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Bought and paid for

IT HAPPENS often enough that it scarcely elicits comment. After an election, some politicians leave government—only to reappear on the payrolls or boards of large companies. Such firms argue that they need to understand the political process and to engage in lobbying so they can extract themselves from a tangle of red tape. Tech giants, in particular, see themselves as champions of innovation and productivity within economies that have too little of either. But precisely because the biggest firms are increasingly dominant and profitable, the connections between the corporate and political worlds merit close scrutiny.That such connections exist is not necessarily a problem. Firms that use political influence to obtain relief from stifling rules may thereby contribute to growth. Uber’s ride-hailing services often flouted the spirit, and occasionally the letter, of rules governing the hired-car business. To shield itself from legal action, it required influence. To build that influence, it hired political operatives. Such ride-hailing services have increased competition in many markets and improved riders’ experience.
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