Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Political Power: Pay to Play vs. Play then Pay

PROBLEM: Illinois Gov. Blagojevich's naked use of political power is known as "Pay to Play" whereby a consideration is given, then a government favor is dispersed. The most egregious of such considerations is direct personal enrichment of the individual politician, i.e., "Cold Cash" Jefferson, Sen. Stevens, et. al. Most direct personal enrichments are illegal.

Less egregious Pay to Play are indirect enrichments like political campaign contributions or employing a spouse/crony/relative first, then government favor later. Some of these enrichments are illegal.

However, the "Play then Pay" use of political power is almost never considered illegal. It's use is not "naked," or in legal words "quid pro quo" since the favor is dispersed first.

Sophisticated politicians and government favor recipients further distance themselves from the illegal "quid pro quo" by using the mostly legal "quo pro quid." And, the most practiced politicians use the totally legal "quo pro assumed quid" method to dispense government favor. This method might be described as a "wink-and-a-nod" if such a physical gesture is needed at all.

Another description of "quo pro quid" among politicians themselves could be "vote swapping," a common tactic used within various legislative bodies build working majorities.

I hope this helps explain the difference between the legal and illegal use of political power.

SOLUTION: Minimal government.

For further study Google Nobel Prize winning "Public Choice Theory."

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