"The power motive is as strong as the profit motive and is usually more destructive."
Washington DC (PRWEB) September 19, 2012
“The political conventions ignored the biggest threat to the nation,” says James V. DeLong, author of a new book about special interest groups entitled Ending ‘Big SIS’ (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic. “We do not have a welfare state. We have a special interest state. We allow a wide variety of factions to capture parts of the government and then use its power to spend, to tax, to legislate, and to regulate for their own purposes.”
This development is undermining the fundamental legitimacy of our government, adds DeLong. “The basis of our political system is the consent of the governed. But, according to recent polls, less than 25% of the people think government has that consent. The reason: people believe they consented to a system designed to assure that government acts in the public interest. They did not consent to whatever abuses savvy political operators manage to extract from the system.”
As DeLong explains in the book, the nation’s Founders understood the urgency of preventing capture of government by “factions” (the equivalent of the modern term “special interest groups”), and “U.S. politics has gone astray by losing this fundamental insight.”
Both major parties have cooperated in creating the special interest state, so neither wants to call the crisis to public attention. But a crisis it surely is, says DeLong. Governments at all levels now control well over 60% of our GDP, “Yet still the interests come, fighting their way to the trough, arguing that 60% is not enough, and that the ‘welfare state’ requires still more.”
Furthermore, “the leverage exerted by Big SIS affects decisions far beyond the money that it commandeers directly. It distorts the incentive structures throughout society, and sends investors and workers skittering off in unproductive directions.”
The special interest groups come in many shapes and sizes.
As stated in the book, economic groups are well represented, such as crony capitalists, unions, and public employees, but so are ideological factions, such as the radical environmentalists that have captured the Environmental Protection Agency.
DeLong adds, “Demographic groups are important, especially the elderly, who have established the principle that being old, no matter how rich, entitles one to subsidies from the young, no matter how poor.
“Those dependent on government aid and their enablers in the bureaucracy have become another distinct and powerful constituency. The legitimate moral claims of the civil rights movement have given rise to a host of imitators who claim victim status.”
Ending Big SIS includes four chapters, in addition to an Introduction:
“How We Got Here: The Rise of Big SIS,” summarizes the evolution of the special interest state through the 19th and 20th Centuries, describing how the political system moved away from a healthy fear of capture by special interest groups and dismantled the protections put in place by the founders.
“Where We Are: Big SIS Today,” describes our current situation.
“Diagnosis and Prognosis: Big SIS Tomorrow,” assesses the factors that stand in the way of reform.
“An Alternative to Big SIS: Renewing the Republic,” makes specific suggestions for saving the Republic by restoring the concept that government actions should focus on aiding the other institutions of society, not on exercising direct control over major segments of the society.
Ending ‘Big SIS’ (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic is backed by a website dedicated to special interest groups. It is available as an ebook or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and as a paperback wherever books are sold.
About the Author
James V. DeLong is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where he majored in American History, and a magna cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School, where he served as Book Review Editor of the Law Review.
He has lived in Washington, DC for four decades and has been a lawyer, middle-manager, analyst, and research director for federal agencies; an executive and writer at market-oriented think tanks; a foundation executive; and a free-lance lawyer/consultant.
He is an Adjunct Scholar of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a Policy Advisor to the Heartland Institute.
Mr. DeLong is the author of numerous articles and papers on property rights, administrative law and practice, environmental affairs, telecommunications, intellectual property, and other public policy topics.
James V. DeLong
PO Box 2252
Red Lodge, MT 59068