Interest groups and corporations can make returns of 200 to 1 by lobbying and greasing palms. Spending to influence people and policy is the easiest way to make a quick dollar. With an R.O.I. like that, don't expect it to go away any time soon. A new layer of laws won't mend it. Manufacturing a better product or playing fair and square is hard work.
This article points to a 100:1 return for money spent influencing US defense industry spending.
Here's some of Tides Canada and Tides US funding to oppose projects that compete with the donors' industries in the US. The same point made recently here about the Rockefeller Bros. Foundation.
The disgraced Jack Abramoff explains how he got a 220:1 return on investment for targeted lobbying. He acknowledges his crimes but defends a citizen's right to lobby, to petition the government directly and through agents.
(The interview is hogged by the interviewer initially.) Jack explains that staffers were a better deal than a congressman. If he committed to hiring them a couple years in advance, he knew they were already working for him. Triggering hearings is a way to attack enemies because they may have to spend a million dollars getting ready. Government is a tool to wage war.
There is no cure for human nature. Putting up laws is like putting up dams on a river. The river still flows to the sea, but with hiccups. Better is to make it easier for more voices to lobby politicians. Bring the free market to lobbying. Let a thousand bloggers bloom.