POL 443 Week 5 Assignment Public Policy Influences Paper
POL 443 Week 5 Assignment Public Policy Influences Paper
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Public Policy Influences Paper 1 Running Head: PUBLIC POLICY INFLUENCES PAPER Public Policy Influences Paper PETA and Controversial Tactics with Animal Rights Name Wealth and Power in America POL 443 Date Summary Public Policy Influences Paper 2 The Animal Rights Movement has become a growing trend that involves protecting the basic needs of animals and in fact, believes that animals should be given the same consideration as that of humans. Those simple needs are the right to shelter, food and medical treatment. Animals should not be treated inhumanely. Legislation should be clearly written that articulates the protection of all animals. The laws would then afford them protection along with ethical and humane treatment in prescribed factions. Animal owners and enthusiasts have long argued that animals need protection and should receive humane care and proper treatment. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is a progressive animal advocacy group. The group has used what some consider extreme approaches to achieve results as a primary organization in the Animal Rights Movement. The media is the chief weapon of choice. “PETA goes after places, people, events and social ideology and find a way to seize the media headlines, or create their own.”(Frel, 2005) Their tactics involve the use of powerful metaphors and strong imagery. PETA is a powerful and successful nonprofit organization base. From their base of operations, the group uses numerous resources to promote their message. This group stands out for the intensity of their actions and willingness, without hesitation, to take on all ascenders to the throne. Other organizations in the Animal Rights Movements have seen their hard work and resources silenced. This paper will focus on PETA and their controversial tactics with animal rights. Public Policy Influences Paper 3 Analysis Since the founding of PETA in 1980, the organization has been dedicated to the establishment and defense of animal rights. Many of us have witnessed through media outlets, acts of PETA’s protest to the wearing of fur clothing; however, this is just an action that does not speak to the core of the organization. Since the organization’s inception, PETA has had influence over large corporations to ban animal cruelty. “PETA was victorious over the General Motors Corporation, which ended its use of animals in crash tests.”(PETA, n.d.) After being pressured by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and PETA, the American College of Surgeons “replaced animals with simulations at its training conferences and is now urging medical schools to adopt nonanimal training alternatives.” (PETA, n.d.) PETA’s strong standing in the public is so prevalent that the organization has attracted support from Hollywood celebrities who have bared it all in ad campaigns claiming they would rather go naked than wear fur. Separate from PETA’s infamous actions of throwing red paint on those that wear fur, their educational aspirations consist of media buys in the hopes of reaching out to more potential activists. PETA believes that a large part of activism is educating others. Besides saving animals, PETA also seeks to prevent cruelty by “educating people of all ages to bring about positive changes in the ways people interact with and treat animals.” (Commonwealth of Virginia, 2008) PETA's programs and services include education programs, research, investigations, rescue work and grassroots activism. Last year, PETA created and distributed a multidisciplinary humane education program for students across the country. Every “public and Public Policy Influences Paper 4 private elementary school in Virginia and nationally received the program.” (Commonwealth of Virginia, 2008) Advantages PETA is a special interest group that consists of privatesector members who share a common interest, that of animal rights. The advantage that PETA has over political parties and individuals is their ability to pool resources which allows them a more prominent voice than just one or a few individuals. Political parties, consisting of Republicans and Democrats, and other minor parties, can be biased or corruptible. The lobbying efforts of PETA can sometimes be considered quite aggressive and radical, however, the advantage that they have is due to their notoriety and sheer size. “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are one of the more rabid, radical and influential environmental groups on the scene today.”(Arnold, n.d.) The Animal Rights Reporter called PETA "the most influential organization in the animal rights movement.” PETA has established an impressive track record of orchestrated events which bring the organization media attention, movement respect, and member donations. PETA “has grown in size and scope, resembling a small corporation more than the cutting edge of a social movement." (Arnold, n.d.) PETA owns stock in more than 80 companies for the primary purpose of having the ability to submit shareholder resolutions. Although these resolutions are used as last resort, it does provide an advantage when pushing companies to provide purchasing preference to those suppliers that use less cruel slaughtering methods. Public Policy Influences Paper 5 PETA and Lobbyists PETA has laid the foundation on the process of lobbying for any interested participants. On their website is contained the foundation of what they view as important steps in lobbying, to obtain the most desirable outcome