From the Economist on growing state influence worldwide:
The public sector is subjected to all sorts of perverse incentives. Politicians use public money to “buy” votes. America is littered with white elephants such as the John Murtha airport in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars but serves only a handful of passengers, including Mr Murtha, who happens to be chairman of a powerful congressional committee. Interest groups spend hugely to try to affect political decisions: there are 1,800 registered lobbyists in the European Union, 5,000 in Canada and no fewer than 15,000 in America. Mr Bush’s energy bill was so influenced by lobbyists that John McCain dubbed it the “No Lobbyist Left Behind” act.