Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Two brief followups to "Already donated the limit"

First, I’d like to thank everyone for keeping the comments civil and constructive.

Second, I’d like to respond to Philll’s comment, “You sure do pick the strangest issues to make non-negotiable.”

I picked this because it struck me that the rules in question were being accepted and treated in the various discussions as fixed and unchanging, and no one was commenting that a primary architect of the laws was running.

Also, if you want to avoid bribes, either reduce the demand by reducing the scope and power of the government or of politicians. As long as the government is powerful, people will invest in getting what they want. Some fraction of this will go to rules avoidance, and some fraction to influence. I’d prefer that the rules avoidance be minimized, and I think transparency is the most promising approach there.

4 comments on "Two brief followups to "Already donated the limit""

  • Nicko says:

    ” As long as the government is powerful, people will invest in getting what they want.”
    This is true, but the only reason why the duration is limited to while the government is powerful is that when it is not, the rich can get what they want directly. Avoiding bribes may be the proximate goal but the ultimate goal is to have a government that serves the interests of all the people rather than those of an oligarchy. I agree that there is no substitute for transparency but allowing unfettered political donation is hardly a recipe for reducing corruption.

  • yoshi says:

    I am reminded of the phrase “Past performance does not guarantee future results.”
    The presidency is such a different beast – do you really think that you can see how someone would run their Presidency by their prior performance? Hillary may be one of the few (only?) times we can gauge how she would run her presidency (transparency will not be a hallmark that is a guarantee) but I really can’t see how Obama or McCain would run theirs. Both their records suggest a contempt for this thing we call freedom. But both of them have bright spots as well. And that is the problem isn’t? You are never going to get a candidate that fits your ideal.

  • PHB says:

    I am reminded by the Florida voters who voted for Nader because they couldn’t tell the difference between Al Gore and President Thumbscrews.
    There is a threat to freedom in America. It comes from the Trotskyite circle of Irving Kristol and Norman Podheretz. They may have repudiated Marx but they still use the tactics of Trotsky and Lenin and they still believe in transformational change by spreading world revolution.
    The only difference then and now is that they are part of a different elite. They almost destroyed Reagan’s Presidency with Iran-Contra and they have destroyed Bush mk II and probably the Republican party with it.

  • I step away from EC for a few months, and you’ve gone political on me?
    One thought that occurs from this debate is to hold constant the effects of $ donations (speech and corrupted decisions) and do the social welfare analysis: is more money “wasted” with or without McCain-Feingold.
    That is, assume that both PACs and direct donations are largely wasted money. This is not a horrible assumption: Company A has some idea that X% of decisions will break their way, and 1-X% won’t. Surely, Company A would rather not spend all the gov’t affairs $ if X remained constant.
    So which results on more companies throwing $ down the drain? It would be hard to control for the general increase in lobbying money over time, but I think my vote could be swayed if you told me that policy distributions would remain roughly where they are today, (far, far from ideal) but everyone stopped driving up the price of ad-buys (more negative externalities!) and prime rib in DC.

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