Not One Penny
During the recent debate, Trump accused Biden of taking money from Russia. Biden proclaimed that he had never taken “one penny” from a foreign entity. That statement may very well be true on its face, but it is profoundly misleading. A number of members of Biden’s family have traded on his name to make money, both in the lobbying swamps of DC and abroad. See Profiles in Corruption by Peter Schweizer for details. He is apparently in possession of the contents of Hunter’s laptop and is working on a new book about it.
I am not working up a screed here to convince you to vote for Trump. I want to talk about the culture that breeds the corruption inherent in out system of government. Government at all levels occupies about 35% of the economy. The amount of money flying around is staggering. The regulatory reach runs to millions of pages. Businesses and individuals try to cope with this reality by buying protection and shaping the rules for their benefit. That is why they send money to people who purport to sell influence and try to ingratiate themselves with people they believe have political influence. There are 30,000 registered lobbyists in DC, thousands of influence peddling lawyers and accountants who don’t have to register, and smaller versions of the gaggle in every state capital and major city.
Large businesses and influence seeking groups of all kinds fuel the system. They have money to pay for protection and staffs of experts to shape the system and work it. That creates barriers to entry and allows skillful operators to obtain policy options they desire and businesses to enjoy monopoly or oligopoly profits. One astute way to play the stock market is to invest in companies that have the biggest lobbying budgets. Take a guess as to why Amazon opened a second headquarters next to DC.
The problem with government running large portions of the economy is that it fails the honesty/productivity test. In most situations, the best results emerge from systems characterized by transparency and competition. Government entities can obfuscate or bury failure/corruption. The responses to Freedom of Information requests usually arrive with major redactions (you know . . . national security considerations). Government workers are under no competitive pressure. Payday comes every two weeks no matter what and retirement benefits are guaranteed. Until it all falls apart, no government entity ends up in front of a bankruptcy judge.
The problem with public perception is a confusion between troughs and pigs. Pigs are always with us. They are gluttons. When the government creates a trough, the pigs show up. When the situation gets so bad as to come to the public’s attention, we have a jihad against pigs. LOCK ’EM UP! Just another form of obfuscation. The real solution is to severely limit the number of troughs. Let government do those things it is most competent to do (or cannot be replicated by the private sector) and do so in the most transparent fashion possible. That would force the Biden family to make an honest living.