Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blaming the victim?

Several of my students in my first year Introduction to American Politics class, when asked to name the biggest problem our country's government has, described some variant of the influence of businesses and special interests on politics bought by their campaign contributions. But what if it is the other way around? What if it is not the businesses and special interests that are getting politicians to do their bidding but the politicians that are extracting money from businesses and the productive economy? Peter Schweizer argues in a NYT's oped that it is the political class that squeezes the private sector by proposing laws that would be detrimental to their interests and extorting campaign contributions from them in exchange for seeing that the laws are never passed.

Politician's Extortion Racket - NYTimes.com: "Take the maneuver known inside the Beltway as the “tollbooth.” Here the speaker of the House or a powerful committee chairperson will create a procedural obstruction or postponement on the eve of an important vote. Campaign contributions are then implicitly solicited. If the tribute offered by those in favor of the bill’s passage is too small (or if the money from opponents is sufficiently high), the bill is delayed and does not proceed down the legislative highway.
Republicans and Democrats are equal opportunity offenders here. The solution is not changing who runs government but reducing the scope and amount of discretion of government's power over our lives.

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