Bribery: Just a Symptom

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Walter Williams administers a column-length corrective  to the idea -- perpetuated by leftists -- that the "money in politics" we should do away with is in lobbying and campaign finance.

... Most concerns about money in politics tend to focus on relatively trivial matters such as the costs of running for office and interest-group influence on Congress and the White House. The bedrock problem is the awesome power of Congress. We Americans have asked, demanded and allowed congressmen to ignore their oaths of office and ignore the constitutional limitations imposed on them. The greater the congressional power to give handouts and grant favors and make special privileges the greater the value of being able to influence congressional decision-making. There's no better influence than money. [bold added]
Williams is correct: Bribery is ubiquitous because of pervasive, improper government power. However, Williams could have gone even further to identify the "money in politics" the left bemoans as a symptom, rather than the problem. It is easy to see how a contest for loot and favors spirals out of control when everyone is already corrupt, but what about those companies that would rather compete on merit? Ayn Rand once said of such companies:
[W]hat could the railroads do, except try to "own whole legislatures," if these legislatures held the power of life or death over them? What could the railroads do, except resort to bribery, if they wished to exist at all? Who was to blame and who was "corrupt"--the businessmen who had to pay "protection money" for the right to remain in business--or the politicians who held the power to sell that right?
Even for those who oppose the entitlement state, the power Williams describes -- and correctly calls to eliminate -- has essentially made bribery necessary.

-- CAV

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