The State of Affairs: corruption in many forms

Corruption is one of those ‘both sides do it’ things that cynics use to condemn all politicians. That means that matters of degree are being tossed aside and the ‘reduce to the absurd’ logical fallacy is on parade. Richard Rahn doesn’t get into ‘both sides’ but instead catalogues the problems in a specific case. Intellectual and policy corruption, Team Obama rewards its friends, punishes its foes describes a list that could be the start of a measuring tool for evaluating degree and types of corruption in government.

Government corruption can take many forms. Last week, most of those forms could be seen in the actions of the Obama administration – everything from government officials taking simple bribes, to covering up wrongdoing, to using taxpayer money to pay off political supporters, to using government prosecutors to punish enemies, to failing to fulfill its fiduciary duty to citizens by not performing cost-benefit analyses before taking actions. Promulgating policies that knowingly hurt millions of people is far more serious than a government official requesting a cash bribe – as despicable as that may be. Pushing for tax increases without first getting rid of counterproductive or useless programs and cleaning up mismanagement is an example of policy corruption.

There are also related measures, such as a measure of economic freedom or corruption indexes created by NPO’s and the interpretation of individual economic health.

This is related to the brouhaha created by Justice Ginsburg ‘dissing’ the U.S. Constitution in Egypt recently. (see U.S. Justices’ Foreign Statements About the U.S. Constitution). At the link, the commentary sees no problem with a Justice making disparaging remarks about the legal code she swore to uphold and defend – because she does have the freedom of expression, after all. The problem is that the context is one of expanding the rights of the citizenry to entitlements, not matters of governance structure. Governments based on what they can provide for the people tend to not last very long when compared to governments where rights are those of expression, ownership, and due process. The tenure of the U.S. Constitution is a phenomena that has to be swept under the rug when pushing for more ‘modern’ governance documents. That is how corruption is maintained – by setting reality aside and holding intellectual integrity at bay.

For a more detailed description of what Justice Ginsberg is advocating, see Joseph Klein on Trashing the Constitution. Another rundown on the missing pieces is Stephen Hayward on Liberals and the Constitution.

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