Sniffing Out Rent-Seekers

by Don Boudreaux on November 18, 2011

in Competition, Country Problems, Crony Capitalism, Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen, Wal-Mart

Here’s a letter to WTOP Radio in Washington, DC:

I was amused by the Occupy DC protester who, interviewed during today’s 8am hour, complained both about government handouts to banks and other businesses AND about the fact that Wal-Mart recently got permission to open six stores in DC.  This young man apparently believes that government refusing to prevent businesses from competing for consumer dollars is the same as government forcibly transferring money from consumers to businesses.  But he’s mistaken.

He’d do well to read Deirdre McCloskey’s 2010 book Bourgeois Dignity – or, if not the whole book, at least this apropos observation on page 260: “True, the oil executives who were granted numerous opportunities to chat up vice president Dick Cheney when he ran the U.S. government are going to earn more dollars than a local store owner complaining to her Chicago alderman that the opening of a WalMart will ruin her.  Yet there’s no difference in principle – or, adjusting for scale, in practice – between the two cases of lobbying.”

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

UPDATE: Mark Perry explains how Wal-Mart’s corporate greed continues to impoverish the 99%.

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{ 90 comments }

Don November 18, 2011 at 9:48 am

Don,

Of COURSE there’s a difference! Dick Chaney and Walmart are evil, but a Chicago alderman is most likely an angel, there’s no corruption there.

Jon Murphy November 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

Certainly not in Chicago.

gR November 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

Definitely not in Chicago. We Chicagoans know our politicians are corrupt, we just ask that they not rub our faces in it (and that they try not to go directly from city hall to jail)

kyle8 November 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Like Blago!

Greg Webb November 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

“He’d do well to read Deirdre McCloskey’s 2010 book Bourgeois Dignity”

Don, you assume too much. I’m sure that he protested for economic fairness for the snail darter by boycotting reading comprehension class.

Fred November 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

What I can’t figure out is why these people are mad at the corporations for getting bailed out by the government, as opposed to being mad at the government for bailing out the corporations.

And they want more government to fix the problem of the government handing out favors?

Really?

My head hurts.

Jon Murphy November 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

Because government are public servants, modest men and women who’s sole job is the make our world a better place.

Conversely, corporations are just faceless evil entities that would rape your grandmother if it meant a profit.

Ubiquitous November 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

Because government are public servants, modest men and women who’s sole job is the make our world a better place.

You’re right. It’s that old difference, again, between a Public Service assumption regarding government and politicians and a Public Choice one.

Bruce November 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

They might rape your grandmother if it meant increased profit, but they would never pay her as much as a man; even if it meant increased profit. (sarcasm intended)

Methinks1776 November 18, 2011 at 11:22 am

Our public servants are magical.

They are elected to office as critters of modest means and retire from public life multi-millionaires. Fortunes amassed, we are meant to believe, from the modest salaries of pious public servants.

Fred November 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

That’s the other thing I haven’t figured out.

Government is a zero sum game, so any fortune amassed by a public “servant” is indeed a fortune amassed through coercion.
However they get a pass.

It’s the ones who amass their fortunes through the market and growing the pie who are demonized.

I’d ask my commie dad but I don’t want to get accused of being an anarchist for not wanting the government to control the economy.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Government is a zero sum game.

Actually, its a negative sum game. There are transfer costs involved in the appropriation, collection and expenditure of funds.

Some are explicit (employee salaries) and some are implicit (avoidance behavior, competition with the productive-also called private-sector).

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

It has benefits as well. In theory, a proper government is the most valuable thing any producer can buy.

vikingvista November 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm

“get accused of being an anarchist for not wanting the government to control the economy”

You’re an anarchist just for not wanting innocent people to be bullied.

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Government only bullies bad people. Like Walmart. And Microsoft. Duh.

vikingvista November 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

“Government only bullies bad people.”

Exactly. Or anybody unscrupulous enough to peacefully trade or earn an income. I mean, they all have it coming.

Jeff Neal November 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

J Murphy,

So, your statement seems to be based on the employees of the government come from some secret pool of men and women who were born without any self-interest or any other agenda like, say, a thirst for power over other men?

Because they sometimes measure by some yardstick other than $$$ does not make government employees saints. Look at the results of the war on poverty, the war on drugs, etc. Have you ever wondered why the only people who live in government housing are the ones who have no other choice? Those places are more like slave quarters than homes. You moving in?

