by Chana Cox
Who says that government employees cannot find work in private industry? Oregon has now reached a new high – or is it new low — in what has been called government “revolving door” employment opportunities. According to Noelle Crombie (Oregonian , December 20, 2013), Patrick Moen, a highly placed federal drug enforcement agent has left the Drug Enforcement Agency, for a job working to clear government hurdles for the marijuana industry. Why? In the Oregonian, Moen explains, “When it comes down to it, this is an incredible opportunity for me professionally and personally.”
I just bet it is.
It probably pays better than the mere $130,000 per year the government was paying Moen to go after drug dealers and producers.
Too many government employees find work in the private sector using their government connections and expertise to lobby for industries that government is regulating or even prohibiting. Patrick Moen is the second high DEA official in Oregon to go over to the other side. He was preceded by Paul Schmidt, who was Oregon’s highest-ranking DEA agent in Oregon until 2010.
In this respect the DEA is probably no different than the SEC, FDA, the Defense department, or any other government agency. One of the reasons that government regulations don’t work except against smaller companies, is that the regulators and the people being regulated are the same people. And so for example, John Corzine left investment banking at Goldman Sacks with a mere $400 million dollars, then became a US Senator on the banking and budget’s committee where he was largely responsible for introducing masses of regulations like Sarbanes Oxley which made it functionally impossible for small companies to go public. Then Corzine served as the Governor of New Jersey, and after being defeated by Chris Christie, he became Chief Operating Officer of MF Global, a financial trading firm. Corzine bankrupted the company, lost vast sums for the firm’s clients, and was accused of disappearing $1.6 billion in client funds. Corzine’s regulators and de facto prosecutors, were themselves people who had worked for him at Goldman Sachs and in government. It was all in the family.
Perhaps, there is something to be said for government employees joining the private economy but it would be better if they were actually doing something other than using their government expertise and contacts to grease the way for their private employers.
Unfortunately, there is a long and rather unsavory tradition of high ranking government bureaucrats, Congressman, Senators, Vice Presidents and even Presidents, leaving government and using their government credentials and contacts to get very lucrative positions in the industries they had been regulating. According to Portland State Professor Pete Tashman, “Former government officials offer businesses an insider’s view of how to navigate regulations and shape future ones.”
Apparently, government has long served as a training school for industry lobbyists in banking, securities, pharmaceuticals, and insurance. Now the DEA is training lobbyists for the Marijuana industry.
What’s next? Endangered species regulators working for wind farms so as to facilitate their slaughter of thousands of “protected” eagles? Department of Education people taking jobs with textbook publishers? Or FBI agents going to work for the Mob?