Gingrich on Corporate Influence

No time for a long post today – I am back in town but still on a trip of sorts – but I thought I would call your attention to this interesting interview with Newt Gingrich in the Freakonomics blog on

Newt Gingrich Answers Your Questions – Freakonomics – Opinion – New York Times Blog:

Q: Do you think that corporations have too much power in government, through lobbyists and monetary incentives? What should be done to correct what I see as an imbalance of power between voters and the rich/powerful?

A:There is a direct relationship between the size, influence, and power of a government and the influence of lobbyists on that government. If we are serious about limiting the ability of lobbyists to dictate government policy, we should be serious about limiting the size and scope of the government’s power. Until that happens, the wealthy and powerful will always be able to have influence through lobbying.

I love how big government needs to be stopped because government regulations are onerous distortions of the market and limits on freedom, but big government also needs to be stopped because corporations will have too much influence. Which is it Newt? Oddly, there is a sort of logic to his statement – the more invasive government is in general, the more the tools of that exercise of power could be appropriated by corporations (to gather data, for example, or regulate the use of proprietary technology or information). On the other hand, refusing to regulate corporations will not really benefit any little guys.

Interestingly, while the first 2 points of Gingrich’s health care plan sound like classic conservatism – focus on the individual, and make efficient use of technology – his third point could come straight out of a Democratic stump speech (or Huckabee’s, for example):

3. It will focus on health, not healthcare. We must move from focusing on acute care to focusing on prevention and early detection. Our current system, by providing reimbursement for volume of care rather than outcomes, discourages the type of care that prevents disease and complications from chronic illnesses.

I am pretty adamantly opposed to this individual-centered model – do we really want to be shopping for health insurance ourselves? Having done it once, I can tell you I did not enjoy the experience, and I definitely do not fully understand the coverage I ended up purchasing. I assume (almost hope) that it will cover the bulk of a major medical incident, but I do not understand its preventative care provisions well-enough to rely on them. That being said, I completely agree that focusing on the provision of services obscures the goal of health care, which is to provide health. I just don’t understand how Gingrich plans us to move away from that by focusing on individuals instead of the system.

There’s more interesting bits in the interview, so check it out if you have a moment. I’ll return to some more sociological topics later this week, including some excellent graphs of inequality. Final thought? Gingrich’s favorite books include Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Should we see 1994 as a paradigm shift away from normal politics? Perhaps.



  1. you sound like you would rather have a nanny than a government…

    “I am pretty adamantly opposed to this individual-centered model – do we really want to be shopping for health insurance ourselves?”



  2. david

     /  March 17, 2008

    at the risk of being a tad nitpicky, the problem as gingrich claims, is not acute care. the problem is long-term care of chronic conditions, when an aging population enters life long treatments for renal failure, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, etc. older individuals within this age group account for the vast majority of care given and the costs associated with that care. gingrich is right to say that there needs to be a real, substantive move towards prevention (which is incredibly difficult to pull off, because let’s face it: prevention requires an upfront investment with a payoff that is difficult to measure, if it can be measured at all), but the prevention should be focused on the diseases described above, not acute care per se.

    also, i find gingrich’s logic on big gov’t and lobbying to be rather hilarious. it’s like asking someone a gun control question and being told: “well, there’s a pretty clear relationship between gun ownership and people getting shot. i think the problem will be solved when there’s no people.”

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