Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Legal Graft and other Games

The new book "Throw Them All Out" by Peter Schweizer hits the shelves today. Schweizer has written many good books in the investigative journalism vein over the years, but this one strikes chord with me (after reading a few reviews).

One of the biggest unheard of, unseen scandals in American politics is festering. Will we get the full story of the inside game in DC that shows how the elite political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us, while driving our economy into the ground? Do we even want to know? Or does playing ostrich suit us just fine?

It's not new, it's not partisan and it's apparently not illegal, but it is disgusting and morally bankrupt. We have all watched as a nearly 800 billion dollar stimulus package became a funnel to supporters and benefactors, ensuring yet more campaign donations for Obama and the Democrats. We've seen the husbands of Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstien get lucrative deals based on their wives influential positions. John Kerry seems to always come out smelling like a rose with his investments. Republicans are no better, I imagine Bob Dole was not always a very wealthy man, but he was a Senator for a century, right? I mean hasn't Rick Perry done the same thing in Austin Texas? DC has become a profit center for the permanent ruling class and those that support them. They use the government to tilt the playing field in their favor with little regard for the country as a whole.

In her Indianola, Iowa speech last summer Sarah Palin said these same things and the country re-hit the snooze button, and we probably will again in 2012. While there has been a lot of condemnation of Wall Street and fat cat bankers (as well as greedy businessmen) it just misses the boat entirely. It's the ruling class that sets the rules and the rules just aren't going to favor the poor and the middle class. All the more evidence that the Occupy Wall Street uprising needs to move their tents to Washington, D.C. That's home base for people who are really gaming (read: effing up) the system.

In the book’s introduction, Schweizer refers the phenomenon that is the subject of Throw Them All Out "The Government Rich". Yes, these are the same people who are "fighting" for you! Makes you feel empowered, right? These politicians arrive in Washington as people of modest means and somehow become very rich. These elected jobs receive generous pay, but nothing exorbitant. The Government Rich, Schweizer writes, insider deals, insider trading, and taxpayer money have become a pathway to wealth. They walk this exclusive pathway because they get to operate by a different set of rules from the rest of us. Schweizer calls the means by which these politicians achieve wealth honest graft i.e., abuse of their office for personal gain and it's not illegal.

What bothers me more is the attitude of the average citizen. It's either - whataya gonna do? or - boys will be boys, that's how the game is played. Perhaps throwing the bums out will accomplish nothing, Washington will simply corrupt the next batch. Eventually an ethical chap will rise to the top and shame will return as a behavior modifier, right? Am I dreaming?

To think it was not going on when the country was in its ascendancy is maybe naive, but now while we decline it's like rubbing salt in the wound. They probably laugh at the rubes that vote them in time and again and especially at those who put $10 or $50 in an envelope for them. These guys and gals tell us they are fighting for us (the newbies probably believe they are). After a few terms and many flattering (lucrative) meetings with lobbyists and their party bosses they're all playing the game.

Whataya gonna do?



Northman said...

The very sad thing is that it is becoming more and more blatant while so many of us either continue to drink the kool-aide or fall deeper into apathy.

Hope and Change!