And, by the way, the ‘rape your grandmother’ line is juvenile. In all of human history, no evil has ever been perpetrated for the purpose of generating a profit – I’d grant that on occasion, a “profit” has been made as a result of evil, but for you to mis-use the word profit and confuse it with theft indicates that you are not thinking straight.

Jon Murphy November 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I was being sarcastic. Sorry about that, man.

We really need a way to show we are being sarcastic.

I nominate: *s* at the end of the post.

FOr example:

I love being oppressed by the evil Chinese *s*

vikingvista November 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Riiiight. Real good idea you have there.

/sarcasm

Jon Murphy November 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Again, sorry fir the misunderstanding. I thought my reputation here was solid enough I could get away with a statement like that and have people know I was being sarcastic.

Jeff Neal November 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

My mistake – but consider yourself warned. :)
(hate that little symbol, but seemed to fit this time.)

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Jon, I think it was clear.

Seth November 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I got it.

vikingvista November 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Same here. /sarcasm.

Just kidding. /sarcasm.

No wait… /sarcasm.

Damn. I think I have this affliction.

Greg Webb November 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

Don’t you have to work for a living? How can you afford to troll this board? You are not very bright, but then I shouldn’t talk.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

“What I can’t figure out is why these people are mad at the corporations for getting bailed out by the government, as opposed to being mad at the government for bailing out the corporations.”

Because statism is a religion, and government is the deity and the deity is omniscient and benevolent. In their faux drama, corporations are fallen angels.

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Yep

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Freedom is an illusory religion as well. It’s not possible in a violent world. And none of us would want to live in a world without people who find value in “altruism.”

A pure effort at sociopathic profit is unacceptable in some areas of commerce, and in all trade there exista a thin gray line between fraud and price discovery.

vikingvista November 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I disagree with every sentence. Has your moniker been hijacked?

Stone Glasgow November 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I don’t think a voluntary society is possible when computer guided nuclear weapons are needed to defend a nation. And I don’t think an expert doctor, who knows a little vitamin C will cure his patient’s scurvy, will avoid prescribing an endless stream of drugs if he is motivated by profit alone. His patient will never know about the fraud, and there is no evidence that it took place. The doctor can claim he didn’t know, and the patient is too ignorant of health and medicine to seek alternate opinions.

A mechanic has no financial motivation to tell his customer to stop riding the brake pedal. And his customer does not demand expert opinion regarding his failing brakes.

If a man is starving in the street, no one has a financial motivation to help him. And I don’t want to live in a world where no one bends to lend a hand because of an “altruistic” desire to help.

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“I don’t think a voluntary society is possible when computer guided nuclear weapons are needed to defend a nation.”

What is the magic of violence that you think makes this possible? Or are you saying that you personally would not voluntarily take any action to defend yourself against a nuclear attack? If that’s the case, why not? Are you suicidal, or do you believe that a nuclear attack simply will never happen?

“And I don’t think an expert doctor, who knows a little vitamin C will cure his patient’s scurvy, will avoid prescribing an endless stream of drugs if he is motivated by profit alone. His patient will never know about the fraud, and there is no evidence that it took place. The doctor can claim he didn’t know, and the patient is too ignorant of health and medicine to seek alternate opinions.”

Are you an expert doctor? You must be, because how else would you know that a little vitamin C will cure scurvy? Oh-oh. You’ve just let the cat out of the bag. Now everyone knows it.

“A mechanic has no financial motivation to tell his customer to stop riding the brake pedal. And his customer does not demand expert opinion regarding his failing brakes.”

So, you learned that little gem of advice from…beating out of someone? The government? I first learned it from my dad, and neither I, nor the government, had to beat it out of him.

“If a man is starving in the street, no one has a financial motivation to help him. And I don’t want to live in a world where no one bends to lend a hand because of an “altruistic” desire to help.”

No one? If you personally have no intention to ever help a man who is starving in the street, then why do you care to have the government force you to do it? You are saying both that you do care, and that you don’t care. It doesn’t make any sense.

I’m frankly surprised at the weakness of your examples, since you sometimes seem to understand some market dynamics. Particularly your doctor and mechanic exsmples which even anti-freemarket people often see the free market adequately dealing with. It is as though you don’t even attempt to consider how a free market will respond to these situations.

