The Unchecked Power: Special Interests

October 11, 2009

From Milton and Rose Friedmans’ Free to Choose:

Concentrated versus Diffuse Interests

Both the fragmentation of power and the conflicting government policies are rooted in political realities of a democratic system that operates by enacting detailed and specific legislation.  Such a system tends to give undue political power to small groups that have highly concentrated interests, to give greater weight to obvious, direct, and immediate effects of government action than to possibly more important but concealed, indirect, and delayed effects, to set in  motion a process that sacrifices the general interest to serve special interests, rather than the other way around.  There is, as it were, an invisible hand in politics that operates in precisely the opposite direction to Adam Smith’s invisible hand.  Individuals who intend only to promote the general interest are led by the invisible political hand to promote a special interest that they had no intention to promote.

 

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