Public Choice? It's the economic analysis of the choices of public servants - the politicians and bureaucrats who are elected to serve the country. Who do they ensure gets the most benefit from their efforts, who do they serve first?
The 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Dr. James Buchanan for proving the Public Choice theorem. Professor Buchanan demonstrated that both politicians and bureaucrats have their own selfish interests as their most important #1 priority - just like the rest of the population.
But don't people suddenly become selfless guardians of the public interest the moment they're appointed or elected? No!
Dr. Buchanan disproved the curious notion - promoted by politicians and government bureaucrats alike - that people suddenly change overnight to become unselfish public servants as soon as they're appointed or elected. Yet they all fight so tenaciously to keep their positions. And people rarely ask the crucial question: Why?
But how come? Don't politicians and bureaucrats serve the public faithfully? No. They actually enrich themselves first, as do average citizens. But the rest of the population has other people and other businesses competing with them to keep their prices honest and their service up to scratch. But when the government gets involved, they ban all competition.
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All the wealth in Washington is, to put it politely, unearned wealth. The money overflowing the pockets of the capital's overpaid bureaucrats, lobbyists, politicians, interest groups, influence peddlers, crony capitalists, contractors, and other insiders all comes, eventually, from you. Unlike other recoveries, it hasn't be used to create real jobs and get you back to work.
"Avalanche of Cash" report from the Washington Post
"The avalanche of cash that made Washington rich in the last decade has transformed the culture of a once staid capital and created a new wave of well-heeled insiders. The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. …They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom."
Corruption has Spread
It also seems that the corruption generated by the coercive power of government is spreading.
"Corporate America learned that lobbying was one of the most surefire ways of bolstering its bottom line… Companies spent about $3.5 billion annually on lobbying at the end of the last decade, a nearly 90 percent increase from 1999 after adjusting for inflation… Legal services also boomed, fueled by the growing complexities of federal business regulations. The number of lawyers in the D.C. metro area increased... nearly twice as fast as the growth rate nationwide. And those lawyers have the highest mean salaries in the country."
A region that produces virtually nothing contributing to the benefit of American citizens in general lives fat and happy because of the taxes and powers of a corrupt government.
Buying Votes with Other People's Money
When your income depends on satisfying the person in front of you, you're motivated to give good service. The more remote the source of your income from that customer, the worse the service. So government bureaucrats generally don't care because there's little reward - or penalty - for service. Yet incompetent and even corrupt bureaucrats are amazingly difficult to fire. Given their perverse incentives, corruption is inevitable.
Yet politicians pretend that more laws and more government is the solution for every problem. All too often, the law of unintended consequences creates yet more problems. But do politicians back off and repeal the cause? No.
The Gramm-Rudman Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Acts of 1985 and 1987 were designed as "the first binding constraint imposed on federal spending, and its spending caps have become part of every subsequent U.S. budget." It was effective in producing the first balanced federal budget in many years. But politicians dislike constraints on their ability to buy people's votes with other people's money so it was soon discarded.
Food for Thought
"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
- Lord Acton, 1834-1902, English historian, politician, and writer, lover of liberty, staunch supporter of States Rights against a centralized government