You know, unless you are talking about an exceedingly powerful supercentralized autocracy, even the government isn’t going to do any of those things unless substantial numbers of people WANT to do them. And markets are all about accomplishing what people WANT.

vikingvista November 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I am so sorry. All that junk was included on my clipboard, and was hidden in the edit box when I posted.

I really miss the edit button.

Stone Glasgow November 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Viking, it looks like we are nearly out of space. I would love to continue this conversation. Can you post an email or contact me through my blog?

I don’t think government is the answer to these problems, per se. Sorry if I implied that. My point is to show that the human desire to help others is something we are wise to encourage; to show that purely profit driven people with logical minds do not help starving men unless given a financial reason to do so, do not offer full disclosure to their customers, and may offer higher-priced, less effective treatments if they are more profitable. Customers cannot know what they are missing unless they are as equally skilled as the doctor. And there is no demand for a solution to this problem because customers are too ignorant of medicine to know what they are missing.

It isn’t that intervention and oversight is a viable solution. It’s that pure objectivism is less prefferable than empathetic men who want to see others do well, and tend to sacrafice some profits (in order to satisfy their own need to feel good) by helping others.

It’s wrong to assume that pure self interest is always best. It’s second best if the goal is to solve human needs. Government does not need to be part of this discussion, but liberals tend to want to force others to be altruistic. I think that’s silly, but stating that self-interested individuals motivated by greed alone is a worthy ideal for free societies is also wrong. A society filled with self interested men who aim to help themselves and gain pleasure by helping others would be the ideal. I used to think pure “greed” was best, but I can see many examples of places where markets fail to demand what will improve life because they are not educated or experienced enough to preduct the near future with reasonable accuracy.

Assuming that we are all equally entitled to free actions is correct, but assuming that we are all equally capable of making decisions that are good at achieving our personal goals is not. A baby walking towards a cliff won’t know he should stop. And there is no profit in stopping him.

vikingvista November 21, 2011 at 6:01 am

“purely profit driven people with logical minds do not help starving men unless given a financial reason to do so”

Are there such people? I’ve never met one. Have you? It sounds like you are confusing cartoons for real human beings.

“do not offer full disclosure to their customers, and may offer higher-priced, less effective treatments if they are more profitable.”

You do realize, that is precisely the problem profit-driven free markets solve, don’t you? Let me ask you this, what to you think a competitive free enterprise system *does* encourange with regard to customers and prices?

“Customers cannot know what they are missing unless they are as equally skilled as the doctor.”

That isn’t true, but even if it were, OTHER doctors CAN know. What else do you need?

“And there is no demand for a solution to this problem because customers are too ignorant of medicine to know what they are missing.”

You know what I would do if I were a physician competing for patients? I would tell patients what their other doctors were not. I know. This must be quite a revelation for you.

“It isn’t that intervention and oversight is a viable solution. It’s that pure objectivism is less prefferable than empathetic men who want to see others do well, and tend to sacrafice some profits (in order to satisfy their own need to feel good) by helping others.”

I think you mean “Objectivism”, not “objectivism”. They are quite different from one another, and from your characterization. I advocate neither, anyway.

“It’s wrong to assume that pure self interest is always best. It’s second best if the goal is to solve human needs.”

Then what is your reason for wanting “to solve human needs”? Because it would harm you? Irrational “self-interest” is not usually self-interest at all.

“stating that self-interested individuals motivated by greed alone is a worthy ideal for free societies is also wrong.”

I’ve read a lot. But I’ve not read anyone stating that. Probably because most people capable of writing have a better grasp of human nature. It seems you’ve constructed a straw man.

“A society filled with self interested men who aim to help themselves and gain pleasure by helping others would be the ideal.”

Ideal? I don’t ever expect or even look for ideals. I would just be happy if most people would stop be accepting and even defensive of institutionalized violence. If you want to become a monk, help yourself. Just keep the flagellation to yourself, please.

“I used to think pure “greed” was best,”

Why, in Thor’s name, would you ever think “pure greed” was “best”? You should be proud to admit that you are self-interested, and run fast from anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t be. Arguably, self-interest is literally inviolable. There are merely those who define it for themselves, and those who choose to let others define it or them. There are those who approach it rationally, and those who do not.

“but I can see many examples of places where markets fail to demand what will improve life because they are not educated or experienced enough to preduct the near future with reasonable accuracy.”

