Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lobbying, Charities, & My $5 Thousand Dollar Pledge.

From here:

As Boeing lobbied against a rival aerospace company to win a $35 billion government contract, its activities included a curious donation: $10,000 to the Johnstown, Pa., Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra was a favorite cause of Rep. John Murtha, the late Pennsylvania Democrat who, as a gatekeeper for the Defense Department's budget, held a lot of influence over Pentagon contracting.

Boeing ultimately won the contract to build a new military refueling tanker, after the company and its competitor donated to organizations held in favor by key Pentagon generals and lawmakers like Murtha.

One has to wonder the net benefit to society with such donations. While I am sure that a symphony is a worthy cause, I can't help but wonder if our country would be better off without so much deficit spending. I am often shocked at just how cheap it is to get our politicians to whore themselves out to pass legislation that isn't necessarily good...

If it just takes $10 grand to sway a $35 billion dollar contract, I will donate $5,000 dollars to the favorite charity of the politician that can enact legislation to solve our debt problem in the next decade. I would imagine that I am not the only voter that would be willing to do this. Plus, I would probably contribute to your future re-election campaign(s) as well.

Disclosure: None.


Chris said...

“Why is there so little money in U.S. politics?”

Thirty years ago, Gordon Tullock posed a provocative puzzle: considering the value of public policies at stake and the reputed influence of campaign contributions in policy-making, why is there so little money in U.S. politics? In this paper, we argue that campaign contributions are not a form of policy-buying, but are rather a form of political participation and consumption. We summarize the data on campaign spending, and show through our descriptive statistics and our econometric analysis that individuals, not special interests, are the main source of campaign contributions. Moreover, we demonstrate that campaign giving is a normal good, dependent upon income, and campaign contributions as a percent of GDP have not risen appreciably in over 100 years – if anything, they have probably fallen. We then show that only one in four studies from the previous literature support the popular notion that contributions buy legislators' votes. Finally, we illustrate that when one controls for unobserved constituent and legislator effects, there is little relationship between money and legislator votes. Thus, the question is not why there is so little money politics, but rather why organized interests give at all. We conclude by offering potential answers to this question.


Taylor Conant said...


Cute idea but $5,000 wouldn't be enough of a contribution to convince them to seal up the money spigot.

$10,000 for a $35B contract is a deal because it allows them to spend $35B.

$5,000 to end the deficit is not going to get any traction because ending the deficit means reducing the amount of spending they control.

jeff said...

No arguments on that, Taylor. I think that my pledge demonstrates just how absurd the whole process is. While there is no chance that anybody will do what needs to be done (for the reasons you cite), if there was, I would imagine that I wouldn't be the only person to make a considerable donation.

Taylor Conant said...


Yes, I didn't mean to come across as confrontational. I know we see this the same way. And I get your point about illustrating the absurdity. For some reason, I just felt the urge to spell out why exactly it doesn't work like that ;)

jeff said...

Oh, I didn't think you were being confrontational at all. :)

You have some interesting blogs.

Taylor Conant said...


What can I say, I am an interesting guy. As are you, apparently-- when I told a friend of mine (who likes Atlas Shrugged even more than I do, perhaps) that I was reading a value investor blog called "Ragnar is a Pirate" he flipped out and said, "No way, that is so bad ass!"

I also blog at http://conant.economicpolicyjournal.com, which is my own sub-blog on the proprietor's main blog at http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com

I plan to stay tuned here and look forward to your future posts

jeff said...

so, I have to ask, how'd you stumble onto Ragnar?

Taylor Conant said...

Stumbled into/onto another value blog a few weeks ago, left a comment and the guy told me something about how you were saying the same thing as me, or you were talking about what I was talking about, or I would be interested in visiting your blog, or whatever.

Next thing I know, I am over here, reading your stuff. And nobody even paid me! Am I a nice guy or what?

I don't remember fully, to be honest. I'd go try to dig through the other guy's post for the answer but I can't remember which blog it was, now. But here I am now, take me or leave me.

jeff said...

Haha. Good to have you on board, man.