Saturday, June 30, 2007

Welfare for politicians

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on FENA, a proposal for public (i.e., taxpayer) financing of congressional and senatorial elections. Naturally, we argue that it's a terrible idea, for any number of reasons. I don't give money to politicians, by choice, because I think that as a class they are parasitic, part of the problem (which is not to say there aren't a few -- very few -- who are reasonably honorable given what they do for a living). As Buckminster Fuller once said, "The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun."

To use my tax money to support politicians, then, is to steal from me and give to people I don't approve. Not that government doesn't do that constantly anyway, but why expand dishonorable activities?

One argument for taxpayer financing is that it will get the nasty private special-interest money out of politics. Good luck. Trying to do it this way puts the cart before the horse. So long as government is big enough and powerful enough to decide whether certain businesses or even certain industries survive and thrive or wither and die, people in those industries will find ways to influence political decisions, and money is just one of the more efficient ways. If we really wanted special-interest money out of politics, we would have to reduce the size and scope of government so much that it wouldn't be worth anybody's while to buy influence because there would be so little there. How soon do you think that's gonna happen?

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