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Goosing the Gander, and Taking a Gander at the Goose

Here’s a letter to the Baltimore Sun:

Upset with private people’s freedom to spend on political campaigns, Jack Kinstlinger’s premise is that money spent by citizens to influence the actions of politicians is a “pervasive and corrupting influence,” and that this corruption is greater the more is the money that citizens spend on these pursuits (Letters, Oct. 25).

Let’s grant the premise.

Is it not then also true that money spent by politicians to influence (and, in many cases, to dictate) the actions of citizens is a corrupting influence, and that this corruption is greater the more is the money that politicians spend on these pursuits?

Indeed, if money in politics is corrupting, and if this corruption is greater the greater is the amount of money in politics, then surely we should worry far more about the amount of money spent by politicians than about the amount spent on politicians.  The $6 billion that will be spent on this year’s presidential and congressional campaigns – that is, the amount spent in 2012 on politicians – is a vanishingly small 0.16 percent of the $3.7 trillion that will be spent in 2012 by politicians.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030


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