Blogs > Liberty and Power > THE REVOLVING DOOR -- CHAPTER 13,468,439

Jan 10, 2004 9:47 pm


It's always useful to have someone working for you who's well-connected:

One of President Bush's advisers is leaving to become Ford Motor Co.'s chief lobbyist in Washington, the auto company said Friday.

Ziad Ojakli, 36, has been working for the White House since January 2001. Most recently, he was a principal deputy for legislative affairs, serving as a liaison between Bush and the U.S. Senate. He will start working for Ford on Feb. 1.

"Ziad brings strong Washington experience to Ford, and I welcome him to the company," Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford said in a statement.

Ojakli arrives at a time when Ford and other U.S. automakers are seeking relief for their surging health care costs. A bill pending before Congress would put off for two years billions of dollars in contributions that companies owe to their pension plans. It also would extend some tax breaks.

Automakers also lobby on a variety of other issues, including safety regulations, fuel economy and foreign trade.

Or as Ayn Rand has some of her characters (usually the villains) remark in Atlas Shrugged, it's important to have a"friend in Washington," given the nature of our mixed economy. (I have discussed various aspects of this corporate statism at length, with regard to both its domestic component and its foreign policy implications.)

In one discussion in Atlas, between industrialist Hank Rearden and his brother, there is this passage about the need for a"man in Washington":

Rearden disliked the subject. He knew that it was necessary to have a man to protect him from the legislature; all industrialists had to employ such men. But he had never given much attention to this aspect of his business; he could not quite convince himself that it was necessary. An inexplicable kind of distaste, part fastidiousness, part boredom, stopped him whenever he tried to consider it.
But if you're going to have such a man, who could be better than someone who had been"a principal deputy [for the White House] for legislative affairs"? Who better, indeed.

But please do keep in mind that whatever this is, it ain't capitalism.

(Cross-posted at The Light of Reason.)

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More Comments:

Billy Beck - 1/11/2004

That's not an insult, Arthur. You can take for one if you want, but it's actually a warning. And I would not bother if I didn't care.

Arthur Silber - 1/11/2004

Leaving aside the entirely inappropriate personal insult, there is a partially valid point in the comment above, one which occurred to me shortly after writing this entry. I say "partially" valid for this reason: in Vanderbilt's time (and with regard to Rearden in Rand's novel), the industrialists were victims, and almost solely victims, of an encroaching government. Today, however, large corporations are both victims and victimizers. Now, corporations are enmeshed with the state in countless ways, and thus acquire powers that they would never have in a freer system. For that reason, it is close to impossible to determine who is worse at this point: the government for strangling companies in innumerable ways, or many companies themselves, for using government to increase their own market power and enrich themselves in ways they never could in a freer economic system. In large part, both sides of the equation are almost equally corrupt, and it's very hard to know which is worse. In this important sense, the world of today is not at all like the world of Vanderbilt's time, so I am not at all certain that Rand herself would defend this practice with regard to many contemporary industrialists in the way she previously did.

Billy Beck - 1/11/2004

Ayn Rand also pointed out that Commodore Vanderbilt had his connections, too, and she defended that. If the context of this news item is diligently conditioned with the implications and facts of over a century of defective premises, then the obvious conclusion is that this entire post has nothing to do with the essentials of the matter.

It'll probably go down well with Atrios, though.