A. Barton Hinkle Connects the Dots of Corruption


Credit: Gage Skidmore / Foter / CC BY-SA

Suppose politicians swore an oath never to intervene in the marketplace. Suppose they behaved as though there were a great wall of separation, like that between church and state, separating state and economics. In that case, what reason would anyone have to lavish such largesse upon state politicians? Affection alone would not add up to anywhere near the princely sums that have moved from the hands Jonnie Williams, CEO of Star Scientific, to those of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. The political allocation of economic goods creates a powerful incentive for private interests to allocate economic goods to politicians.

As A. Barton Hinkle observes, if you look closely at history, you can see the threads running through seemingly unrelated events. He traces those that tie together Virginia's scandal-plagued governor, the decline and fall of Detroit, and President Obama's latest economic strategy.