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Thoughts About Rent-Seeking

"The regime of public spending has at last drawn so many groups into the public arena in search of public dollars that it has paralyzed the political process and driven governments to the edge of bankruptcy. These groups are widely varied: trade associations, educational lobbies, public employee unions, government contractors, ideological and advocacy organizations, health-care providers, hospital associations that earn revenues from Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the like. These are what economists call rent-seeking groups because they are concerned with the distribution of resources rather than with the creation of wealth. They consume rather than create wealth. These groups are highly influential in the political process because they are willing to invest large sums in lobbying and election campaigns in order to protect their sources of income. While rent-seeking groups can be found in both political parties, the largest and most influential of them (at least on the spending side) have congregated within the Democratic Party. To expand on what was said earlier, one might describe the Democratic Party as a coalition of rent-seekers."

~ James Piereson

The above quote is from Mr. Piereson's essay, "Future tense, X: The fourth revolution," published by The New Criterion, which, by the way is an excellent read. According to Piereson, the first revolution was Jefferson's in 1800, then the Civil War, and the third, the New Deal. Now he predicts the fourth may be occurring with the last gasps of the so-called blue social model. Piereson is president of the William E. Simon Foundation.


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