"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Political lobbying and the growth of government

Joe Klein of Time magazine has a new book out, called Politics Lost, with the striking subtitle "How politics was trivialised by people who think you're stupid." George Will today has a piece commenting on the book. I probably wouldn't do justice to Will's piece by summarising it, so I won't go into any detail here. Klein makes some familiar points about how (American) politics has become "dumbed down" and how a system of lobbying and influence-peddling has encrusted onto the mechanics of modern politics. That side of politics was illustrated with the allegations against Jack Abramoff recently. We saw it at work in this country when the cafe bar proposals went by the wayside. One thought I would leave you with is Will's argument that "big government begets bad politics". In other words, if government hadn't expanded so much since the 1960's there would have been no opportunity for the emergence of such widespread influence-peddling and lobbying. Of course a causal relationship doesn't excuse polticians acting in ways that benefit particular interest groups rather than the society in general. But it's a connection worth pondering nonetheless.


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