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How Washington Power Might Corrupt Google

February 4, 2018 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Two news items from recent days are reminders about the dangers
of mixing business and government. In 2017 Google outdid itself (and all other companies) in its
efforts to influence Washington, spending more on lobbying than any
other company that year. Meanwhile in Brazil, the largest-ever
corruption investigation in Latin America’s history has spread to
14 countries, due to bribes paid by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction
firm, in efforts to secure government contracts. What’s already
known is that Odebrecht paid $29 million to Peruvian officials in
return for $12.5 billion in contracts.

These stories are very different. The United States is not Latin
America, and Google is not Odebrecht. Nevertheless, they do have
something in common. When a government has a lot of money and
power, individuals, businesses and interest groups will expend
their money and effort to get a piece of it — or simply to be
left in peace.

Such aims couldn’t be more different. Notably, much if not all
of Google’s lobbying is defensive. It wants to be
left alone to innovate and serve consumers. It seeks to resist
restrictions on immigration, excessive taxation, antitrust suits
and regulation of its advertising. Odebrecht, on the other hand,
seeks to get billion dollar government construction contracts,
sometimes by bribing high-ranking officials.

But both firms may simply see these expenditures as the cost of
doing business. Business people know that you have to invest to
make money. Businesses invest in factories, labor, research and
development, marketing and all the other processes that bring goods
to consumers and, they hope, lead to profits. But businesses can
also invest in political processes that may yield profits. If more
money can be made by investing in Washington — or Brasilia or
Lima — than by developing a new app or drilling another oil
well, money will be spent there.

Money spent by politicians in Washington, as with most national
capitals, is taken from the people who produced it all over
America. Washington produces little real value on its own. National
defense and courts are essential to our freedom and prosperity, but
that’s a small part of what the federal government does these
days. Most federal activity involves taking money from
some people, giving it to others and keeping a big chunk as a
transaction fee.

Every business and interest group in society has an office in
Washington devoted to getting some of the $4 trillion dollar federal budget for itself:
senior citizens, farmers, veterans, teachers, social workers, oil
companies, construction companies, labor unions, the
military-industrial complex — you name it. The massive
<a target=_blank href="http://www.businessinsider.com/national-debt-deficit-added-under-president-barack-obama-2017-1" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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