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Statist Shock Over Payments to Michael Cohen


Statists are shocked — shocked! — over big corporate payments to Donald Trump’s lawyer and fix-it man Michael Cohen. He’s the guy, you will recall, that made the $130,000 secret payment to Trump’s friend Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged affair she had had with Trump.

It turns out though that once Trump got elected, big corporations got interested in Cohen for more than his legal skills and fix-it abilities. The Los Angeles Times reports that just three weeks before the election, Cohen formed a consulting company called Essential Consultants LLC, by which he offered to show clients how to navigate in Washington under a Trump administration.

It didn’t take long for big corporations to suddenly recognize Cohen as a expert consultant on the ways of Washington or about issues that were particularly important to them.

According to the Times, Novartis LLC, one of the world’s largest drug companies, paid Cohen $1.2 million for advice on healthcare, notwithstanding his lack of experience in healthcare.

AT&T, which has an application pending before the federal government for a takeover of Time-Warner, paid him $600,000.

Korean Aerospace paid him $150,000 to advise it on standards relating to U.S. accounting methods.

Columbus Nova, a New York investment firm that manages money of a Russian oligarch, paid him $500,000 to help with real estate matters.

Like I say, statists are shocked that this sort of thing takes place in modern-day America. I’m reminded of the movie Casablanca, where the local constable, Captain Renault, learns that gambling is taking place in Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart’s) bar: “I’m shocked, shocked to learn that gambling is going on in here!” he exclaims. Just after he expresses his shock, a croupier comes up to him and says, “Your winnings, sir,” and Renault responds, “Oh, thank you very much.”

The only reason that statists are “shocked” over these types of big consulting fees is that they simply cannot bring themselves to acknowledge openly, especially to themselves, that such fees are an inherent part of the welfare-state, controlled-economy way of life that statists foisted on our country back in the 1930s.

When government is given the power to do good things for people or bad things to people in the form of welfare, regulation, or taxation, inevitably there are going to be people who are willing to pay for consultation on how Washington works. It’s just the way life is under a welfare state and controlled economy.

The solution? For statists, it’s always the same thing: “We have to get better people in public office!” For almost a century, we have heard them recite that mantra.

It will never work. You can put nothing but nuns in charge of the federal bureaucracy and nothing will change. As long as government wields the power to do good things for people and bad things to people through welfare, regulation, and income taxation, there are going to be people who are willing to provide consultation services and people willing to pay for such services.

There is a solution, however: Restore America’s founding principle of a free-market economy, free people to keep everything they earn (i.e., no more income tax and IRS), and prohibit the government from providing or mandating charity. In other words, no more welfare state and no more controlled economy — a genuine free-enterprise system, one in which economic enterprise is free of government control, regulation, licensure, management, mandate, and taxation.

Now, I ask you: Under that type of system, who is going to be willing to pay for consulting fees to help him navigate in Washington, D.C.? Indeed, who is going to be willing to make large contributions to political candidates?

Answer: Virtually no one. In a system in which public officials lack the power to do good things for people or bad things to people through welfare, regulation, or taxation, the incentive to pay big consulting fees or to make large political contributions drops to zero.

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.