The more federal regulations and programs there are, the more winners and losers are made by Congress’s decisions; more federal regulations and programs means more power coursing through Washington, D.C., and money always flows to power as people seek to gain advantage over their competitors, or seek to prevent Congress from ruining their ability to make a good living.
Even if Congress makes rules to prevent its members from directly receiving gifts or donations from people or businesses, folks whose livelihoods hang in the balance will always find a way to nudge the rules of the game to their favor. And Congressmen and Congresswomen will always find a way to let them.
Case in point is the phenomenon of representatives and senators receiving kickbacks (of course they’re never called that) to charities that they have founded, and most of which bear their names. The New York Times recently “found at least two dozen charities that lawmakers or their families helped create or run that routinely accept donations from businesses seeking to influence them.”
Essentially, these charities allow the politicians involved to be constantly campaigning – keeping their name before the public in conjunction with charitable giving and contributions to the voting community – without triggering any campaign finance laws or ethics violations.
This might lead some to suggest that there need to be stronger ethics rules in Congress to prevent such obvious runs around the rules, but I disagree. Money finds power. Period. If you prohibit this type of behavior, another one will crop up; it’ll be a game of whack-a-mole trying to keep up with people’s endless ingenuity when it comes to greasing the skids for their own gain. Therefore, the only way to prevent this kind of thing, or something just like it, is to vote for people who want to remove the federal government from more aspects of our lives, rather than increasing its power.
The less power Congress has to ruin businesses or make them stinking rich, the less we’ll have to worry about the ominous sound of lobbyists’ $800 shoes clicking down the hallowed halls of House and Senate office buildings.