Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Auctioning off power

There is an interesting piece online about campaign finance, donations made to political parties and the huge budgets of some lobbying and activist groups.

Most people on the left interpret this as a sign of corrupt or immoral behaviour. Money influencing politics, buying power and buying votes.

But this paragraph hits the nail on the head:

The problem with increasing amounts of money spent on lobbying and politics isn't that Americans are spending more and more money to buy some influence in Washington; the problem is that we're giving Washington more and more influence to sell.

Nice as it may be to think otherwise, individuals, advocacy groups and corporations that give to political campaigns don't do so out of patriotism or civic pride. They donate because they hope to get something in return. It's not a gift, it's an investment.

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This is where campaign finance reformers get it wrong. They think that with enough restrictions and regulations, with enough benevolent overseers and fair-minded enforcers, they can stifle the corrupting influences in Washington.

This is na├»ve. Corruption and power go hand in hand; or, as Lord Acton famously warned, power corrupts — and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The increasing amounts of money spent on Washington are a direct reflection of the increasing amounts of power we've given Washington to auction off.

Big government, once again, is the problem.