The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
Ever since I started writing about what is happening in the world around me, my primary theme has been that the root cancer at the core of the U.S., and indeed global economy, is cronyism and an absence of the rule of law when it comes to oligarchs. In the U.S., this cronyism is best described as an insidious relationship between large multi-national corporations and big government to funnel all of the wealth and resources of the nation to themselves at the expense of everyone else. In a genuine free market defined by heightened competition and governed by an equal application of the rule of law to all, the 0.1% does not aggregate all of a nation’s wealth. This sort of thing only happens in crony capitalism, which is basically nothing more than complete and total insider deals to aggregate newly created money into the hands of the few.
The following profile of Washington D.C.’s so-called “boom” from theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch pretty much tells you all you need to know. While I think the tone of the article is absurd considering this is no “economic boom,” but merely parasitic wealth extraction on a unprecedented scale, it is still quite telling. It is no coincidence that as D.C. has grown wealthier, the nation has become much, much poorer. Key excerpts below:
The avalanche of cash that made Washington rich in the last decade has transformed the culture of a once staid capital and created a new wave of well-heeled insiders.
The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. They are the entrepreneurs attracted to the capital by its aura of prosperity and its super-educated workforce. They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom.
At the same time, big companies realized that a few million spent shaping legislation could produce windfall profits. They nearly doubled the cash they poured into the capital.
Sorry these aren’t “entrepreneurs,” they are parasitic opportunists.
At Cafe Joe, a greasy spoon near the National Security Agency in suburban Maryland, software engineers with top-secret clearances merely have to look at the place mats under their fried eggs to find federal contractors trying to entice them away from their government jobs with six-figure salaries and stock options. The place-mat ads cost $250 a week. They are sold out through 2014.
During the past decade, the region added 21,000 households in the nation’s top 1 percent. No other metro area came close.
Two forces triggered the boom.
The share of money the government spent on weapons and other hardware shrank as service contracts nearly tripled in value. At the peak in 2010, companies based in Rep. James Moran’s congressional district in Northern Virginia reaped $43 billion in federal contracts — roughly as much as the state of Texas.
Back in 2000, the company spent a mere $260,000 lobbying Congress, federal records show. Its lobbyists mostly talked to lawmakers about health care: medical manufacturing issues, Medicare reimbursement rates, privacy of health records, and congressional oversight of the Food and Drug Administration.
By the end of the decade, the company had broadened its horizons dramatically. “Government relations” now accounted for $2.6 million — a tenfold increase. On one quarterly disclosure report from 2010, Boston Scientific listed 35 different pieces of legislation on which it was lobbying. They included proposals on patent reform, tax penalties for moving American jobs abroad, tax credits for research and development, rules for transporting lithium batteries, limits on workers’ ability to form labor unions and federal regulation of certain types of financial derivatives.
Government relations has become so important to the bottom line of a modern company, Becker said, that it should be a required course at business school. The numbers suggest she’s right. Companies spent about $3.5 billion annually on lobbying at the end of the last decade, a nearly 90 percent increase from 1999 after adjusting for inflation, political scientist Lee Drutman notes in a forthcoming book, “The Business of America Is Lobbying.”
And you wonder why the economy sucks?
Legal services also boomed, fueled by the growing complexities of federal business regulations. The number of lawyers in the D.C. metro area increased by a third from 2000 to 2012, nearly twice as fast as the growth rate nationwide. And those lawyers have the highest mean salaries in the country, according to George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.
The more companies spend on influence, the lower their effective tax rates and the higher their stock returns compared with competitors’, according to recent research. A company called Strategas has built an index to track the stock performance of the 50 companies that lobby the most; last year, that index outperformed the rest of the market by 30 percent.
If you still are confused why the U.S. economy is completely stuck in the mud, look no further than the parasites of Washington D.C.
Full article here.