Rent-SeekingEclectEcon reports on it, and it has been on my mind lately, as the current US administration is creating an environment that will be full of it for the next years.
Mind you, here in Canada it is constant feature of daily life. My favorite instance these days is the battle over a CRTC regulation coming up that will force cable TV companies to pay local broadcast stations to carry them. When cable started, it was just a benefit to the stations to be carried on cable as it increased their audience and hence the reach of the advertising they carried. Moreover, regulation has required that the local channel ads get swapped in on US TV channels simulcasting with any Canadian alternative, an enormous additional benefit, that hurts consumers badly particularly during the Superbowl, as I have lamented before. Over the years, of course, the increase in the number of available cable TV stations has diluted the audience.
The new fee to be charged to cable companies to carry local stations has set off a battle of advertising. The cable companies will quite sensibly simply pass the charge on to us customers (which I find painful), and this is politically difficult for the TV stations who lobbied successfully to have this idiotic levy assessed.
So they advertise like fiends. And it saddens me to see one of my favorite artists bought off to support the stupid cause. (And his song is embarrassingly moronic, not a normal Dave Carroll characteristic.)
Meanwhile the cable companies are pissing away money to defend themselves. I think they have a sensible case, as they are undoubtedly not free under regulation to simply drop the local stations off their lineup, which they could feasibly do, as our TVs still have antennas. I would happily forgo the additional charge were my cable TV supplier to drop all local channels, as I have a simple alternative way to get them for free.
In the end, the decisions here, and the tax (effectively) that we consumers will incur are entirely an artifact of government intervention and regulation.
And, as regulation piles upon regulation to correct a previous stupid regulation, we end with a total farce.
The farce goes so far that it is not uncommon to see the two opposing camps advertising back to back on local TV! No doubt that is money that would have been more valuable to us all spent on something else. Thanks, as ever, brilliant government!