Rent-seeking (economics) is defined as competition-reducing activities by vested interests in a given sector. Conspiracies of fulltime staff or managerial class contribute as much as those of owners (see the cockroach sandwich metaphor) as they are paid also from rents.
- If a certain measure A is the case of the loss of one franc to each of a thousand persons, and of a thousand franc gain to one individual, the latter will expend a great deal of energy, whereas the former will resist weakly; and it is likely that, in the end, the person who is attempting to secure the thousand francs via A will be successful." - Vilfredo Pareto, cited on page 122 of Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom.
Sen further describes political influence in search of economic gain as the primary means of achieving such rents.
Adam Smith argued that vested interests tend to win due to their "better knowledge of their own interest" rather than their knowledge or concern with the public interest:
- The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposition to that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention." - Adam Smith, [Sen cites on page 123].
- There is no reason why vested interests must win if open arguments are permitted and promoted. Even as Pareto's famous argument illustrates, there may be a thousand people whose interests are a little hurt by the policy that heavily feeds the interest of one businessman, and once the picture is seized with clarity, there may be no dearth of a majority in opposition to such special pleading. This is an ideal field for more public discussion of the claims and counter-claims on the different sides, and in the test of open democracy, public interest may well have excellent prospects of winning against the spirited advocacy of the small coterie of vested interests... the remedy has to lie in more freedom - including that of public discussion and participatory political decisions. Once again, freedom of one kind (in this case, political freedom) can be seen as helping the realization of freedom of other kinds (particularly, that of economic openness). - Amarta Sen, Development as Freedom, page 123
Sen further calls for critical scrutiny of the role of markets and a rationale for them in service of freedom as such, as opposed to their existence (nor of property) as a right.
John Kenneth Galbraith's theory of money and power also derives from similar principles, focusing on the role of bankers in controlling creation and destruction of money.
Values however can create more enlightened "interest" groups. When combined with understanding of recruiting, cultural frames and gaps in uniform semantics, and a healthy ability to systematically deal with dissent (as a troll), these concepts enable effective teams built from values alone: doctrine:faction. This like the rent-seeking interest group defines itself as gaining from a small marginal loss to the interests of many others but a huge centralized gain to itself. For instance, emergence of NGOs and transparency efforts that focus on revealing lots of data without any specific accusation or doctrine required to motivate it, other than detecting some more situations where information and terminology control is being used to advance interests rather than values.
 tactics (actions) and patterns (descriptions) learned
- living ontology patterns
The rent-seeker and their particularly empowered core managerial class tend to be those who perceive economics and politics in a more disciplined, but cynical and self-interested way. They know exactly what undervalued capital assets are, and how to monopolize them. Resistance and formation of a dialogue, e.g. in participatory democracy, about how they have managed to block change, doesn't happen until the rent-seeking is itself obviously causing cognitive dissonance and corresponding failures in, e.g. values-based marketing.
- radical transparency and thus, in reaction to what is discovered:
- doctrine:namespace and systematic term manipulations by the self-interested clique:
- capital asset abstractions, especially:
- Parkinson's law and other exposure offulltime staff interests against the public
- global NGO