January 06, 2005

Rent Seeking

One of the most powerful tools available to those trying to bring the federal government budget in balance were the debt clock billboards put up around the country by J. Peter Grace after he headed up the Grace Commission looking into such matters for President Reagan. Once everyday people could see the national debt ticking up and their share of it, political will coalesced to take care of the problem in the '90s.

Today, one of the big hidden problems facing us is rent seeking. We've got lots of people extracting money to shift government power to favor their own private interests and everybody has to hire their own lobbyists to ensure that at least they're not put out of business by such action even if they don't want to play the game of killing the competition via government action.

This costs us all in higher prices, more expensive regulation, and general confusion as the law tilts first this way and then that as various lobbyists succeed in moving the law to favor their clients. This all erodes the rule of law which requires, above all, predictability so you can plan ahead and obey the law.

We're in desperate need of a leading figure to tote up the costs and make a new set of billboards.

Posted by TMLutas at January 6, 2005 11:03 AM