Thomas Frank has a new book (The Wrecking Crew), reviewed in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review. Its thesis is peculiar, especially in light of Frank’s oft-repeated claim that, since the mid-1990s, free-market idolaters have deviously managed to reduce the power of government over markets.
In his new book, Frank complains that during this time of alleged free-market ascendancy, the lobbying industry in Washington has blossomed and is inflicting great harm on Americans.
I agree that the lobbying industry on the Potomac swamp continues to grow and that its consequences are generally pernicious. But how in the world can lobbying continue to grow if – as Frank incessantly asserts – markets are increasingly freer? Freer markets mean less powerful governments. And governments whose powers are shrinking have fewer rather than more favors to sell to lobbyists.
If Frank’s claim that the role of markets has increased — implying that the power of government over markets has diminished — then lobbying would be not the boom industry he complains of, but, rather, a dying industry.