Ditto for George Soros. Schweizer follows the trail of the billionaire speculator’s donations to the Obama campaign, his visits to the White House in the administration’s first months, his public advocacy of a stimulus package, and finally his scores of curious investments in companies that ultimately scored stimulus funding. Throw Them All Out notes that Soros’s “investment decisions aligned remarkably closely with government grants and transfers. It would appear that one of the world’s smartest investors chose a strategy based on political decisions—whether he knew about the decisions in advance or just guessed extremely well.”
The lesson? The wealthier you are the wealthier you want to be. This applies to people as well as governments. The multifold benefits of big government to big business ensure that big money backs big expansions of the state. What money is there to be scammed, by politician or businessman, from a fiscally restrained government?
In the wake of the Solyndra scandal, and news that financial institutions secretly received exponentially more money from the Federal Reserve than they had from the enormous TARP bill, Throw Them All Out appears perfectly timed. 60 Minutes recognized this by recently featuring the book on its broadcast. In a nation where “fortunes rise and fall on policy decisions rather than market competition,” entrepreneurialism is perverted from pleasing a market of 311 million people to persuading just a handful of congressmen.
The growth of Washington has created a new class, what the author calls “the Government Rich.” This includes rags-to-riches pioneers of state entrepreneurialism such as Lyndon Johnson and riches-to-more-riches ostensibly market entrepreneurs such as General Electric’s Jeffrey Immelt. Tellingly, Schweizer points out that four decades ago less than 1 in 7 boards of Fortune 1000 companies contained members holding some government experience. Today, the figure is greater than 1 in 2. As the government has grown, private companies seeking a piece of that ever-expanding pie find it expedient to focus greater resources on siphoning money from Washington than on luring money from consumers. Schweizer concludes by offering suggestions to inhibit this crony capitalism—e.g., apply whistleblower laws to Congress and ban Congressmen from trading stock in companies that their committees oversee. But the $3.8 trillion elephant in the room is the size of the federal government. The bigger Washington gets, the bigger Washington corruption gets. Taming corruption requires taming the budget.
Retiring Representative Gonzalez says he wants to leave government to purse greener financial pastures. That’s like if Willie Sutton had said he robbed snow banks because that’s where the money’s kept.
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