You usually get a waste of scarce resources, aka "rent seeking". This simple fact is a stake through the heart of the Liberal enterprise.
"Rent-Seek and You Will Find". Further exposition from Professor Munger.
Two notable examples among many that could be offered: "California cities, counties find funds to hire Capitol lobbyists" and "Get Rich or Deny Trying: How to Make Millions Off Obama".
Just because it's so broad in scope: Seth Roberts's "Rent-Seeking Experts".
Just because it's so right: Michael Marlow's The Myth of Fair and Efficient Government: Why the Government You Want is Not the One You Get". (Link goes to Google Books where you can read the Preface and Chapter One.)
Finally, "Why 'Rent-Seeking'?" Explains the importance of this idea to Public Choice economics, and proposes a less nerdy, more descriptive substitute term: "privilege seeking".
Libertarians can raise all kinds of objections to government intervention and its associated rent-seeking, but for non-libertarians, the use of the language of privilege might be especially helpful in tapping into their belief in equality — a belief that libertarians should share since it is a part of the liberal tradition. Whatever one’s view of the market, if one thinks people should be equal before the law, then one should object to government privileges. Whenever we talk to the general public, we should avoid the use of “rent-seeking” and use “privilege-seeking” instead. Not only is it less confusing, it names the problem for what it is and suggests that an important feature of the libertarian world is the absence of such privilege.
And privilege seeking brings us to a serious problem thought to be a failure of markets but which is equally, or more so, a failure of government: crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is the pursuit by business of government favors and privileges and is possible only if government has favors and privileges to give. The Left--the Occupy movement--and the Right--the Tea Party--agree it's bad: bipartisanship at last! But they differ in the solution. I'd agree with those who advocate restricting government power.
Crony Chronicles: "This site exists to be the leading online resource for everything related to cronyism."
A perspective from the Left: "The Rich Get Richer: Obama-Style Crony Capitalism".
For some reason, none of this feels like government by or for the people, and it isn’t. Rather, it seems as though “crony capitalism” is the watchword for this administration. Strip away Obama’s showmanship and scolding, and the president has done just fine in protecting the interests of the top 1 percent, especially among those who were his contributors and the right kind of 1 percenters.
So is the ethanol program: "Is the End in Sight for America’s Biofuel Boondoggle?"
Last but not least, at least a partial answer to the question, why is it so difficult to do your income taxes: "Tax preparers lobby heavily against simple filing".