When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. – P.J. O’Rourke
I’ve been thinking about what one might conclude about the above statement? Why do the rich and powerful always attempt to “buy” politicians? It’s because politicians currently have much power to make laws that interfere with a free market in favor of a special interest business or industry. It’s currently legal for congress to pass nearly anything it wants to relating to the economy. Do note that most of what we consider “corruption” is actually legal, and that’s why it can flourish. I speak of “corruption” in the broad sense, not just the narrow sense of explicit bribery.
So, what if we decreased the power of the government and outlawed most of its ability to interfere with the free market? Then we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the rich businessmen (or other interest groups, such as AARP or teacher’s unions) “buying” the politicians because the politicians wouldn’t have the power to give any special laws to the rich (and others) in the first place. The “bribes” and contributions, both direct and indirect, wouldn’t even be able to buy anything. The restriction on government power and its role in the economy seems to be the best way to rid the government of corruption because then the politicians are powerless to help the special interests through legislation. Focus on the incentives.
Yet, some believe that because the rich and powerful control everything, that we should give the government more power and money to supposedly fight against them. But, isn’t it practically a law of nature that the rich will always gravitate toward political power and heavily influence it? Giving government more power and money would only make the problem worse.