Members of Congress Benefit at Taxpayer Expense

The headline of this Washington Post article summarizes the story pretty well: “Some legislators send millions to groups connected to their relatives.”  Relatives in the story are legislators’ spouses and children.

I recently blogged about the insider trading by members of Congress that would send ordinary citizens to jail.  That story was uncovered in a book by Peter Schweizer that, happily, got enough publicity that Congress is now working on a law to prevent themselves from doing what is illegal for everyone else.  We’ll see what they actually come up with.

I am all in favor of laws to stop legislators from enriching themselves at our expense, but laws will not solve this problem.  Government forcibly takes a huge amount of money from taxpayers and then has the discretion to decide who gets it.  The only way to reduce this corrupt activity is to shrink government so that legislators have less money that they can direct as they see fit.

As long as one group of people can forcibly take money from others and then distribute it as they see fit, the people with the power to take and distribute will benefit.  When this happens in the private sector we call it robbery.  When it happens in the public sector we call it legislation.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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