You’ve probably suspected that the constant chase for special tax breaks, favorable regulations, and other dubious government “gifts” leads to severe problems in our economy.

Joel Miller attempts to place a price tag on the craziness in his book Size Matters: How Big Government Puts the Squeeze on America’s Families, Finances, and Freedom (Nelson Current, 2006).

He describes the process as “transfer-seeking”:

Most economists who study transfer-seeking estimate anywhere from 5 to 12 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product is consumed in the pursuit of preferential treatment from government. GDP in 2004 was $11.6 trillion. That’s $583 billion at the low end and $1.4 trillion at the ceiling. [National Journal writer] Jonathan Rauch cuts right to the chase: “If those estimates are in the ballpark, then by hunting for redistributive goodies Americans make themselves about 5 to 12 percent poorer than they otherwise would be.”