Essays in Political Economy
Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Paul Lagunes
Across the world, private wealth seeks to influence public power. In the extreme, economic and political power unite to produce a kleptocratic system of exploitation. More often, the state and the private sector are distinct but overlapping; the wealthy pursue political influence through lobbying and policy arguments, but such behavior can easily shift toward illicit influence pedaling and outright bribery. A few US examples can illustrate the overlap. In the state of Colorado the former owner of a major beer company helped fund Ronald Reagan’s candidacy for the presidency. After the election, several of the brewery owner’s close affiliates were appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency. Soon afterwards that Agency lifted restrictions that kept the brewery from dumping hazardous waste (Easterly 2002: 243). More recently, news reports claim that the private prison industry helped to draft the state of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law, a law that promised to boost demand for its immigrant detention centers (Sullivan 2010).