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Sniffing Out Rent-Seekers

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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 [2] – 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% [3].

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