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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Where there's a buck, there's a will...

My version of the old saying goes like this: "Where there's a buck, there's a will, and where there's a will, there's a way." The important point is to admit to the source of the proverbial "will" - which in my mind is a "buck" or some other gain (it doesn't have to be monetary).

My version of the cliche goes a long way to explaining seemingly odd or unanticipated behavior, which of course could have been easily anticipated. For example, consider this clip from a story in today's Chronicle of Higher Education:
Public universities seeking Congressionally earmarked money for campus projects frequently pump up their lobbying efforts, a watchdog group says, by providing free tickets to lawmakers and their staffs for championship games, like the NCAA Basketball Tournament that tips off on Thursday.

The gift giving is legal because public colleges, local governments, and Indian tribes are exempt from Congressional limits on gifts to members of Congress, says Americans for Prosperity, a Washington-based group that supports reducing federal spending and taxes. The group wants the loophole closed so that all lobbyists are treated equally.
Now, I don't have a strong opinion in this particular matter. I suppose giving away tickets to college sports is much like giving away tickets to professional sports - it builds relationships of some sort, for good or for ill. What I find more interesting is the clear incentive schools have to provide comps to people of interest. How this was unanticipated by the powers that be is a bit of a head-scratcher. This is especially true when you recognize that the primary competition for earmarks, that from the private sector, as essentially been pushed out of the market for earmarks.

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