August 25, 2006
No to "Reform," Yes to Downsizing
By James Wilson

Radley Balko of The Agitator posts his frustration with people who believe the cure to the ills of Washington is lobbying reform. Balko writes:

Do they not understand that lobbying is the inevitable, inescapeable product of a massive federal government? Thanks to the leviathan regulatory state, subsidies and corporate welfare, and the panoply of bad ideas that haven't yet made it into law, lawmakers and regulators put hundreds of billions of dollars at stake each year in Washington. If I were a shareholder, I'd be pissed if my company didn't invest millions (at least) on lobbying. And not just for rent seeking [i.e. special favors - jlw], but also to make sure that other companies don't seek rents at my company's expense.

So what can be done about this? Balko says,

Shrink the federal government, return power and money to the private sector, castrate Congress, and drown the regulatory state. The only reason Duke Cunningham could trade earmarks for cash is because Duke Cunningham had the power to distribute earmarks. And it's not just lawmakers. I'm certain it's only a matter of time before we see a rash of scandals involving regulators trading grants and favorable treatment for cash and bribes. They're were most of the power is migrating these days, and there's almost no oversight of what's going on in the labryth of well-funded executive agencies.

The left seems to buy into this rather naive view that we can have a behemoth federal government with its hands on 25 percent of the domestic product in this country, but that with enough well-intentioned lobbying reform bills, McCain-Feingolds, and oversight committees, the people who make up the federal government will stop being flawed human beings with self-interest and shortcomings, and turn into some pristine, altruistic public servant who always puts the "public good" (whatever that means) over himself.

No amount of "lobbying reform" is going to tame K Street. You tame K Street when you start taking money and power out of Washington.

Bravo to Radley Balko! We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

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