Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting the Money out of Politics, Who...Whom?

It is pretty clear to me that there are two main beneficiaries to 'getting the money out of politics'

The first group is, of course, the mainstream press.  Obviously they can't be stopped by any such law from favoring, subtly if necessary, the candidates that they favor
The second group are entrenched incumbents.  Incumbency is a huge advantage

Since we, as reactionaries, are not fond of either group, it follows that we shouldn't be too enthusiastic about any campaign finance reform.  Frankly, I'm not at all surprised that money buys policies.  What I am surprised about is the fact that the policies are so damned cheap---politicians are the highest ROI investments going for big corporations.  Under more rational circumstances, we'd expect to see the costs of such bid up until the rate of return normalized with ordinary investments.  But politics is far far from the idealized free market.

Another key point is that any rules you write ARE going to be circumvented.  When regulating or legislating, you CAN NOT match the decision and action speed (the OODA loop if you're fond of such terminology) of your opposition---frankly not even if you're a tyrant with little respect for the rule of law.  Making rules in such fuzzy and vague areas simply advantages the glib and those inclined to game the system.  Sound familiar?

Here's one thing that we CAN do though.  Insist that every politicians investments be put into a blind vehicle prior to them taking office---say, an S&P index fund or the like.  The insider trading exemption Congress gets is obscene---does ANYONE really believe the rate of growth increase that Representatives get and Senators get more of is actually due to investment acumen?  No, it's due to (charitably) the fact that they have advance knowledge of how the rules of the game are to change, because they have a fair bit of control over such and (more likely) the fact that corporations can give them inside information as a means of currying favor. 

But any belief that politics can be separated from graft is folly.  As long as they regulate buying and selling, they'll be the first ones bought and sold.  The rules gaming weasels WILL find a way, no matter what roadblocks you set in their way.  And this is to say nothing of the fact that the rules WILL be selectively enforced against us---ever see the Fairness doctrine used against liberals?


spandrell said...

So it follows that we must make lobbying way more expensive.

One thing that bugs me is how we have come to accept that huge corporations are no problem for politics. The free market never happened in history because established kings couldn't fathom to have some entity with more money, i.e. power, than them. But now we think its natural that some corporation manages trillions, while the state is in debt.

Jehu said...

If a company is 'too big to fail', it is too big to be allowed to continue to exist. We should have broken up all the TBTF banks a long time ago, or alternatively declined to allow them to participate in FDIC or any other guarantee program. I favor Andrew Jackson's solution honestly.
The corporations that threaten politics the most honestly are the ones that own major media outlets (e.g., GE). The Microsofts of the world are comparatively small fry.
I suspect that the way to make lobbying more expensive is to make it far more transparent, so as to encourage more aggressive bidding wars.

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Jehu said...

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