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Friday, January 20, 2006

It's the power, stupid!

If the federal government limited itself to the few, enumerated powers delegated to it by the States via the Constitution, there would be no reason for lobbyists and special interests to shower our Representatives and Senators with big bucks because politicians would not be able to tilt the playing field one way or another. As a result, corruption in government would be very rare.

One of my favorite economists is Walter Williams of George Mason University in Virginia. Williams posts a weekly column on the GMU website, in which he comments on current events, often from an economics viewpoint. In his current column, Williams writes,

Why do corporations, unions and other interest groups fork over millions of dollars to the campaign coffers of politicians? Is it because these groups are extraordinarily civic-minded Americans who have a deep interest in congressmen doing their jobs of upholding and defending the U.S. Constitution? Might it be that these groups and their Washington-based lobby arms, numbering in the thousands, just love participating in the political process? Anyone answering in the affirmative to either question probably also believes that storks deliver babies and there really is an Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

A much better explanation for the millions going to the campaign coffers of Washington politicians lies in the awesome growth of government control over business, property, employment and other areas of our lives. Having such power, Washington politicians are in the position to grant favors. The greater their power to grant favors, the greater the value of being able to influence Congress, and there's no better influence than money

During the 1992 election campaign, James Carville famously said, in support of Clinton's candidacy, "It's the economy, stupid!" Well, when it comes down to talking about lobbyists, special interests, and Congress, It's the power, stupid! If the citizens would take care to place strict limits on the power they allow Congress to wield, corruption and scandal would be very rare indeed.


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