How does altruism give people that education or experience? And how is it you are so special as to be aware when everyone else (markets) are not?

“Assuming that we are all equally entitled to free actions is correct, but assuming that we are all equally capable of making decisions that are good at achieving our personal goals is not.”

There is no legitimate entitling authority, but I do advocate that no one break the peace–that is, leave people their freedom as long as they leave you yours. If you think someone will thank you for violently restricting their actions, just realize that the risk of doing so–including from me and others coming to his defense or endorsing his retribution–is and should be entirely yours.

“A baby walking towards a cliff won’t know he should stop. And there is no profit in stopping him.”

Of course, natural rights are only relevant to volitional communicating decision-making entities. So it doesn’t make sense to think that you are violating a baby’s rights by steering him away from a cliff, which makes this an improper example for your point. However, I suspect you will indeed find reward, commensurate with your effort, from people who do value the baby (since apparently you don’t), or possibly even from the baby himself when he is old enough to understand what transpired. The whole situation is an odd one anyway, since parents commonly value their babies to such a degree that they themselves will be there to keep them from crawling over cliffs.

Stone Glasgow November 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

“How does altruism give people that education or experience? And how is it you are so special as to be aware when everyone else (markets) are not?”

I am not special. And altruism does not make anyone educated or experienced.

Markets are simply free men exchanging with each other. If 99% of them are mentally retarded and 1% are sociopathically greedy, is it best to encourage the 1% to continue? I think it is best to encourage intelligent men to feel empathy along with their “greed.”

Stone Glasgow November 21, 2011 at 9:07 am

“stating that self-interested individuals motivated by greed alone is a worthy ideal for free societies is also wrong.”

I’ve read a lot. But I’ve not read anyone stating that. Probably because most people capable of writing have a better grasp of human nature. It seems you’ve constructed a straw man.

Really? When I was younger, Freidman, Sowell, and Rand had convinced me that no one could direct even the most seemingly simple tasks on their own, like making a pencil. I believed that men who would otherwise hate each other cooperated because of self interest (true), and extrapolated that my own self interest, even if it logically avoided helping others (barring financial gain) was the best possible philisophy for all world inhabitants.

Some of my most weakthy, capable, and intelligent friends continue to think this way. But they are far younger than me.

Stone Glasgow November 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

“I would just be happy if most people would stop be accepting and even defensive of institutionalized violence”

How would you plan to defend against an attack by a nation as powerful as the US, as a free man in a voluntary society? How is that possible?

Stone Glasgow November 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

“I’ve read a lot. But I’ve not read anyone stating that. Probably because most people capable of writing have a better grasp of human nature. It seems you’ve constructed a straw man.”

Yes, it is a straw man but I don’t intend to imply that anyone actually thinks in that way. I mean to draw attention to my previous belief that greed is best for mankind, and altruism is impossible and wrong. This is a feeling many people I personally know currently inculcate, and I mean to say that I feel it is fundamentally flawed. That is all and I’m guessing you agree.

Stone Glasgow November 21, 2011 at 9:23 am

“There is no legitimate entitling authority, but I do advocate that no one break the peace–that is, leave people their freedom as long as they leave you yours. If you think someone will thank you for violently restricting their actions, just realize that the risk of doing so–including from me and others coming to his defense or endorsing his retribution–is and should be entirely yours.”

Agreed!

I guess my statements are more theoretical than I thought. U agree with you when it comes to real action. I mean to point out that many men make idealistic errors in assuming that altruism by force is always wrong. Babies crawling towards fires are best forced to stop, and that is okay of others watching agree.

This leads to very dirty conclusions if there is not a clear line between a baby and a man.

Stone Glasgow November 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

“Of course, natural rights are only relevant to volitional communicating decision-making entities. So it doesn’t make sense to think that you are violating a baby’s rights by steering him away from a cliff, which makes this an improper example for your point. However, I suspect you will indeed find reward, commensurate with your effort, from people who do value the baby (since apparently you don’t), or possibly even from the baby himself when he is old enough to understand what transpired. The whole situation is an odd one anyway, since parents commonly value their babies to such a degree that they themselves will be there to keep them from crawling over cliffs.”

Agreed again. But who decides what a “volitional decision making entity” might be, in a world absent the force of democracy or the divine right of a king?

