Representatives? Not Really….They’re “Fixers”

In today’s New York Times, this interesting story about how one Senator (the presumptive GOP presidential nominee) has done favors for a constituent, “A Developer, His Deals and His Ties to McCain.”

Mr. Diamond, for his part, said Mr. McCain had only done his job. â??I think that is what Congress people are supposed to do for constituents,â? he said. â??When you have a big, significant businessman like myself, why wouldnâ??t you want to help move things along? What else would they do? They waste so much time with legislation.â?

The process is well described and analyzed by Fred McChesney in his important book, Money for Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997)

2 Responses to “Representatives? Not Really….They’re “Fixers””

  1. After reading this, I’m not sure what to say. Diamond mostly looks like an entrepreneur trying to get around red tape and regulation. So McCain helped Diamond around the ESA? Good. The ESA itself is the fundamental problem. If McCain had instead insisted development be blocked on behalf of alleged benefits to owls, would that be better?

    As for the land swaps, environmentalists never seem to like them, regardless of what happens. I gather their logic is that since the private owner agrees, he benefits, and since all trade is a zero sum game, his gain must mean the public loses. Well, the logic is badly flawed.

    As for the privatization deals, it’s again hard to see what alternative would be less objectionable. I note that some bureaucrat was upset that the regulatory system was circumvented, but it wasn’t clear why anyone other than the bureaucrats should care.

    We should get rid of our regulatory system. But so long as we have it, if politicians would spend more time cutting red tape instead of creating more of it, we’d be better off. Diamond’s quote is right on target.

    As for McCain, his problem is that he’s spent far too much time creating red tape to cut.

  2. Tom G. Palmer

    The last point is precisely the point. Politicians create problems and then get support for getting people out of them. That’s a case of what Fred McChesney calls “money for nothing.”

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