Thursday, October 31, 2013

Political Extortion (Updated and bumped)

While the common belief is that corporations influence politicians through campaign contributions, Thomas Sowell explains that politicians also "extort" money from companies:

Many among the intelligentsia prefer to think of special interests as corrupting our dedicated public servants with campaign contributions. But Peter Schweizer's new book, "Extortion," shows what happens as the extorting of tribute by politicians in a position to do a lot of harm to businesses that do not pay them protection money. 
Campaign contributions are just one of the things that can be extorted. The number of spouses, children or other relatives or favorites of Congressional incumbents who get high-paying jobs in private businesses regulated by government can hardly be coincidental. 
When Al Gore was Vice President during the Clinton administration, he simply phoned various special interests and told them how much he wanted them to contribute.
He did not have to spell out the reasons why they should — or why they had better. They already knew from experience how the game is played.
If we are serious about countering this and other political games, at the country's expense in both money and confidence in our government, we have to oppose the creation of a permanent class of long-serving politicians in Washington.
 The problem I see is that we have to amend the Constitution to create a term limitation. If we are going to do that, we should also repeal the 16th Amendment.

Update (Oct. 31, 2013): Alejandro Chafuen writes at Forbes on a very similar issue:

The explosive growth in government regulations impose huge costs on productive activities. The arbitrary way in which they are enforced causes more insidious damage. It corrodes the rule of law and creates serious distrust on the merits of winners and losers in the market place. In addition, this “arbitrary” enforcement does not take place randomly. It is not the product of chance. It is the result of political machines that have perfected the art of extortion. 
... The governing principle of, “To my friends everything, to my enemies, the law,” which seems so prevalent in banana republics and totalitarian regimes, describes the selective use of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Complex laws, promoted by Democrats, such as the Dodd-Frank bill, and the Medicare reforms during the Bush administration, also get their fair share of criticism.  Obamacare is providing new examples of how the process works.  CNN has reported how health insurance executives are being told to be quiet or else fear retribution.
 Read the whole thing.

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