Veronique de Rugy: Big Data, Big Business, and Big Government

How bureaucrats are keeping people in the dark about the Export-Import Bank

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Boeing

When the feds disappear huge amounts of data about a dysfunctional, cronyist federal agency without warning, it should raise a few eyebrows. When the bureaucrats evade questions about what happened to the trove of facts and figures, alarm bells should start ringing. And when they staunchly refuse to restore the missing data, despite an outcry from researchers and activists, it's time to take matters into your own hands.

For years, many in the free market movement have argued in favor of abolishing the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a New Deal–era agency that exists to facilitate a relatively small number of domestic exports through its taxpayer-backed credit programs. The fundamental case against the Ex-Im Bank is simple: It's not the federal government's job to subsidize private businesses, period.

Unfortunately, principled arguments against programs like this one are a tough sell to policy makers, Republicans and Democrats alike. That's because most politicians are slaves to special interests who have gotten very good at explaining why small businesses or producers of green energy or companies located in hard-up congressional districts should be the exception to that rule. It's also difficult to rally the losers in this bargain against it, because the costs are dispersed across a mass of victims, most of whom either are unaware of the harm they are incurring, or know but lack the motivation to make their objections heard, according to Veronique de Rugy.