Capture (politics)


Capture (politics)

In public choice theory and political science, capture is said to occur when bureaucrats or politicians, who are supposed be acting in the public interest, end up acting systematically to favor particular vested interests. The theory of capture is associated with the Nobel laureate economist George Stigler, one of its main developers.

Public choice theory holds that capture is inevitable, because vested interests have a concentrated financial stake in the outcomes of political decisions, thus ensuring that they will find means—direct or indirect—to capture decision makers.

While this inevitablist application of rational choice theory appears to some as excessively pessimistic about government, others claim to have observed capture.Fact|date=January 2008

An alternative theory states that capture actually takes place in the opposite direction, as governments use the privileges bestowed on certain interest groups as an excuse to control them and force them to serve the aims of politicians and bureaucrats.

Others still contend that the above is overly optimistic, stating that no one actually benefits from political redistribution, since competition must eventually eliminate every profit from political activity and the completely unproductive efforts people must make to get their share of the loot eventually absorb most of the rent and the redistributed wealth is actually lost for everyone.

Finally, yet others accept Stigler's theory of regulatory capture and expand it. Jon Hansen [ [http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/facdir.php?id=25 Jon Hanson] ] and his co-authors agree that regulatory agencies can be captured by powerful corporate interests, and argue that all institutions, from the media to academia to popular culture, can be captured by powerful corporate interests, a phenomenon they call "deep capture." [Jon Hanson & David Yosifon, "The Situation: An Introduction to the Situational Character, Critical Realism, Power Economics, and Deep Capture", 152 U. Pa. L. Rev. 129 (2003).]

Quotes

In 1913 Woodrow Wilson wrote:

"If the government is to tell big business men how to run their business, then don't you see that big business men have to get closer to the government even than they are now? Don't you see that they must capture the government, in order not to be restrained too much by it? Must capture the government? They have already captured it." [ [http://www.isgp.eu/introduction.htm An introduction to the world we live in] ]

See also

* Public Choice Theory
* Military-industrial complex
* Regulatory capture
* Revolving door

References


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