If you have taken our “Money, Politics – and You!” quiz, you already have a first idea about where you stand with your opinions on billionaires in politics.
We distinguish six perspectives that reflect different values and concerns:
In our quiz, we also present a few facts about the relationship between money and politics. There are different ways in which private wealth can affect public policy-making. The most important mechanisms are:
Electioneering: financing campaigns to get one’s favored candidate (or oneself) into power.
Lobbying & Advocacy: paying professional lobbyists to promote one’s interests and ideas among lawmakers.
Opinion shaping: financing media or think tanks in order to shape public opinion.
Philanthropy: funding foundations or other non-profit organizations that directly provide certain goods or services.
Sometimes these mechanisms overlap, for example when a billionaire’s philanthropic foundation is also lobbying for the cause it supports.
One may also argue that the most important influence of billionaires is through the companies they own: their products, their business practices, their investments, their market power, etc.. There is some truth to this viewpoint. However, in this respect, billionaires’ companies are not really different from other businesses.