Corruption

Remember the Greediest!

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With a recession upon us and Christmas fast approaching, The New York Times, as usual, is highlighting heartbreaking stories about Americans who have recently suffered economic setbacks. Today's example: the mini-industry of Washington lobbyists who specialized in access to Sen. Ted Stevens, the long-serving Alaska Republican who recently lost his re-election bid after being convicted of illegally hiding corporate gifts. Here is how one of them described the loss:

"They [Alaska voters] don't understand the connection between Ted and the way of life they have come to take for granted," read one e-mail message circulating among former Stevens staff members on K Street. "For those of us long on the dole, the coming reality will take some getting used to."

The Times calls this an example of "dark humor," but it seems more like the literal truth, given how lopsided Alaska's fiscal relationship with the rest of the country has been for the last half-century or so. In addition to obtaining taxpayers' money for Alaska projects such as Eskimo whaling, wilderness mapping by Ducks Unlimited, and the production of salmon-based dog treats, the Stevens lobbyists would help special interests Alaska-ize their funding requests:

Sometimes, Mr. Comstock explained, his job was to translate clients' arguments into the terms of most interest to the senator: the sometimes-parochial interests of Alaska. "Part of the reason why someone might hire me is to help them figure out a way to say, 'Even though this is not directly an Alaskan issue, here is why you ought to be interested,' " Mr. Comstock said.

Mr. Stevens "was progressively parochial," Mr. Rose agreed.

"If you were rolling out a new wireless technology, 'Could it be demoed in Alaska?' " he said. "That was always the catechism."

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  1. Night-night mr. stevens…

  2. Mr. Stevens “was progressively parochial,” Mr. Rose agreed.

    He’s an Alaskan patriot!

  3. Hurrah for democracy!

    Let subsidized freedom ring.

    If we converted to my plan, and selected Senators by lottery, we could at least capture some of the rents currently being collected by the parasite class.

  4. Alaskans will just vote for the next guy or gal who can continue the gravy train. Life goes on.

  5. While Alaska does claim a disproportionate share of federal money, it’s fair to point out that much of the wealth in Alaska is tied up in land that is owned by government and therefore cannot be used. Here’s a map:
    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/11/now-is-the-time.html

  6. KT, nobody can continue the gravy train without Stevens’s seniority.

  7. Alaskans will just vote for the next guy or gal who can continue the gravy train. Life goes on.

    With much less seniority in the Senate.
    That’s a good thing.

  8. I see Nigel beat me to it.

    Shucks.

  9. nobody can continue the gravy train without Stevens’s seniority.

    With much less seniority in the Senate.

    Somebody else with seniority will just take over. It may not be for Alaska, but another one will be bringing the pork home to their state.

    Face it, Byrd will be there for W. Va until he actually dies. His staff is keeping him propped up with string.

  10. “Face it, Byrd will be there for W. Va until he actually dies. His staff is keeping him propped up with string.”

    Well, that’s better than someone having to jam his hand up an octogenarian’s ass, like those poor Strom Thurmond aides.

  11. Why does the government need to subsidize Eskimo whaling? I would think all you need is Eskimos, a boat,harpoons and a whale.You’d think they would be pretty well equipped with boats and hunting and fishing gear so all that leaves is the “whale specific” tools.

  12. Don’t blame me, I voted for the Libertarian.

    Oh, and for the record, my dog likes Yummy Chummies.

  13. The Republican Congress and establishment spent a great deal of effort on the “K Street Project,” an effort to freeze out Democrats from the lobbying shops and make them part and parcel of the Republican establishment itself. They strove to make sure that there were as few lobbyists as possible with connections to Democrats working on K Street.

    And then they lost Congress. In a sense, it’s a broader but less dramatic version of this story about the Ted Stevens industry.

  14. SIV,
    You will remember that the US as a whole has a moratorium on whaling with an exception for native Alaskans.

    The government doesn’t subsidize the whaling per se, rather they fund the research for and representation of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission to the International Whaling Commission.

  15. The government doesn’t subsidize the whaling per se, rather they fund the research for and representation of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission to the International Whaling Commission.

    Doesn’t sound like it helps catch more whales.
    Likely just the opposite.Damn government subsidies.

  16. Yes, it’s almost as if maximizing the number of whales killed isn’t the point.

    Wait a second…

  17. Another useless government bureaucracy joe.This is subsistence whaling by Eskimos, it isn’t like they are going to eat all of them if they don’t get whaling permits.

    Wilderness mapping by Ducks Unlimited? What the USGS doesn’t map Alaska already?

  18. The Republican Congress and establishment spent a great deal of effort on the “K Street Project,” an effort to freeze out Democrats from the lobbying shops and make them part and parcel of the Republican establishment itself.

    One of the more idiotic things the Repubs did. Like lobbyists can’t turn on a dime, and lobby shops can’t lay off superseded Republican shills and import an equal number of Democratic shills.

  19. RC,

    It makes sense if you assume a Permanent Republican Majority, though.

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