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    It’s a few days old, but Cato’s David Boaz posted at Real Clear Politics with clarity and point about the latest attempt by special-interest politicians to interfere with honest profit-seeking:

    Every company and industry wanted to be sure that it would be eligible for some of the money, and members of Congress worked to slip their constituents and campaign donors into the bill’s 451 pages. By the time it passed, it included special provisions for Puerto Rican rum producers, auto race tracks, and corporations operating in American Samoa (such as Starkist, which is headquartered in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district). It required that insurance companies pay for mental health benefits and granted tax benefits for victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and makers of children’s wooden arrows.

    Once the bill passed, the lobbying frenzy only accelerated. Banks and other companies focused their attention on the Treasury Department regulators. A Treasury spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that political influence played no role in the department’s decisions: “The decisions are made by a committee of officials at Treasury based on recommendations and data provided by the regulators through the application process.”

    That’s always the official answer. Put the government in charge of handing out money, and the decisions will be made by highly trained, public-spirited economists or lawyers, irrespective of political considerations.

    Even if regulators are as smart as Leonardo da Vinci and as incorruptible as Mother Teresa, they can never have as much knowledge as the decentralized, competitive market process, so planned economies and planned industries fall further and further behind free-market systems. But in reality, even if they’re smart, they’re not incorruptible. Political influence always comes into play. What we’re seeing with the bailout funds will also happen with the stimulus money.

    I get why people don’t like lobbyists, but it’s not hard to understand why they exist. When Congress wields power over Americans on all sorts of little local issues, it’s irrational for affected individuals and organizations not to try to leverage it in their favor. And then there’s the problem that no congresscritter can be an expert on everything from sheep farming to municipal opera outreach programs to traffic engineering, so decisions are inevitably made on the fly based on what sounds good (yet another opening for clever lobbyists). And we citizens who have better things to do must waste all sorts of time keeping an eye on Washington in order to stay even marginally informed about the shenanigans going on there.

    2 Responses to “刺激策”

    1. Mark Alger says:

      As I have said, if you want to get the money (read: corruption) out of politics, you have to get the power out of Washington.


    2. Hi, Mark. (I’m touched that you’re still stopping back, given how little posting has been going on here.) It always amazes me how many people don’t seem to think that’s an elementary point. People have always looked for ways to influence those governing them. When we like it, we call it “petitioning.” When we don’t, we use nastier names. But it’s all on the same, perfectly understandable continuum.

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