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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Solution to Big Money in Politics


Not surprisingly, the big subject of discussion among Republicans and Democrats, along with conservative and leftist commentators, is the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that lifted the ceiling on the amounts of money that people can donate to political campaigns. Democrats and leftists are upset, saying that now billionaires will control the political process. Republicans and conservatives are ecstatic for the same reason.

Yawn! What a silly debate. After all, none of these people ever bothers to ask why it is that so many people consider it worth it to put so much of their hard-earned money into the pockets of people who are running for public office. It seems obvious to me that there are so many better, more productive ways for people to use their money.

Consider church ministers. I don’t see them putting much of their money or church money into political campaigns.

Why is that?

The answer is simple: The government doesn’t have the power to dole out monies or other benefits to churches. No subsidies to help build the churches. No doles to the ministers. No grants to build church parking lots. The government also lacks the power to regulate church activity.

The government lacks the power, under the Constitution, to do good things for churches or bad things to churches.

So, what’s the point of donating to public candidates if they can’t give you special benefits or do bad things to you? That’s why churches and ministers aren’t donating big bucks to political campaigns.

Not so with everyone else, especially businessmen. With everyone else, the government wields the power to do big and grandiose things for people. Grants, subsidies, doles, bailouts, defense contracts, and income-tax deductions and credits. And it also wields the power to do bad things to people—regulations, prosecutions for insider trading and other economic crimes, IRS audits, cancellation of government contracts, and fines and imprisonment.

We’re talking about $3 trillion in money that is taken from American taxpayers that is ready to be doled out. That’s a lot of money. Such a large amount of money attracts attention. We’re also talking about a vast array of bad things that the government can do to people. That also attracts attention.

So, doesn’t it make sense that there would be lots of people donating big bucks to political candidates? It’s like an investment. A company donates $100,000 to a political candidate with the expectation that if the candidate wins, he will award the company with a $3 million grant or contract.

Conversely, if a company donates nothing, it will get nothing from the government and also will not be able to seek help from the public official if it is prosecuted for insider trading, income tax violations, or some other economic crime. Businessmen look at campaign contributions as a special form of insurance or protection money.

And of course, we can’t ever refer to this process as bribery. That term just doesn’t apply to a government that sees itself as exceptional—as different from, say, Latin American regimes.

So, is there a real solution to all this?


The real solution is the one that applies to churches and church ministers. Remove the power of the government to do good things for people and bad things to people. No more power to dole out grants, subsidies, and doles to anyone, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, defense contracts, and foreign aid.

Repeal the income tax and abolish the IRS. Abolish the Federal Reserve and establish a free-market monetary system. Repeal all economic crimes, including insider trading laws. Dismantle all the welfare agencies and departments. Get rid of the drug war. Dismantle the military empire and the military industrial complex. Abolish the CIA and the NSA.

In other words, separate economy and the state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. Separate health care and the state. Separate money and the state. Restore a limited government, constitutional republic to our land.

Once the government lacks the authority to do dole out special benefits to people or do bad things to people, the incentive to give large amounts of money to political candidates dissipates. That’s because no one will then have any big reason to care who’s in office.

Just ask those church ministers who don’t put big money into the pockets of political candidates.

Postcript: We had another nice evening last night on the second leg of our Libertarian Angle tour. Sheldon and I shared ideas on liberty with people at Penn State. We talked about the welfare state, the drug war, and the warfare state and why it’s important that we talk about dismantling them, not reforming them. Now it’s on to Binghamton University in New York. Continued thanks to the Young Americans for Liberty for hosting our events.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.