Monday, December 24, 2007

Laws of Interest Group Politics and Corruption

Consider these to be more or less immutable laws that I will reference regularly on this blog; I reserve the right to add more rules as time goes on:

1. There are no such things as "special" and "public" interest groups: anyone seeking a particular outcome in a particular government action is an interest group, pure and simple.

2. Interest groups, even self-described "public" interest groups, seek nothing more or less than the advancement or protection of their leaders' and members' preferred outcomes.

3. Political parties are merely vehicles for the election of interest groups who have chosen to unite under a single coalition. They have no independent ideology of their own; only the collective ideologies of coalition members.

4. The fewer political parties there are relative to the size of the overall population, the more varied the interest groups that make up each political party, and the less coherent the political party's ideology.

5. The larger a political party and the less coherent its ideology, the more the political party affects the ideology of its constituent interest groups and the less the constituent interest groups affect the party's ideology.

6. Politicians, both elected and unelected, cannot remain in power long if they lose the support of a sufficient number of their core interest groups.

7. A politician cannot implement his preferred policies if he is not in power; thus, remaining in power or obtaining power is the primary goal of any rational politician.

8. Corruption cannot exist without government by definition. The more government you have, the more powerful government is, and the more government controls access to scarce resources, the more corrupt the government will be.

9. Most anti-corruption reforms either legitimize corruption or make it worse by driving it underground. In some cases, anti-corruption reforms backfire by creating a never-ending political campaign, increasing the number of favors a politician must grant in order to remain competitive.

10. The smaller a relevant population, the less significant corruption will be.

11. There is an inverse correlation between corruption and freedom.

12. All politics are interest group politics.