often do not end well. As too much political power invites corruption and gaming of decision making systems for own interests at the expense of others, too much financial leverage is a recipe for financial destruction at the aspens of many, making profits for a few.