Sunday, January 15, 2006
George Will has a very good column that touches on the twin problems of pork and corruption. He notes, as Jonah Goldberg did a couple of days ago, that we really can't expect reforms to change much of what plagues DC, but there are a few small steps that can be taken to alleviate the corrupting influence of pork. The closer of the article, though, really nails it.
The public today is denouncing Congress for its promiscuous attention to the public's appetites for government favors. Although it is a principle of Washington discourse that no discouraging word shall ever be said about the American public, nevertheless:And here's what Jonah had to say. (Scroll down a bit to "Loose Rules".)
On the door of every congressional office into which favor-seekers troop, there should be a sign with these words from the late George Stigler, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from the University of Chicago: "I consider it a cowardly concession to a false extension of the idea of democracy to make sub rosa attacks on public tastes by denouncing the people who serve them. It is like blaming the waiters in restaurants for obesity."
Many people attacking Congress are also attacking themselves. And they are correct. Twice.
The real reform needed isn't more campaign finance restrictions and denying Congressmen the ability to get a free lunch or trip (though some of those measures might make sense in the short term). And the real reform needed isn't government financed elections -- as Daniel Schorr suggested this morning on NPR. The real reform required is to trim government back, back, back. The less government picks winners and losers and the less it involves itself in a trillion decisions it should not be party to, the fewer incentives there will be for lobbyists to give a rat's ass about Washington in the first place. I wrote about that here, if anyone's interested.