George Mason University Economics chair Donald Boudreaux blogs at Cafe Hayek:
In his new book, [Thomas] Frank complains that during this time of alleged free-market ascendancy, the lobbying industry in Washington has blossomed and is inflicting great harm on Americans.
I agree that the lobbying industry on the Potomac swamp continues to grow and that its consequences are generally pernicious. But how in the world can lobbying continue to grow if – as Frank incessantly asserts – markets are increasingly freer? Freer markets mean less powerful governments. And governments whose powers are shrinking have fewer rather than more favors to sell to lobbyists.
If Frank’s claim that the role of markets has increased — implying that the power of government over markets has diminished — then lobbying would be not the boom industry he complains of, but, rather, a dying industry.
Indeed, facts on the ground support Boudreaux’s logic. As we noted last week, the Washington Post is reporting that in anticipation of an Obama administration and a Democratic controlled Congress, corporations are pouring money into K Street:
Attacks from the presidential wannabes and the likelihood that Congress will become even more Democratic — read: more activist — means that many corporate interests will face increased danger next year and will have to employ more of the people whose job is to protect them — lobbyists.
“Next year will seem like 10 years,” predicted Richard H. Baker, president of the Managed Funds Association and a former Republican congressman from Louisiana. In anticipation, his group, which lobbies for hedge funds, has more than doubled the number of lobbying firms it normally hires.