Corruption in Government

In a survey on our website, 77% of the repondents believed that corruption was better served by smaller, less regulatory government rather than more regulation. Government corruption is an on-going story in government, almost a tradition in second presidential terms (though Clinton's Congressional scandal was in 1992). A simple strategic analysis tells us that the problems grow worse given greater concentrations of power. The nexus of money and government regulation inhereing Indian tribal gambling created "a perfect storm" situation where corruption was perhaps inevitable . The Abramoff story may go through the elections, but the press has a problem reporting on it because it is difficult to slant as a Republican problem because it involves people like Patrick Kennedy, who defends his taking Abramoff's money because of his uncle, Robert Kennedy's support of Indian causes (really!) and Minority Leader Reid. Though smaller government is one perscription, it is more precise to talk about corruption from from concentrations of power. A larger government in one sense--having more House representatives per capital--would also decrease corruption because more repesentatives would dilute power to some degree. If we were represented proportionally according to what the founding fathers had envisioned in the constitution, the House of Representatives would be over three times larger (see this article). However, that size would make it impractical for them to meet in the current Capital, but you would think that that would be a relatively minor issue. Capping the size of the House in 1910, along with the numerous laws affecting campaign contributions and redistricting have been put in place primarily to protect incumbents seats and their power and privilege. Their elitist status is part and parcel to getting elected representives thinking they are entitled to special priviledges. However, the problems with corruption are as old as government, affecting our system of democracy, because of its lack of power, less than most other systems. Talk to people from the Middle East who live under a dictator or a ruling royal family about corruption. I was talking to a Jordanian the other day who lives here now and his view was that virtually all tax money in Jordan when to enrich government officials rather than provide for the public good as it goes here in the U.S. The more power that you concentrate in government and the more situations in which you involve government coercive power, the more incentive you have for people trying to influence legislators. At one time, the duty of legislators was to make laws, that is, to say what was legal and what was illegal. As long as that power is restricted to trying to prevent citizens from preying upon one another, the opportunities for corruption were limited largely to government spending for services, such as buying supplies for the military or other such large purchases, in the executive branch. Once you get the government heavily involved in redistributing wealth, regulating the economy, and other activities for “creating a level playing field,” the opportunities for abuse and corruption explode. They directly affect both legislators and judges who make this laws and enforce them as well as the executive that spends taxpayer money. Microsoft, for one, learned that every large successful company MUST get involved in influencing government decision-making in order to protect itself. Microsoft largely ignored the government until its competitors prevailed upon their legislators in California to get the Justice Department to attack it. The lesson was clear: successful organizations that do not lobby government and buy influence with legislators will get punished for their success. Hence, the current issue with Indian gambling. The Indians are the nexus for the interest of the government for several reasons. They are regulated only the Federal government, which deprives the states of lucrative tax revenues. Their gambling operations have been very successful and therefore a natural target for legal action. Finally, as a minority, they can claim status as a specially protected class. We have something like a perfect storm of corruption. There was too much money chasing too high a probability of government involvement.