Thursday, June 19, 2014

Political "Access": A Product of the Mixed Economy

The New Jersey Star-Ledger recently editorialized over a seeming paradox: Many big political donors tend not to be "ideologically driven – like George Soros or the Koch brothers." Rather,

millions of dollars are donated to congressional campaigns each cycle by corporations and special-interest groups that simply want to buy access to the seats of power.

Citing a new study, the editors found that it is common for politicians of opposing ideologies to share the same donors. Leading this group of politicians are Democrat Senator Corey Booker and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, "an ideological odd couple who share 74 donors."

   Big donors aren’t necessarily writing checks to Booker and McConnell because they share their political views. Rather, they use campaign contributions to reserve a seat at the table – guaranteed access to all the senators they need.    [I]n the eyes of Big Money, it’s the position that matters, not the politics.

I left these comments:

". . . millions of dollars are donated to congressional campaigns each cycle by corporations and special-interest groups that simply want to buy access to the seats of power."

So? What does one expect in a mixed economy?

A mixed economy is a mixture of government controls and freedom. In America today, government controls are very heavily weaved throughout the economy. Today's politicians have enormous power to dispense economic favoritism on behalf of some at the expense of others, depending on which political factions hold "the seats of power" at any given time. Add to that the overwhelming power to tax and regulate, and you get today's "strange bedfellows."

This setup inevitably gives rise to special interests of two types; those seeking favors at others' expense, and the victims seeking to protect themselves—which often is one and the same special interest. With so much power over private affairs held in the hands of politicians, is it any wonder that those most affected, and that have the resources, want "a seat at the table?" How can anyone blame them?

It's true that the biggest victims are often those without the resources to gain access, or those who do have the resources but don't play the access game. But the answer is not to reign in "big money" in politics. That's treating the symptom by trashing the First Amendment. The last thing we need is to shield the politicians from the very people whose lives and business they hold so much power over.

The cause is "big government," and the more intrusive the government, the more special interest money is drawn into politics. It's almost comical to see the S-L editors constantly ring their hands over "Big Money," considering that their very own statist, interventionist ideology is behind the rise of the mixed economy. If you want Big Government, then you should accept its corollary, Big Money. If you don't like Big Money, then advocate for pro-individual rights, free market policies that reduce Big Government, thus reducing the incentive to "gain access." But keep your hands off of our First Amendment, without which a government "of the people, for the people, and by the people" is a joke. A Government without the right of citizens—ALL citizens—to gain access to politicians is not America: It is a dictatorship.

Related Reading:

A Few Thoughts on the SCOTUS Campaign Finance Ruling

No comments: