Tue, 10 May 2005

Taking the money out of politics

Many well-intentioned people think that it's possible to remove the influence of money from politics. A coin has two faces: on one face you have the influence of money on politics, and on the other face you have the influence of politics on money. What would a coin with only one side look like? How can politics possibly control companies without companies wanting to control politics?

As long as the people give politicians the power to control companies, companies are going to try to control politicians. If the people don't give politicians that power, politicians have no influence to peddle. Without influence to peddle, companies have two choices: waste money buying politicians who can't help them, or spend the money competing harder with other companies.

There is one and only one way to successfully take money out of politics: to take politics out of money. As long as corrupt politicians have influence to sell, there will be corrupt businessmen to buy it. The problem here is not corrupt politicians or corrupt businessmen. The problem is that the people have chosen to give up their market power over corporations. They have turned that power into political power and concentrated it in politicians. This is wrong. Until this is fixed, no other change will help matters. If you have a screen door on your submarine, running your pump faster or slower, or diving higher or lower will not help you.

In order to take the politics out of money, you need a general agreement in society that market regulation of companies is sufficient. We don't have that now. Many people think that corporations are evil and need to be controlled. They do, but the profit motive is sufficient. Let's take an example from the initial URL. He lays the blame for obese americans on cheap high-calorie food, and says that corporations sell this food because it's profitable. This is all true. It's only profitable because people want to buy it. He doesn't say so, but I think that he is convinced that people are willing to put up with obesity to get cheap food. This seems like a ridiculous notion given the number of people seeking to lose weight. Instead of railing against corporations, he needs to start his own corporation to sell food that tastes good, and uses the more expensive ingredients that won't make you fat.

Only in America could you find a market for low-fat cheese.

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