A couple of weeks back I intimated that political donations might not be so much about bribing a politician to do something for you: they might in fact be about paying off a politician not to do something to you.

We've not got that decisive information that we would require to confirm either way, but a new report doesn't invalidate my position either

They might not be among the jobless protesting against Wall Street, but the rich are angry, too. Furious over U.S. government gridlock, the wealthy have their own form of protest: Refusing to make political contributions.

Gridlock means that no new laws are getting passed. Sure, if people are refusing to donate because no new laws are being passed then it could be because without new laws being passed there's no point in bribing a politician to get the law you want.

But note also, if no new laws are getting passed then there's no need to pay off a politician to prevent a new law from screwing you over either. The old protection rackets used to send the thugs around to break the windows to show what would happen without the protection: if no new laws can be got through Congress then there's no thugs to send and thus no need to pay.

What does slightly worry me about this formulation, that political donations are demanded not offered, is trying to think up a scenario in which to test it. Anyone got any bright ideas about how we might disprove the hypothesis?