Saturday, February 13, 2016

How to end political cronyism?

A recent Facebook exchange I had that started with a posting about the US Democratic Party and candidate Bernie Sanders holding opposing positions about a campaign finance law.

Politics has been corrupting money for too long. A separation of state and economy is way overdue.

The Constitution of the US specifically grants Congress the right and responsibility to regulate commerce, so a complete separation would go against the Constitutional intention.

What did the founders mean when they included this? Did the same men who so valiantly cherished individual freedom and fought to establish a country based on individual rights intend that the state would control and restrict citizens' productive activity in pursuit of their own happiness? Did they intend to deny citizens the very freedoms the declaration of independence so proudly identified? Or was their intent to empower the federal government to act to ensure interstate commerce was not restricted and citizens of the country were allowed to trade freely? Did they mean regulate in the sense of modern regulators, who seek only the political power to control and restrict others, or did they mean it in the older sense of ensuring a free flow of trade and removal of obstacles from the path of citizens pursuing happiness through productive activity? Which position is consistent with all we know of the founder's explicit and implicit philosophy?

Think of the process of evolution of cronyism. First, government makes a rule that favors some citizens at the expense of others who have violated no rights of others and are thus by definition innocent. The rule may have been prompted by lobbying or not, but it is clearly improper in a free society for government to violate rights when its sole purpose should be their protection.

Now that such a rule exists, it pays for people to lobby either to become part of the favored group or to change the law to instead favor them. If corruption has not already been introduced into the equation, it certainly is now. And so various groups band together to lobby for their interests, specifically for the privilege of being the group to whom the interest of others are sacrificed, the privilege of benefiting from the pain of others. Groups raise money, fund campaigns, try to shape public opinion, advertise and in many other ways increase the corruption. Before long, lobbying is an essential requirement to protect your business from lawmakers who can be swayed by competitors or those who simply want to stop you from producing, the nihilists.

Ask yourself if it is the money, the agreed upon medium of exchange of produced values, that is the essential here? If a man is phenomenally successful at creating things greatly valued by fellow citizens, who exchanges such values in a trade of mutual benefit and has not spent the produced wealth, but rather reinvested to produce ever greater value for fellow citizens, if such a man is wealthy, is the money he may spend corrupt? This money is a result of the exercise of the highest virtues a man may exercise: reason, purpose, self-esteem, productivity being primary among them. It is not the money but the purpose that may be corrupt. If he spends it on a vacation for himself and his family, he is acting most morally. If he spends it lobbying for political favors it is corrupt.

Now how does a society fully engaged in such activity correct the problem? Do they change laws on lobbying? Do they adjust campaign finance rules? Do they punish honest and productive businessmen who are trying to protect themselves from attacks by political powers? What is the correct response to a society constructed and fueled by political pull?

I submit that the only rational, and thus the only successful method of combating cronyism is to end the possibility of there being rewards of cronyism. To do so means the government must not have any levers of political power and favoritism to pull. It means the disempowerment of the cronies and an end to the potential for their very existence. It means a populace living under a system of political freedom where government exists to protect their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and has a legal system of objective laws and courts to deal with cases where citizens believe their rights have been violated. It means there is criminal law to deal with those who initiate physical force and civil law to deal with contract disputes. It means the implementation of the political-econonomic system known as laissez-faire capitalism, the system suited for homo sapiens, for man the rational being.

No comments:

Post a Comment