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Meet the New Boss...
Posted by: Jon Henke on Saturday, November 11, 2006

Radley Balko observes that the Democrats hadn't even been in the majority for 72 hours before they were working on their own culture of corruption. Naturally, this kind of thing is endemic and not a function of political ideology or identity, but many seem to forget that.

In light of that, a recent rant from a friend deserves to be read widely.
"Dear Mr. [guy who blames Republicans for everything]:

How wonderful it must be right now to be you. Most of us, if not all of us, go through life with some misery and pain, and we do not have an exact entity in which to blame all the world's troubles on. You, however, have managed to find this paradise, and for this I am extremely jealous.

How nice it must be to have found your own personal Satan, and name it the Republican party.

It seems to me that you are forgetting one of the most universal truths in all of mankind when you rail about the GOP. That truth is balance. You cannot have light without dark, good without bad, and Ben without Jerry. Suppose you get your wish and everyone votes for the Dems (because they are not Reps) and suddenly there were no more Republicans? Ever?

Oh, I imagine you would dance and cheer and clap and for a short, brief, time have a grand party. But then it would slowly dawn on you. All of the items you railed about against the GOP...are still...there.

There would still be unjust war. There would still be corrupt politicians. There would still be government agencies that are inept to levels beyond comprehension. People will still lie, people will still cheat, and people
will still steal.
The value in tossing the bums lies in reminding them that they can be tossed. If you think that the "culture of corruption" will go away if only we'd elect the Right People, then you lost the plot long ago. they were never serious about getting rid of the corruption...they just wanted a piece of it. Until you change the underlying incentives, the story will stay the same.

If the Democrats move to limit their own power and to change the underlying incentives, they'll change the culture. If not, then they were never serious about getting rid of the corruption...they just wanted a piece of it.

I wish it were not so, but my money is on the latter.
 
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Newt Gingrich made the Republican party, Tom delay crippled it.

The point is that when the R’s came to power, they immediately addressed the culture of corruption and put a bunch of rules in place to avoid impropriety and even the appearance of impropriety. Then Tom Delay and his ilk decided that the ends justified the means in creating a perpetual republican majority. And they threw out all the rules they put in place that they had previously put in place to mitigate the corruptive nature of power.

D’s will be subject to the same pushes and pulls, and will succumb if allowed to become complacent.

If D’s learn that the true path to a perpetual majority is honest competent governance, they, and the nation will be better for it.

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, that’s not bloody likely.

So after 6 years of trying to get D’s back in power, I will vote them right back out in a second if they use their majority for anything other than it’s intended use.

But for now, I am happy to have the last rascals gone, and perhaps the best government is a new government.

Unfortunately, from a blogging perspective, I may not be that much fun since I won’t be nearly as interested in defending any stupid things that Dem’s do like the folks around here did for the R’s.

But that’s okay, there will plenty of folks willing to do that.

Oh, and by the way, I do expect to be proven right that our new divided government will govern better than our old monopoly government.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Sometimes you pick a line from a song just becasue it sounds good, but this is actually what Pete Townsend was writing about in "won’t get fooled again".

Putting new people in charge of a corrupt system will result in (drum roll please).....more corruption. If the people in charge now have the power to abuse the people in general, giving new people the same power will get the same result. This was the case in 1994 and will be the same in 2006.

The United States Congress, and other government bureauecrats control one of the most valuable commodities on the planet: The power of coercion backed by a legitimate and real threat of violence. The market price for that commodity is way more than an any politician or bureauecrat can resist. I would find it more astonishing if there ever was a politician that wasn’t corrupt.

And corruption doesn’t mean money changes hands either. What could be more corrupt than running on a platform that included term limits and then continually running for re-election? Every congressman who signed the "Contract with America" who is still in office is a corrupt liar.

How about John Mcain who used to be the country’s biggest critic of Ethanol ( I believe he used the word boondoggle), now that he has to run an early primary in Iowa, guess what? He thinks its a vital option for energy independence.

My personal favorite is Spencer Abraham who as part of the "Contract with America" introduced a bill in the Senate to close down the department of Energy (it didn’t pass). A few years later when he was voted out of office he was given a pity appointment as the head of the Department of Energy where he (drum roll please) presided over a 100% increase in that departments budget.

Democrats are just as bad if not worse but the difference is that I expect them to be corrupt. At one time I thought Republicans were above all that. I was "fooled again".
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
The value in tossing the bums lies in reminding them that they can be tossed. If you think that the "culture of corruption" will go away if only we’d elect the Right People, then you lost the plot long ago. they were never serious about getting rid of the corruption...they just wanted a piece of it. Until you change the underlying incentives, the story will stay the same
.