on the issue at hand. PETA starts out by stating the importance of “knowing how to communicate with your public officials.” (PETA Action Center, 2009) PETA encourages individuals to “identify those officials by calling, asking and looking online.” (PETA Action Center, 2009) PETA further identifies “getting to know as many legislators as possible” and not wait until “your group wants to introduce a bill; Lay the foundation before you start your legislative campaign.” (PETA Action Center, 2009) PETA states that “efforts to create new legislation are an essential part of any movement for social change.” (PETA Media Center, 2009) PETA is all about making changes when it comes to animals. They push for letters, phone calls and meetings when it comes to animal rights. PETA also provide the steps to initiate that action. PETA stated that “before most elected officials will introduce animalfriendly legislation, they must be convinced that there is sufficient public support.” (PETA Media Center, 2009) This is where PETA asks for public support to lobby for or against an issue. For example, “When lawmakers were considering legislation to ban the forcefeeding of birds for foie gras production in California, campaigners sent out more than 1,000 letters to their representatives, and one senator commented that he was ‘surprised…at the amount of people who turned out for this bill,’ which eventually turned into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.”(PETA Media Center, 2009) Public Policy Influences Paper 6 Political Action Committee Role Evaluation PETA and animal rights are two major issues in debate around the world. Though they generally are seen as going handinhand, PETA as an organization has issues that PAC’s raise moral questions about. PETA’s radical methods to prevent the abuse, neglect, or harm to animals has brought a great deal of attention to their group but not in a good way. “PETA Kills Animals” is a site dedicated to the ruin of PETA, a branch of the nonprofit organization: Center for Consumer Freedom. In their own way, this site is an action committee, as it rallies the public, gains support, and undermines the PETA organization. In its most recent act, they published an article to the public explaining how PETA has killed more than “90% of animals in its care.” (Freedom, 2009) Where programs like the ASPCA, shelter and fight for the adoption of animals, PETA takes the easy way out, by putting animals ‘out of their misery’ (Freedom, 2009) As mentioned, a less severe group that makes a positive impact on the lives of animals is the ASPCA. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a nonprofit organization that is most notably the number one action committee for animal rights. The ASPCA rallies, protests, advertises, and petitions for global support for their cause. From their mission statement, the key role played in animal rights can best be summed up “As the first humane organization to be granted legal authority to investigate and make arrests for crimes against animals, we are wholly dedicated to fulfilling the ASPCA mission through nonviolent approaches.” (Bergh, 2009) Contrary to PETA and their potentially violent ways, the ASPCA has been making a huge impact in favor of animals on both a societal and governmental level. Public Policy Influences Paper 7 Public Policy Influences Paper 8 Issue network influence on public policy Issue networks are an “alliance of various interest groups and individuals united to promote a single issue in government policy.” (MerriamWebster, 2009) Issue Networks play an important role in the development of American public policy. Traditionally, this involvement is “characterized as nonprofit interest group representation, aimed at influencing public policy through lobbying and mobilization activities.”(Wiley, 2009) Through their involvement in the formative phases of public policy in issue networks, nonprofit policy activists play an active role as "coproducers" of public policy.” (Wiley, 2009) PETA has a “Get Involved” section on their website which discusses current animal rights issues and encourages people to get involved by signing petitions, attending informative sessions regarding the issues, and blogging. Blogging allows PETA’s website visitors to discuss current animal rights issues and comment on other members/visitor’s blogs. PETA’s website is currently encouraging people to get involved with an ongoing issue in the Virginia Public Schools. URGENT: Urge Virginia Public Schools to Halt Their Alleged Use of Cruel Glue Traps is the headline that reads on today’s section of “Get Involved.” Distraught parents of children attending Norfolk and Chesapeake, Virginia, schools contacted PETA after learning of the alleged use of glue traps to ensnare and kill mice in the schools' buildings and campuses. PETA contacted school officials, apprising them of “the inherent and extreme cruelty of these devices and asking that they remove the traps immediately and instead explore humane pestcontrol alternatives.” (PETA, 2009) Officials suggested that “they would look into the matter, but there has been no indication that the traps have been removed.” (PETA, 2009) PETA is urging students and parents to write a letter expressing their Public Policy Influences Paper 9 concerns on the issue. These letters will be distributed via PETA’s website to Virginia Beach Public School’s Assistant Superintendent Steven M. Gilbert, Superintendent Stephen C. Jones, and Superintendent W. Randolph Nichols. Parents of children attending these schools are also encouraged to write personalized letters for they work best. Comparative