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A Multiple-Choice Quiz

Here’s a modified version of a letter that I sent earlier this morning to USA Today:

You quote Robert Reich’s lament about U.S. politics: “Washington is so overrun by lobbyists representing moneyed interests that it’s become almost impossible to make policy in the open…. When it comes to the long-term deficit, Congress is incapable of acting.  But the answer isn’t to give up on democracy…. The real answer is to recommit ourselves to cleaning up democracy” (“Et cetera,” Feb. 3).

Nonsense.  As long as politics is big-time into money, money will be big-time into politics.

Imagine a raffle with the winning ticket paying its holder $1.00.  People will not spend much for the opportunity to win this sum.  No spending restrictions or exhortations about ethics are necessary to keep spending down.

Now suppose that the winning raffle ticket will pay its holder $1,000,000,000.  People will spend lavishly for the opportunity to win this humongous bounty.  No spending restrictions or sermonizing about the evils of buying a chance at access to a huge sum of money will prevent such spending.  People will find ways around whatever barriers are erected.

If you doubt this fact, imagine that you know that you hold the winning billion-dollar raffle ticket but, because of your family name, are unable personally to redeem it.  Will you simply give that ticket to some lucky passerby?  Will you transfer it to someone who impresses you with a beautiful speech?  Will you be content to sell it for, say, $100?  Or will you find some way to sell it for cash and resources together worth $1 billion to you?

You know the correct answer.

Donald J. Boudreaux