Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Campaign Finance, Abramoff, and Power

A couple years ago, Senators McCain and Feingold, along with Congressmen Shays and Meehan, told us that we could clean up the Federal Government once and for all, if we just passed their ridiculous "campaign finance" reform bill. It would get rid of the soft money, abolish all the influence peddling of high priced lobbyists and their corporate sponsors, and would make the system more accountable and accessible to average, ordinary people. To hear them talk, it would usher in a democratic paradise devoid of any improprieties, while freeing those vulnerable, angelic politicians from the spectre of those big, bad "special interests", and allowing them to get back to harmoniously serving the people like the altruistic Saints they are....

(I'll pause while you quit choking.)

Abramoff plea jolts lobbyists, lawmakers - Case brings new scrutiny to how D.C. operates

Hmmm.... One is almost tempted to think McCain and Co. were wrong. Foolishly wrong.

Many before me have said it, and I'm sure that many after me will say it, but:

The problem isn't the corruption....The problem is the power politicians have to create and destroy vast fortunes. When you ask that government act as a mechanism for wealth redistribution, it is inevitable that various special interests.... such as Abramoff's clients...will organize themselves, and spend large sums of money to do whatever it or get it share of the loot...or at the very least, fend off those who would cripple them.

Economists call this "rent seeking". It is an inherently destructive practice, as it diverts scarce resources from producing goods and services desired by society, toward influencing politicians in hopes of securing a share of wealth plundered from productive people.

Fewer productive resources used in production + More wealth confiscated from the productive sector = Less overall societal wealth.

Think: Parasite

Now might be a good time to recommend (re-)reading Frederic Bastiat's classic, The Law, if you haven't ever done so.

But I digress.

I'm sure, like all government failures, the response to this will be to pass another round of "campaign finance" laws to solve the "problem".....oh, wait a second....

"Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who with Weber's help effectively used issues of corruption to wrest control of the House from the Democrats in 1994, said the Abramoff scandal should trigger a broader review in Congress of the way politicians finance campaigns and deal with lobbyists.

"I'm going to talk at length about the need for us to rethink not just lobbying but the whole process of elections, incumbency protection and the way in which the system has evolved," he said. "Which is very different from the way the American system is supposed to be like. I think Abramoff is just part of a large pattern that has got to be rethought."

Well, Newt...Good luck with that. Let me know how that turns out.

Note to self....I wonder if by "American system", Gingrich is referencing the term coined by Henry Clay and the Whigs to define their national socialist economic agenda of unrestrained plunder. Perhaps Gingrich thinks that the way plunder is executed should be done in a more high-minded manner.... Stealing won't really be stealing if you can rationalize in a better way....doing it "for the children", for example.

In any event... What we need is smaller government. As long as we keep endorsing and voting for big government...this is what we'll get. Maybe someone should tell McCain, Gingrich, or any other would-be "campaign finance reformers" that the only way to clean up DC and make it accountable and accessible to the people is to make it smaller.

(A side note: Being that Abramoff is connected at the hip pocket with a number of influential GOPers...including one Tom will Sean"We-Conservatives-Believe-In-A-Welfare-State" Hannity rationalize this behavior? That'll be one to watch for.)


Anonymous jimmo the geek said...


Nice post!

Thanks for the link to Tom DiLorenzo's article, "Henry Clay: National Socialist", at Mises. DiLorenzo is a great thinker and writer. Readers of this blog might be interested in DiLorenzo's article archives at ( and at ( They might also enjoy reading his book, "The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War" (Three Rivers Press/Random House).

Jacob Hornberger has a nice post on the topic of "campaign finance" at today (1/5/2006). Here's an excerpt:

Is the answer to get “better people” into public office? Perish the thought. The answer is to restore the principles of liberty on which our nation was founded, which would include the repeal of the 16th-Amendment (income tax) and the entire welfare-regulatory corrupt monstrosity state it has brought into existence. Without the power and ability to dole out all that federal candy, lobbyists would dry up and congressmen would no longer have the means to bribe their constituents.

In other words, the solution does not lie in a different answer to the question, "who rules?". Instead, the solution lies in a different answer to the question, "which rules?".

2:54 PM  
Blogger Gene Callahan said...

"As long as we keep endorsing and voting for big government...this is what we'll get."

And if we vote for small government we'll get -- bug government anyway! (Think Reagan or the 1994 Congressional elections.)

5:39 AM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Gene! Thanks for stopping by... I'm a big fan of yours....

8:48 AM  

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