Analysis The four groups analyzed are similar, as they are created for purpose of fighting for a specific cause and effectively seeking to change the course of action or directive of that cause. Those that focus on the policies of PETA are concerned with the treatment of animals and methods desirable for the humane care of those animals, specifically in areas of laboratory testing. PETA has a following consisting of regular citizens who believe in the opinions and views of the organization. PETA’s mission is to stop the harmful treatment of all animals nationwide. Special interest groups work favorably for PETA because they support the organizations ideas. PAC does normally represent the causes of businesses and issues relevant to the treatment of animals. Their goal is to raise money in their bid to get a candidate elected into office, that they feel will be beneficial to the causes of their clients, in this case PETA. Lobbyists have an expressed purpose of persuading legislators to pass laws that would benefit the views of a specific cause. PETA does not use registered lobbyists; they instead prefer to enlist their members to become individual lobbyists. This is done by writing their legislators through letter campaigns; the belief is that elected officials will listen to the voters in their districts. PETA’s practice with issue networks are geared towards those groups that have organized views coinciding with PETA’s interests. They align with groups that can effectively make policy Public Policy Influences Paper 10 changes or business procedures, which would cause a resulting public policy change. The finding is that PETA uses all of the above methods for promotion purposes. They appear to prefer educating the public on how animals are mistreated via graphic television ads and literature reflecting the treatment of animals and how they are used for experimental testing in laboratories by medical schools and cosmetic companies. Operation of Groups After a thorough review of each group: PAC'S, lobbyists, and issue networks, Team A finds that they have very distinct characteristics in how they operate and affect change. PAC'S or political action committees can be formed by private groups put together to elect political candidates. The purpose is to ensure that their candidate of interest or party member wins the campaign. These groups are most prevalent during elections, but even after an election is over, PAC's are relevant. For example, Sarah Palin has started what's called a leadership PAC to aide and promote Republican candidates. Some candidates do rebound after losing the vice presidential race. Sarah Palin has already begun the ground work to make sure her name does not disappear from the spotlight. The PAC's focus is to raise enough money from private groups to get a candidate elected. The rules are “no more than $5,000 can be given to a candidate committee per election and $15,000 annually to any national party committee.” (Longley, 2008) Alternately, “no limit exists on the amount used in advertisements.” (Longley, 2008) Lobbyists on the other hand, focus their agenda on the "top dogs": the National level. Primarily, people who become lobbyists formerly worked within the federal government and already know the mechanisms of the system. They are then hired to fight and persuade legislation, to approve or disapprove of bills being brought before them. They then try to persuade legislators of the merits Public Policy Influences Paper 11 of the bill with their constituents. "Lobbyists depend on personal relationships with members of Congress and the executive branch, which are based on keeping in regular contact."(Cliff Notes, 2009) In this case, several groups unite for the same cause. Examples of networks rallied together by individuals or groups: are gun rights, abortion, domestic violence, environmental and drug enforcement laws. Issue networks can be very popular and less intimidating to participate in because of their ability to go beyond mutual demographics. These issue groups can be domestic or international, with a preference for internet communication. This allows participants everywhere to be active and feel involved. Effect of Group Resources Logically, one would think that an issue would be decided in favor of the group with the greatest material resources due to the enormous amount of influence monetary issues have in our political system. Additionally, if the issue were uncontested by another party, one would think a decision would be easily won in favor of the presenting entity. However, the political and economic climate at the time may have a determining affect upon the issue at hand. A sudden shift in the economy such as was experienced recently can have a dramatic effect on how attractive an issue may be. One study found “issues involving multiple parties were found to have a fairly even split, materially on each side of the issue. “(Leech, et al, 2007) This was due to the organizational effect of groups with little material resources partnering with wealthier groups. Over the years, legislation has been passed in order to level the playing field, to prevent groups with tremendous material resources from having an undue influence in the political arena. The ubiquity of technology has also leveled the communication field so that groups with little Public Policy Influences Paper 12 material resources can still be effective in getting their message out to the masses. In order to be successful, necessity requires groups be more effective at resource use as opposed to simply having resources. The recent Obama Presidential campaign exemplifies this strategy. Obama waged a very successful campaign by leveraging technology to organize people, conduct fund raising, and coordinate the Presidential campaign. The Obama website allowed “likeminded people to communicate with each other strengthening the cohesiveness of the group.” (The Economist, 2008) Group Competition The competition between PETA and other groups causes a great deal of mixed emotions concerning the cause of animal rights in terms of ideology. PETA’s unorthodox methods bring discredit to other groups that have a sincere interest in protecting the rights of animals within socially acceptable standards. PETA has such a loud voice and is often in the media, that people associate animal rights groups with extremism and fanaticism. PETA’s methods also make competing animal rights groups look attractive. According to an antiPETA Website called petakillsanimals.com, “PETA has been accused of killing more than 90% of the adoptable animals in its care in the state of Virginia during 2007.” (PETAkillsanimals, 2009) In comparison, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA, 2009) in Virginia Beach, Virginia was able “to adopt out 70% of the animals in its care compared to PETA, who found homes for less than 1%.” (Petakillsanimals, 2009) Specific competition exists in terms of resources. PETA reported “earned over $34 million for the fiscal year ending July 2008.”(PETA.com, 2009) Its earnings came mostly from member contributions. In direct opposition, the ASPCA reported revenues of over $75 million for the period ending December Public Policy Influences Paper 13 31, 2007. These two organizations compete for support and member contributions. Members joining one group, deny potential revenue for the other group. PETA’s unorthodox methods may persuade animal lovers to contribute to the ASPCA instead of PETA. Public Policy Influences Paper 14 Healthy Debate or Gridlock? Lobbyists are influential and shaped by the existing political framework. This group seeks to identify opportunities to raise political issues shared mutually by the group and their clients. Interest groups or pressure groups, use socially relevant platforms when interacting with our government. PACs are formed for those wishing to take an active role with campaign contributions. Significant spending on political campaigns can impact the elections’ outcome or voting decisions of the legislators. Issue Networks focus on regulatory practices to promote policy change and polarize the organization. Competition is healthy and allows for a thorough understanding of the different roles in our political democracy. Over the years these groups have played key roles. PETA, while controversial, unorthodox and aggressive seeks to garner exposure for animal rights by using media coverage issues then stay on the political burner. Public Policy Influences Paper 15 References Arnold, Ron. (n.d.) Undue Influence. Retrieved on 6 February 2009 from: http://www.undueinfluence.com/peta.htm ASPCA (2009) ASPCA Financial Statement, p. 41 Retrieved on February 6, 2009 from http://www.aspca.org/aboutus/legalinformation/2007annualreport.pdf Bergh, Henry. ASPCA. 1866. Retrieved on 5 February 2009 from <http://www.aspca.org/aboutus/abouttheaspca.html>. CliffNotes.com. How do lobbyists influence public policy decision? 7 Feb. 2009. Commonwealth of Virginia. 2008. CVC 2008 Charity Profile. Retrieved February 6, 2009 from http://www.cvc.vipnet.org/cgibin/cvcview.cgi?org_id=ma08114222859460100 Freedom, Center for Consumer. PETA Kills Animals. Retrieved on 6 February 2009 from http://www.petakillsanimals.com/ Frel, J. (2005) PETA: Whatever it takes. AlterNet. Retrieved on February 6, 2009 from http://www.alternet.org/story/26094/peta%3A_whatever_it_takes/ Leech, B. L., Baumgartner, F. R., Hojnacki, M., Berry, J. M. and Kimball, D. C., 20070412 "Does Money Buy Power? Interest Group Resources and Policy Outcomes" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, IL Online <PDF>. Retrieved on February 6, 2009 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p197119_index.html Longley, R. (2008). http://usgovinfo.about.com. PAC information. Retrieved Feb 2009 MerriamWebster (2009) Issue Network. Retrieved on January 31, 2009 from Public Policy Influences Paper 16 http://www.merria webster.com/spanish/issue%20network PETA (2009) Get Involved. Retrieved on January 31, 2009 from http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/virginia_glue_traps PETA (2009) Financial Report. Retrieved on February 5, 2009 from http://www.peta.org/about/numbers.asp PETA (2009) PETA’s History: Compassion in Action. Retrieved February 5, 2009 from http://www.peta.org/factsheet/files/FactsheetDisplay.asp?ID=107 PETA Action Center (2009) Lobbying. Retrieved on February 5, 2009 from: http://www.peta.org/actioncenter/AAactguide9.asp PETA Media Center (2009) Lobbying: Laying Down the Law. Retrieved February 5, 2009 from: http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=74 PETAKillsAnimal.com (2009) Exclusive: PETA killed more than 90% of the animals in its care in 2007. Downloaded from http://www.petakillsanimals.com/ The Economist (2008). The ground campaign: Obama's earnest army. Barack Obama's getout thevote machine is bigger, faster and smarter. Retrieved on February 6, 2009 from http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displayStory.cfm? story_id=12487473&source=features_box1 Wiley, J. (2009) Policy Research. Retrieved January 30, 2009 from http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119258705/abstract Public Policy Influences Paper 17
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