The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Special Interest State: James DeLong's new book

The Founders of the American Republic were intensely concerned with the dangers of "faction" (now, we say "special interest"). They knew that factions will always exist, and they designed our government so as to force factions to neutralize each other, like architects analyzing the lines of force necessary to hold up a building.

U.S. politics has gone astray by losing this fundamental insight of the Founders. Rather than maintaining a structure of government that controls the power of faction, we have allowed a variety of factions to capture parts of the government and then use its powers to spend, to tax, to legislate, and to regulate for their own purposes.

To say we have "allowed" capture is too weak. We celebrate capture. Our educated elites, in particular, regard hijacks of government power for private benefit as a basic characteristic of government, not an evil to be resisted. The result is that we have become a "Special Interest State". (Call it "Big SIS").

Worse, we have embraced a virulent form of Big SIS called "systemic corruption". In this, the political system creates economic advantages for special interests and then demands that part of the profits be fed back into the political system, where they are used to enhance the power of the political incumbents.


I bought it on Kindle. It's only 3.99. I think James is really on it here. I would like to write something to the effect that it was this very essential problem that the "classical model of law" destroyed by progressive jurisprudence evolved to address and to some extent correct. Perhaps not an entirely original point, but very much a timely one. --TS

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