9.2.16

IT'S THE RENT-SEEKING, STUPID.

The more involved the national government is in daily life, the more influence affected people will seek in influencing government.
With more at stake, it makes sense for there to be an even bigger fight over who controls the federal government. If federal spending still amounted to 2 percent to 3 percent of GDP — as it did a century ago — people likely wouldn’t care as passionately about the outcome of most elections.

In the Journal of Law and Economics in 2000, I looked at the years 1976 to 1994 and studied spending on gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns. Almost 80 percent of the increase in campaign spending could be explained by the growth of state governments.
That's John R. Lott, referring to previous research. And aggregate spending on influencing government is cheap, compared to selling colored water in blue cans to dumb guys on Super Bowl Sunday.
The money spent on the 2014 midterm elections is less than 0.1 percent of the nearly $4 trillion of federal spending. That’s one dollar in campaign spending for every thousand dollars of federal expenditures.

In a single year, a private company may spend more on advertising than is spent on an entire federal election cycle. In 2014, Procter & Gamble’s spending on advertising came to $2.64 billion — almost three-quarters of what has been spent on all federal elections during the entire 2013-14 two-year election cycle.

As government spending (and involvement in our daily lives) increases, it’s only natural that people will want to spend more money on determining who wields that power.

Ironically, with Sanders promising $18 trillion in new government spending over the next decade, he would cause the very massive increase in campaign spending that he says he wants to avoid.

Growing campaign spending is a symptom, not the cause, of what ails our republic. And Sanders will only make it worse.
Hat tip: Craig Newmark.

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