Lew’s Correct About Pervasive Corruption in Government

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In Lew’s videoed interview, he is totally correct in saying that corruption in government is pervasive. For a theory of why this is so, see Corruption, American Style. In that 2007 article, I wrote

“The state’s power is inseparable from the robberies it commits. The state’s robberies are inseparable from corruption. Systematic corruption necessarily accompanies government. It is the stuff of every history of every government.

“The theory behind these connections is simple. The government’s lawmaking power creates opportunities to rob legally. To rob legally is to pass a binding law or regulation that favors one group at the expense of another. To an interest group anxious to rob, a legislator’s favorable vote is an economic good. If the lawmaker sets the price of that vote at zero, then there is excess demand for it. The lawmakers therefore must raise the price of their vote in order to ration it among the robbers who are bidding for it. The price includes campaign contributions, jobs when they retire, favorable publicity, and other favors. Graft and bribery are only the most crude forms of the auction. The overall result is endemic corruption that cannot be eliminated. There is no such thing as a clean government.”

4:34 pm on February 16, 2014
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