Perhaps the only thing surprising about the research described in this Washington Post article is how demonstrable and quantifiable the effects are:
In a remarkable illustration of the power of lobbying in Washington, a study released last week found that a single tax break in 2004 earned companies $220 for every dollar they spent on the issue — a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investment.
The study by researchers at the University of Kansas underscores the central reason that lobbying has become a $3 billion-a-year industry in Washington: It pays.
I like the way Mr. Coyote put it:
We have a sense that there is more corruption than ever in politics, but I think its demonstrably true that people and politicians are not any more or less evil than they were 100 years ago. The only difference is that the sums in play from political influence are so much larger. Its a concept I try to explain to people all the time. The way to fix corruption in politics is not through campaign finance reform, it is through reducing the size of government. Because no matter what restrictions one puts in place, if we set up a system where it pays to invest in politicians, then people will find a way to do so.
Yes. This statement is a variation on my oft-made claim that the way to reduce corruption, lobbying, wasteful rent-seeking, and the inefficiency and distortion that political processes induce is to remove as many important decision from the political process as possible.