SaulOhio November 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

Is this more sarcasm?

rbd November 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

And the Code of Federal Regulations is their scripture.

Nuke Nemesis November 18, 2011 at 10:10 am

Just apply the word “justice” to any lame-brain cause and these guys are in!

Look, OWS isn’t about freedom, it’s about redistribution. It’s also important to note it’s other people’s money the OWS crowd wants to redistribute and many expect to be the recipients. If they had received a wad of cash when the bailouts occurred, they’d be happy as a hippie at Burning Man.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Look, OWS isn’t about freedom.

Sure it is. Freedom from want, decision, regret, all those things that bother to perturb anyone who values independence, maturity, and other attributes the perpetually prepubsecents aren’t aare of, let alone find valuable.

I wonder how many sit huddled around their IPADS watching downloads of “Twilight”, in complete obliviousness to the fact that their toys are courtesy of capitalism.

Jeff Neal November 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Nuke – while I understand your point, I think to use the word redistribution in connection with the OWS crowd is over generous. I think the more accurate word is THEFT. The fact that they keep bragging about being non-violent (i.e. they’re not carrying guns or knives” is a diversion. There’s barely a difference to the victim between armed robbery and robbery, is there?

vikingvista November 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

“a difference to the victim between armed robbery and robbery, is there?”

Redistribution is not “armed” robbery? I guarantee you, if you take violence out of the equation, I will not be paying any more taxes. Armed robbery is the revenue arm of any government.

Jeff Neal November 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

V – I think we agree.

vidyohs November 18, 2011 at 10:25 am

An attorney I worked with the other day said he saw a sign carried by a counter protester to the OWS people.

The sign said: Beware of stupid people in large groups.

I think that about covers it.

Greg Webb November 18, 2011 at 10:33 am

:)

Jon Murphy November 18, 2011 at 10:38 am

I was down at Occupy Boston a few weekends ago with a sign that said “I either want less corruption or more opportunities to participate in it.”

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Lol yep.

Seth November 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Who said anything about less corruption?

EG November 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

Beware of people in large groups, would have been sufficient.

Invisible Backhand November 18, 2011 at 11:07 am

You should always beware of stupid people, though large groups of stupid people are definitely more dangerous to your life, liberty, and property. One or a few stupid people can be dealt with.

Andrew_M_Garland November 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm

The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.

vidyohs November 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Hmmmm, ya coulda took that right off George Ballela’s profile.

Mesa Econoguy November 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm
Will November 18, 2011 at 11:06 am

Wow, Wal-Mart opening six stores in DC. That would be the most devastating thing to happen. Imagine all the thousands of employees who will be hired and the hundreds of millions of dollars being used by average and below average income people to afford cheap products.

GrizzlyAdam November 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Apparently today is bizarro world at Cafe Hayek.

Jon Murphy November 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Or International Sarcasm Day

GrizzlyAdam November 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Ah. I’ve yet to properly wake up this morning.

Invisible Backhand November 18, 2011 at 11:09 am

Distorting markets is always bad wink wink nudge nudge OK, only bad when the little people get in on it.

Ryan Vann November 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Say no more squire!

WhiskeyJim November 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

It is a wonder that small government advocates have a chance to be elected at all.

Consider that the Left begins with a structural voting advantage represented by a liberal press and an entrenched public service, along with most of the hierarchy of Fortune 100 companies and other interest groups who benefit from government largess.

Then add the effects of decades of Leftist education and the persistent Progressive drumbeat of virtually all of TV and Hollywood even when they are not trying to be explicitly political.

Now consider this young man, who is not angry because the controlling arm of the government is too heavy handed, but that his hand does not slap the right people.

Who does he think will control the Walmart if his fatherly government has its way? How does he connect Walmart with the hundreds of millions of Chinese that are now entering the middle class, who only a couple generations ago would have been garbage sorters and peasants?

The Marxian tautology can only survive in spite of all evidence with persistent and pervading influence.

vidyohs November 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm

“Consider that the Left begins with a structural voting advantage represented by a liberal press and an entrenched public service, along with most of the hierarchy of Fortune 100 companies and other interest groups who benefit from government largess.”

You forgot other sources of reliable demoncrat voting – graveyards, assisted living homes, Alzheimers care facilities, multiple ballots given by demoncrat polling supervisors to known demoncrat voters.

