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George Will’s Prager University video on the regulation of political speech is one of the best the site has ever produced: it’s insightful, slick, and hard-hitting without being explicitly partisan. Watch the whole thing and post it on Facebook; it might get someone thinking. Towards the end, however, Will makes a point in passing that deserved more attention:
The only constitutional way to reduce the amount of money invested in politics is to reduce the role of politics in the distribution of money. If government were not so big, if it were not so busy allocating wealth and opportunity to the politically well-connected, then politics would be less important in our lives, and less money would be spent on it.
A few years ago over drinks, a friend of mine made much the same point. Large businesses, he pointed out, are famously ruthless and obsessed with the bottom line, willing to do anything to maximize their growth and profits. Similarly, lobbyists and lawyers are famously expensive, charging fortunes for political access and the ability to influence laws and regulations.
Given these two facts, what does it tell you that big corporations believe millions of their dollars are better spent manipulating legal and regulatory codes than on making a better product, increasing their sales, or investing? Moreover, what does it tell you that small and medium-sized corporations are often more jealous of their larger competitors’ ability to purchase political access than they are of the benefits of having an established brand and economies of scale?
If you think there’s too much corporate money in politics, ask yourself why corporations think lobbying and influence peddling are such smart investments.