You can be sure that the ethanol lobby has been very busy with all those farm votes and the Iowa primary so important for presidential hopefuls. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union contributed the most to the Obama campaign I believe. There is also a strange feature to the public employee feature of our present crisis. President Obama has granted federal employees and Congress pay increases while many state and local employees are getting pay freezes and reduced hours. Many states and localities have singled out teachers for the harshest treatment when it comes to pay cuts and layoffs. In the end, prison guards, police and firefighters are much more important than teachers according to the state and local government bureaucrats who have insulated themselves very well against economic hardship for now or in the future. In many states, the legislatures cannot even reduce the pensions of retired employees and currently working employees because the employee unions have made this impossible to do under the laws or state constitution. For instance, in San Diego, the City Council illegally raised pension benefits for themselves, while the city cannot roll back the benefits for all the other city employees even though elected officials created them through illegal actions. With incumbency assured in most cases, our governing class has set about to install as many of their relatives and friends in political appointee jobs in the federal government or as employees with contractors doing business with the federal government. They also start up small firms that become sub-contractors on big projects and fly below the radar.
Rep. John Murtha (D., Pa.) has had a lot of press on this and of course pay-to-play is now a household word. It was a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who started the dismemberment of our mostly merit-based civil service when he created the Office of Personnel Management and abolished the old Civil Service Commission that served us well for a very long time. Carter's complaint was that entrenched senior career civil servants were blocking his attempt to streamline government. In the beginning, the Congress authorized very few jobs to be political appointments. Now of course a new administration can replace the head of computer operations of an agency and that person immediately sets to work to reinvent the wheel. I have seen it happen. The Hurricane Katrina disaster was mostly the result of political appointees replacing long-time knowledgeable civil servants and then driving out many lower ranking long-term employees who knew how to handle the aftermath of a gigantic natural disaster.