Hearing of the sex scandal involving government employees of the Minerals Management Service, my first thought was “Are they hiring?” But seriously, why should it come as a surprise that government officials charged with oversight of any industry – and in position to influence policy and hand out favors – should be (literally) in bed with those over whom they hold power? This is a classic case of “your scratch my back, and I’ll scratch… ooh, a little bit lower...” Equally predictable are the reactions of those favoring ever more government intervention into (and oversight of) every aspect of our lives. They are shocked – SHOCKED – that such activities could take place, and immediately call for more investigations and (you guessed it) increased oversight, expanding the agency and imposing even more regulations.
But perhaps the problem lies in the nature of the beast. Why even have such institutions as the MMS in the first place? Why should government agencies be in the business of picking winners or even being in the position to “grant official favors” to industries or commercial enterprises under their “oversight?” Shouldn’t government activity in the economic sphere be limited to that of an impartial “referee” enforcing fair play, enforcing rules and contracts, and preventing fraud, theft, and other force?