Monday, February 27, 2006

In Defense of Lobbyists

In today's NY Post the paper editorializes in support of lobbyists. What's really compelling in the piece is the way the Post goes after the mayor's rich man's noblesse oblige arrogance . To wit: "Bloomberg, as usual, is being hypocritical--this time in a classic 'the rich are really different' sort of way."

What's really interesting here is that it is the Post, and not the "get the money out of politics" NY Times (which broke the original story in this regard), that sheds a harsh light on the mayor's use of his great wealth to promote his own political agenda. "The mayor, the wealthiest man in American politics, has been giving for decades. Lately, though, his generosity has been locally focused...Beyond his longtime generosity to medical centers and cultural institutions, his gift list now includes many more local community and ethnic associations."

As the Times reported last year and the Post re-emphasizes in its editorial, "In 2004 alone...Bloomberg, with an enhanced regional focus gave some $140 million to 'more than 800 institutions and groups'-strategically spread around all five boroughs." And the mayor's future career as a philanthropist gives him even greater leverage, as groups vie for his continued largesse.

All of which makes a joke out of the mayor's interest in restraining the putatively nefarious influence of others. It is exactly as we have been saying, great wealth creates its own conflicts and those who promote lobbying and campaign reform without acknowledging this are not going to craft good public policy.