Follow the Money
Quirky billionaires have an outsized influence on public policy.
By JOHN LEAKE
According to Wikipedia:
“Follow the money" is a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 docudrama film All the President's Men, which suggests political corruption can be brought to light by examining money transfers between parties.
Because human affairs are complex, we may be inclined to think that such a rudimentary investigative principle is of limited practical utility, but in recent years I have found it infallible.
The world is full of would be activists—people who are fervently interested in promoting a program. Many of these programs are eccentric at best, and as long as no money is available to fund them, they will remain in obscurity. However, if a program’s activists are energetic and backed with massive funding, they may rapidly exercise major influence on public policy.
Money has always been used to propagate new ideas and beliefs. In a true liberal democracy with a free marketplace of ideas, such propaganda will be challenged and circumscribed by competing points of view. Its influence becomes pernicious when the marketplace of ideas ceases being free because competing opinions are censored and vilified.
Many now marvel at how propositions that no one believed in or even talked about just a few years ago may, virtually overnight, become vociferously supported by governments, corporations, and celebrities.
It’s important to understand that such movements don’t emerge organically at the grassroots level. They fire up and rapidly gather steam only when they are backed by significant capital.
Thus, anytime you are confronted with the seemingly widespread embrace of an irrational or even destructive doctrine, it’s likely that a quirky billionaire and his foundation are generously funding its propagation and the election campaigns of politicians who will endorse it.
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