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George Melloan reviews Jane Mayer’s Dark Money.  (gated)  Here are two slices:

Ms. Mayer mainly dislikes foes of big government. Her list of the rich and dangerous begins with figures whose heyday has passed, such as Richard Mellon Scaife and John M. Olin. For decades, their philanthropies supported conservative journals, scholars and think tanks, much as the Bradley Foundation does today, another organization that earns her contempt. But most of “Dark Money” is aimed at just two people, Charles and David Koch. The brothers, tied for fifth on the Forbes list with $41 billion apiece, are most notably backers of the Cato Institute, a Washington free-market think tank. They also host public-policy seminars, fund political groups and back candidates either directly or by way of the Koch Industries political action committee. Ms. Mayer argues that they and their “ultra-wealthy allies on the right” have become the “single most effective special interest group in the country.” The Kochs might answer, “We should be so lucky.”


Ms. Mayer might herself benefit from an economics course. She writes that Richard Nixon imposed economic controls on oil and gas in 1971 to “address the energy crisis.” The Nixon price controls helped to cause the energy crisis. She chides the Kochs for opposing President Obama, noting that their fortunes have tripled since he came to power. Ms. Mayer doesn’t seem to understand that the fortunes of wealthy people on both left and right were ballooned mainly by the asset inflation engineered by the Federal Reserve. Small savers have been the victims.

On the same general topic is Jonah Goldberg.  A slice:

Democrats don’t like Citizens United because they think it might blunt their advantages. According to OpenSecrets.org, of the top five organizations — i.e., unions and corporate PACs — that give to federal candidates, all (mostly public unions) give 97 percent to 100 percent of their donations to liberals and Democrats. Of the top ten, eight give almost exclusively to the Left. Of the top 25, 18 donate disproportionately to the Left.

By the way, Koch Industries is No. 49 on the list, and the National Rifle Association is No. 74.

One can certainly understand why average citizens find this “billionaire class” stuff plausible. Government certainly has become more and more unresponsive and aloof (and public-sector unions are a big reason why). And it is obviously true that big money — variously defined — plays a significant role in our politics.

But you know what plays a bigger role? Politics.

Iain Murray introduces Obama and his ilk to Coase, Hayek, and Schumpeter.

Sheldon Richman makes a strong case that among all current candidates for the presidency of the executive branch of the national government in the United States, the one least qualified to hold such power is Hillary Clinton.

George Leef weighs in on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

I miss the disappearing incandescent lightbulb.  Might we rationally hope for its return?


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