In 2008, the United Auto Workers gave both money and manpower to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The next year, when General Motors and Chrysler faced financial meltdown, President Obama intervened. Instead of allowing those companies to go through the normal bankruptcy procedures, he gave large amounts of the firms' stock to the auto workers union, and allowed them to keep their "Cadillac health care plans." However, the bondholders, which included many retirement plans, got the shaft.
Also in 2008, ArcherMidlandDaniels Corporation gave a substantial donation to the re-election campaign of an Iowa congressman. In 2009, as a part of the giant stimulus bill, that congressman steered a grant of $67,000,000 to his agribusiness giant benefactor for ethanol research. (Indeed, the majority of stimulus funds went to groups which had good political connections -Big Business, Big Labor and other special interest groups.)
Both of the actions mentioned above were legal, and this sort of thing happens so often that we give it little thought. But that "crony capitalism" is as venal and harmful a form of corruption as anything found in the most flea-bitten third world country.
The Occupy protesters have it half right; there is something seriously wrong with things in this country. But they have misdiagnosed our national malady and offer the wrong solution - more government.
The thing is, as a government grows larger, it has more goodies to pass out to those groups which are favorably politically connected, and our Federal Government is already obese. Enlarging it further will only make things worse. Already its principal function seems to be income redistribution - taking money out of the pockets of the taxpayer and giving it to cozy insiders.
The Tea Party movement has the right idea: Shrink the Federal Government and rein in the orgy of overspending that has been going on for the past couple of years. A smaller government will have fewer political plums to hand out to special interest groups; it will become less of a gold mine. For decades, it has been becoming ever larger; it is high time to put it on a diet.