Taxpayers Lose in Government-Funded Lobbying Game

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When taxpayers were promised the $800 billion federal stimulus package was going to create jobs, few realized this meant more government jobs. Some government jobs – police officers and teachers, for instance – are defensible; others not so much. Take, lobbyists. During the past few weeks, several localities across the state have announced plans to hire lobbyists to petition the state and federal government for more money. Everyone, it seems, wants their fair share – but it’s a share of an ever shrinking pot, made smaller by squandering tax dollars on wasteful activities like taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Free market economists agree that lobbying is one of the most unfortunate byproducts of government-driven economics. Argues Unleashing Capitalism, a new plan for fueling economic growth in South Carolina: “When it becomes more profitable for companies and industries to invest time into lobbying the political process for favors … firms begin competing over obtaining government tax breaks rather than with each other in the marketplace. They spend time lobbying rather than producing.”

If lobbying is unproductive, taxpayer-funded lobbying is both wasteful, and in some sense, deceptive. The deception is that the government can actually create economic opportunity. Yet, every tax dollar collected by government costs South Carolina’s economy between $1.60 and $1.82. The way the system works is something like this: The federal and state government takes $100 from you the taxpayer in April. And then a year later maybe your county gets a share – say $20. And then maybe at some point you get 50 cents worth of services. Taxpayer funded lobbying, in other words, is one of the most unproductive things government does. And paying for such lobbying constitutes a pure loss for taxpayers.

 

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