Wednesday, December 11, 2002

A letter in the WSJ yesterday (online for subscribers only) made me think of the campaign finance discussions we've had. "What is it about obvious that politicians do not understand" regarding CFR, the writer, one Mr. Haeberlen, asks, rightly observing that the attempt to stop money from getting into campaigns is like trying to stop water from flowing downhill. Like water, it finds its way around obstacles, through cracks and holes, right to where it goes naturally anyway. His solution? Supply-side theory. In his words:
The obvious answer [to the problem of money "buying" politicians] is the control of the power to deliver such services to willing buyers. One example is in Texas, which has a relatively weak governmental structure and a balanced budget requirement. That would be a start. I can hear the screams now from the politicians about limiting their freedoms. My heart bleeds. Any organization with an unlimited checking account and no accountability for unfunded mandates would get out of fiscal control in a hurry.
Talk about cutting the Gordian knot. Even if all the arguments in favor of reform are true, the problem lies not in the fact that money buys politicians, but in the fact that the politicians are selling themselves in the first place, and that they have the power to deliver. If Mr. Haeberlen sounds a bit like Phil Gramm, his signature line indicates he lives in ... Houston, Texas. Must be something in the water.

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