Friday, September 25, 2015

Promoting a Free Market

Does it depend on a sweetener?

Over the past week I've been tweeting some of the contributions reported by our representative since his first Congressional campaign in 2008. I was interested in four industries in particular, but you can do the same yourself – just visit the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website and its Candidate and Committee Viewer page.

In a previous post, I applauded our representative's support of the President's Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). He made a pretty good speech on the House floor, noting that his vote was contrary to the positions of the great many in his party. And he got a ride on Air Force One with the President to an economic conference in Germany. Maybe not quid pro quo but a pretty sweet treat.

So I wondered what support our man in Washington got from others that support free markets. What I found on the FEC website was discouraging.

The American sugar lobby supports restrictions on less expensive sugar imports, restrictions that cost consumers $3 billion a year and 20,000 American jobs in the confectionery industry.

Ugh, middlemen. Whether it's cars, mutual funds, or beer – can't stand 'em. They offer no value and raise consumer prices. But our guy got 13 sums totaling over $28,000 from the beer distributors lobby.

While technology has brought innovation, choice, and price competition to the transportation sector (think Uber and Lyft), it's done little in the residential real estate market where agents regulate themselves. As a result, "Chang-Tai Hsieh of the University of Chicago finds that American property brokers cause 'social waste' of $8 billion a year via overcharging and inefficiency."

And then there's the U.S. Postal Service. Potential private-sector competitors are legally barred from residential mail delivery.

Look – I'm not naive. I know money powers politics. But I crave consistency. And to my eye the only consistency I see is a desire to stay in office.