January 23rd, 2010at 07:05pm Posted by Eli
Dave Johnson on the implications of the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision:
The marketplace is now irrelevant – only company size matters. It is just more efficient to beat your competitors by buying legislation than it is by competing in the marketplace. When you can purchase $1 billion in tax breaks, subsidies, mandates, contracts, whatever by spending a few million on candidates/influence, etc. it just makes more sense to do so. The return on investment is just so much higher than building factories, spending on research, paying employees, and other tedious, time-consuming, capital-intensive work.
For some time companies have recognized that the rewards from lobbying outperform the rewards from competing in the marketplace, and this ruling just amplifies that. This 2006 New York Times article, Google Joins the Lobbying Herd, discussed how Google felt it had “no choice but to get into the arena” to start “spreading its lobbying dollars” around to politicians and quotes Lauren Maddox, a lobbyist for Google, saying the “policy process is an extension of the market battlefield.” This supreme court ruling just clinches this shift away from markets.
First American companies made money selling natural resources. Then they made money by selling manufactured goods. Now they make money selling intangible financial products. The next logical step in their evolution is to make money by paying the government to give it to them.