Human Events Blog

The Big Government rules racket

Politico brings us an eye-opening news bulletin from the world of high finance:

FRANK STAFFERS LAUNCH FIRM: Two veteran staffers of former Rep. Barney Frank have launched a consulting firm, Giesta Racalto Solutions,with offices in Alexandria, Va., and New Bedford, Mass. Maria Giesta, former chief of staff and staff director to Frank, and Joe Racalto, former senior policy adviser to the Massachusetts Democrat, are opening the shop, which will focus on New England. The firm will specialize in municipalities, education and regulatory compliance for legislation like Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act. And they are already looking to expand with an eye toward having a New York City presence. Stay tuned.

So staffers who worked for Barney Frank are going to cash in by hiring themselves out to help businesses comply with the incredibly complex rules their boss promulgated.  Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner treats himself to a well-deserved I-told-you-so, because he predicted this a year and a half ago:

It may not prevent another bailout or protect consumers from dangerous financial products, but the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law — now one year old — has already benefited one group of people: the government officials who wrote and implemented the law before cashing out as lobbyists or consultants for Wall Street, hedge funds and big banks.

Carney also recalls how one of the authors of ObamaCare went on to launch a consulting firm that would trade on his expertise, to desperate businesses seeking help with ObamaCare compliance.

We are often enjoined to loathe “lobbyists” and “special interests,” although of course politicians never use those terms to describe their own supporters and donors.  We’re told to be on guard against greedy souls who would purchase political influence to bend the rules for their own benefit.  Fair enough, although the one and only true “solution” to that problem is to make government smaller, so that political influence becomes less valuable.

But we must also remember that government itself is a special interest.  It is filled with people who plan to cash out on their power and influence.  The people who write the rules often harbor very direct strategies for profiting from them.  And the government as a whole is keenly interested in agitating for its own expansion.

How is political corruption defined?  We think in terms of dishonesty, fraudulent paperwork, shadowy transactions, and criminal prosecutions.  But everything the political sphere touches can become corrupted, even if no one involved is committing any “crimes.”  At what point does the noble right to lobby the government for the redress of grievance become the sinister influence of lobbyists and special interests?

Everything described by Politico and the Washington Examiner appears perfectly legal and above board.  No one is behaving in a dishonest manner.  But the situation is still corrupt.  In the end, isn’t corruption really all about political connections perverting free enterprise?  When that’s done in a clumsy manner, it’s a crime; when done with a bit of elegance, it’s ideology.

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