50% Of 'Retiring' Senators Now Become Lobbyists, Up From 3% A Few Decades Ago
from the the-influence-business-is-good-business dept
This is from a little while ago, but Hunter Walk alerts us to a buried gem in a NY Times’ book review of This Town by Mark Leibovich — a book about Washington DC that sounds just horrific (not the book itself, but the concept of wanting to know any more about DC). The review notes that Leibovich buried an interesting statistic deep in the book:
in 1974, 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists. “Now 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of congressmen do.” No one goes home anymore.
We’ve talked plenty about the corrupting influences of the revolving door between industries and the government. Not all lobbyists or lobbying is bad, per se, but it’s a symptom of the times we live in and the business of influence. It highlights the kind of “soft corruption” that Larry Lessig has been talking about for years, where it’s not out-and-out bribery, but merely the promise of a cushy job down the road that can have tremendous impact on the way the government functions.
And, with so much money flowing into lobbying efforts, we’re building a system where political entrepreneurship outweighs market entrepreneurship — and that’s exceptionally dangerous for our economy and our future. Political entrepreneurs — those who manipulate the system for their own benefit — tend to focus on locking up value, limiting competition and providing themselves with greater control over the market. Market entrepreneurs are more focused on innovation, expanding the pie and economic growth. Tragically, political entrepreneurs, via massive lobbying efforts, like to pretend they’re about market entrepreneurship, and we get a system of crony capitalism that actually does significant harm to the economy.
When nearly half of everyone in Congress who is retiring jumps into that business of helping political entrepreneurship, the system is completely broken.