Letter: Less government would reduce big money’s role

From: Justin Hohn


Emery Sheffield’s recent letter to the editor about working to allow the non-rich to run for office inspires me to share a simple proposal.

The high cost of running for office comes from the competition of a strong demand for a finite supply. Why is the demand so strong? Why is it so desirable to hold office that individuals and groups are willing to spend countless millions of dollars to acquire it?

The answer is simple: power. Political power is the ultimate power. The power to tax. The power to destroy. The power to reward friends (who may show their appreciation from time to time) and punish your enemies. Political power is parlayed into personal wealth, and then wealth is parlayed into political power. Congress members turn $174,000 incomes into tidy fortunes in just a few years.

There’s only one way to get the money out of politics: move the lion’s share of our lives subject to government outside its reach. When government doesn’t fund, regulate, or tax almost everything, it is an instrument so devoid of power that not many desire to wield it.

Government at all levels (state, local, federal) consumed less than 10 percent of our gross domestic product for the majority of our nation’s pre-World War II history. Now it’s over 40 percent and getting higher. We spent only 52 percent in the mad dash of 1945 for developing a nuclear bomb and winning the largest war in history — and that was only for one year. It seems there is some overhead these days.

The relationship between governed and governors changed as a direct result of abandoning the 10th Amendment and the idea of a limited government of enumerated powers. Aided by imprudent court rulings, the government has extended its reach to include almost our entire lives. It can make you buy insurance and force you to sell a cake. It can punish you for being infertile (no child tax credit for you). It will determine with whom you will do business and on what terms. It can ruin you and throw you in prison almost any time it wishes. Google Howard Root and read his story.

The key to getting money out of government is getting the government out of so much money. The more money government touches, the more it attracts. It attracts corruption as well.

Until and unless we summon the courage to reverse the trend to socialize individual responsibility, there will only be more government of larger cost run by richer and richer people.