For most of its history, the Export-Import Bank has directed most of its benefits to a handful of large, politically connected firms. In other words, its main function is to dispense corporate welfare. With more $37 billion in business in 2013 and a total portfolio near its statutory limit of $140 billion, Ex-Im is one of the federal government’s largest corporate welfare programs. President Obama wants to raise the cap to $160 billion with this year’s reauthorization.
The problem is not just the money—roughly $100 billion a year for corporate welfare, for instance. Also disturbing is the message government is sending to all Americans. The way to rise and prosper, to expand one’s business and increase one’s income, is to seize control of the State to loot your neighbors. Gaining wealth by working hard is, well, hard work. It is so much better to hire a lobbyist and whisper sweet nothings in legislators’ ears. No heavy lifting there.
Moreover, the illusion of consent cannot hide the dubious moral principles these players rely upon. If government has as purpose, it is to advance particularly important and genuinely collective interests which cannot be achieved privately. Taking people’s earnings for anything less differs little from theft. Sadly, most of today’s vast transfer state looks like a complex of stolen goods.