Cronyism is a serious problem in the United States, but unfortunately it is still not very well understood. In this new essay, Jay Cost explains what it is, and why we should be so worried about it. By mingling private and public interests, cronyism costs us hundreds of billions of dollars per year and threatens to transform our republic into an oligarchy, where the rich dominate the middle class. Worse, modern cronyism has become embedded into the laws themselves, so politicians in Washington assume that such corruption is just the way things should be. To confront the dangers of cronyism, reformers need to think outside the box, paying special attention to how the political process functions.