I would quibble only with one thing in your comment. Republicans have been known to reward friends with pork just as readily as Demoncrats.

Ryan Vann November 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Talk about easy targets. OWS bashing is already played out.

Methinks1776 November 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Oh, no no no. It’s totally not played out yet.

http://townhall.com/video/lol-occupy-segregated-before-eviction-of-course

Greg G November 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I have to admit that was really funny.

Greg Webb November 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

That is hilarious!

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Would you share you iPad 2?

“No, this is personal property. I’m against private property, not personal property.”

Seth November 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Could you tell how tense the guy’s face got with the thought of the “downtowners” touching his iPad with their grubby fingers?

Methinks1776 November 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Communism differentiates between personal and private property.

Meeting people who don’t know the difference is delightful because that means they’ve grown up in a normal country.

Stone Glasgow November 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I figured that might be the case. What’s the difference?

Methinks1776 November 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Personal property is property from which you can exclude others – e.g., a TV, clothing or furniture.

Private property is property which can be employed in the generation of income.

In a free country, no distinction is made. It’s all simply private property.

g-dub November 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thanks. I had no idea of the distinction.

kyle8 November 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm

No, mon iditot, Walmart bashing is what is old and stale.

Derek Simmons November 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

“True, the oil executives who were granted numerous opportunities to chat up vice president Dick Cheney when he ran the U.S. government are going to earn more dollars than a local store owner complaining to her Chicago alderman that the opening of a WalMart will ruin her. Yet there’s no difference in principle – or, adjusting for scale, in practice – between the two cases of lobbying.”

Well, yes, no difference in principle. But……in practice?
The local store owner will always have a lesser impact on an Alderman than does an entire industry on a Vice President. The “rent” an industry seeks in the cited case is paid by the entire country. The benefit inures to but one industry.

txslr November 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm

The point is that they are ALL lining up to get a shot at the spoils because the government in handing them out. There is a silly notion that if the oil industry weighs in with its perspective on a proposed national energy policy they are “rent-seeking”, but if the WWF or Greenpeace or the AFL-CIO do the same thing they are only looking out for the best interests of mankind. This, of course, is nonsense. When most people complain that big business gets access to policy makers through lobbyists they are really arguing in favor of THEIR lobbyist having that access exclusively. Just like the opposition to the Citizen’s United ruling – only my viewpoints are valid, bad corporation shouldn’t be allowed to speak, even to their shareholders.

The idea that there is some intervention that the government would adopt that would be unambiguously better for everybody if big business would just bug out is drivel and dangerous.

kyle8 November 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm

The answer is clear, shoot all of the lobbyists.

Greg Webb November 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

“… chat up vice president Dick Cheney when he ran the U.S. government …”

At least she admits that Cheney was a fascist dictator.

Greg G November 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Dick Cheney? Ancient history. Haven’t you heard Barak Obama is President. But, you better catch up soon because he won’t be for much longer. :)

rbd November 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Man I hope you’re right.

Mesa Econoguy November 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Yeah, the guy who replaced him is much better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toorZ2X8PyE&feature=player_embedded

Greg Webb November 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/science-panel-ready-extreme-weather-104156773.html

Maybe, Deirdre should have the bourgeois decency to admit the growing storm clouds caused by her failure to understand the world in which she inadequately postulates and pontificates.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Interesting, when the ACC cultists think they can attribute some bit of interesting weather to climate, the two are the same. When the weather doesn’t support the ACC template, then they are distinct and unrelated.

But then again, Penn State had Michael Mann before Jerry Sandusky.

Ryan Vann November 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I thought Deirdre was a dude?

Invisible Backhand November 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Yet there’s no difference in principle – or, adjusting for scale, in practice – between the two cases of lobbying.”

“This year, O’Reilly’s getting his ho, ho, ho’s by threatening to attack on the air any company that refuses to allow its employees to say “Merry Christmas.”

http://www.newshounds.us/2011/11/18/bill_oreilly_kicks_off_the_holiday_season_by_blackmailing_retailers_on_the_wrong_side_of_the_war_on_christmas.php#more

Will November 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

So…

Ryan Vann November 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Wonder if the assault on Christmas includes the hunting of Reindeer, and how PETA views this.

Invisible Backhand November 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Thank God for that!

Ooops. I mean, Thank Saul Alinsky for that!

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