Mar 132003

Munitions manufacturers prosper because many countries want weapons. Philip Morris prospers because many people want cigarettes. Conservative talk radio hosts prosper because many people are conservative, and like to listen to them. Lobbyists prosper because many people want the government to act for their particular ends, and the government has the power to do so. (Campaign finance reform always fails for the same reasons.) McDonalds prospers because many people like Big Macs. Drug dealers prosper because many people like to take drugs. Demand precedes supply. A lot of bad legislation and litigation would be avoided if people could tell an effect from a cause. It’s really not that complicated.

  6 Responses to “Sermonette”

  1. Actually, I have made a fairly good living these last couple of years at a political lobbying/law firm trying to prevent the government from acting in a predatory way against one of my regulated clients. Thus government’s power creates two kinds of demand for lobbyists: favor-asking and protection.

  2. But we don’t want demand to precede supply! We don’t want people to want drugs!

    Don’t wannit don’t wannit don’t wanit!!!


    And there you have the most cogent argument you are likely to get in return.

    You’re welcome.

  3. Bill: it’s true that as government giveth, government taketh away. But your client is one in a million if he recognizes any difference between being protected and not being favored.

    Ian: obliged, as ever.

  4. Aaron:

    The state literally forced my client to trade away $1 billion in cash in exchange for certain contracts. Then the government said the contracts weren’t worth the money paid and therefore the company should be taken over by the state. This description is literally true. At core it is a takings issue, although that argument is difficult to make. My client definitely, in its present state, does not seek favors, just ownership of what is rightfully theirs.

  5. I don’t deny that your client has a valid case. There are legitimate causes to lobby for. Business history, however, indicates that most businesses can’t tell the difference between a legitimate cause and a special favor, or don’t care to. Paul Weaver’s The Suicidal Corporation is an excellent case study in this.

  6. There’s a well-worn truism in economics called Say’s Law, which states that supply creates its own demand.

    Basically, demand and supply are two sides of the same coin. There’s no such thing as a consumer that isn’t also a supplier since consumers have to get the money to purchase that which they consume from somewhere.

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