In a commentary opposing the Conference Accountability Act of 2013, which would limit spending on government conferences such as those held by the IRS, Steve Vito, Executive Vice President, Sage Communications, a GSA contractor, listed three major reasons for government conferences.
1. Conferences are an ideal venue to exchange ideas and best practices,
2. Conferences foster working relationships among peers, and
3. Conferences provide needed revenues to non-profit associations and government media companies.
The third reason given by Mr. Vito raises the question: Why should American taxpayers be forced to cover the cost of government conferences in order to ensure that non-profit associations and government media companies have a stable flow of taxpayer money?
Government media firms and non-profits cannot legally make individual American citizens fund their activities, so they turn to government to force citizens to support them. This is what French political economist, Frederic Bastiat calls “legal plunder.” (But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.)
If private companies and non-profit organizations cannot get people to voluntarily support their conference business, why shouldn’t they just go out of business?
And, why should Americans be subjected to legal plunder in order to support these organizations?
Bad Policy is an ongoing series of short articles that ask readers to reflect on questionable public policies.