The whole "culture of corruption" meme was solely based on disenchanting GOP supporters against the GOP. The rank and file of Democrat voters don’t care about corruption at all when it’s their guys. They rallied around Clinton. Bob Memendez got elected in NJ. Alan Hevesi got elected Comptroller in NYC despite stealing services from the city. Barely a word against Harry Reids shady land deal. William Jefferson not drummed out.

But ABRAMOFF is the devil!

Still, I look forward to the GOP using the Kos-approved Dem playbook they’ve compiled for the last 6 years and I sure hope the first time they can yell about some trumped-up issue, the hue and cry for speaker Pelosi to resign starts up.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
Oh, and by the way, I do expect to be proven right that our new divided government will govern better than our old monopoly government.
So Cap, I assume this means you’ll support the GOP in the Presidential race, not wanting a monopoly govt. and all.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
Somehow, this would have come across as more sincere if written instead to Republicans, in 1998, 2000, 2002, or 2004.
 
Written By: Rick Day
URL: http://goplobby.org
So Cap, I assume this means you’ll support the GOP in the Presidential race, not wanting a monopoly govt. and all.
Yes, I have already mentioned this is several threads.

I do expect to be supporting a Republican candidate for President.

Just please, not Jeb.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Until you change the underlying incentives, the story will stay the same.

But when you try to change the underlying incentives, angry conservatives will hate you for the rest of your life for "trampling on the first amendment", because they’re angry about the losing semipermanent structural advantages they had under the old, corruption-tolerant system.

(John McCain, despite all of them lame things he’ll be doing between now and 2008, still a basically honest man.)

And libertarians agree with them, and claim that the only way to change the incentives are to adopt their proposal for shutting down vast swathes of not-inherently-corrupt government functions repeatedly endorsed by the electorate...
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Oh, hey, welcome back! As you can see, all the usual complaints have been carefully preserved and arranged within your old blogspace, just like you remember them! Cheers!
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
(John McCain, despite all of them lame things he’ll be doing between now and 2008, still a basically honest man.)
I guess that the other members of the Keating 5 are basically honest men. So is OJ Simpson, by that logic.
But when you try to change the underlying incentives, angry conservatives will hate you for the rest of your life for "trampling on the first amendment",
The underlying incentives have to do with wielding governmental power. Lessen the power of government, you’ll lessen the temptation to lobby those within it.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
The underlying incentives have to do with wielding governmental power. Lessen the power of government, you’ll lessen the temptation to lobby those within it.
Exactly. Corruption results from a government (and the idividuals who run it) given too much power. People have every right to spend their money however they please and express their political opinions freely. It is the fundamental basis of a free society. It’s the first friggin’ sentence in the Bill of Rights, something American "liberals" used to think was a good thing, at least back when they thought their ideas could win a majority of the votes.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
"at least back when they thought their ideas could win a majority of the votes. "

And don’t EVEN start to say that’s what happened last week. Take a look at how many Democrats won by sounding like 1994 Republicans. No one was running on gun control. Bob Casey was ever so careful to point out he was pro-life.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Somehow, this would have come across as more sincere if written instead to Republicans, in 1998, 2000, 2002, or 2004.
I’ve written posts similar to this many times in the past. I took a lot of flak for refusing to vote for Bush in ’04 on similar grounds.
Just please, not Jeb.
Doubt there’s much chance of that. He’d have been far, far better than George W, though. Of course, that’s a very low bar.
But when you try to change the underlying incentives, angry conservatives will hate you for the rest of your life for "trampling on the first amendment",
I believe the vast amounts of money sloshing through politics are a symptom, rather than a cause of the bad incentives and structural problems. McCain-Feingold, aside from being a real intrusion on free speech, is akin to trying to pass a law to prevent water from running downhill. (or illegal immigrants from crossing the border for economic opportunity) You can wish in one hand and spend a billion dollars with the other, and all you’ll have is debt, two empty hands and the same problems.

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Just please, not Jeb
LOL i think the nation is ready for a president who isn’t a Bush or a Clinton
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
I believe the vast amounts of money sloshing through politics are a symptom, rather than a cause of the bad incentives and structural problems.
Agreed. People don’t enter politics (at least initially) for the monetary rewards. They enter for power.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Agreed. People don’t enter politics (at least initially) for the monetary rewards. They enter for power.
I always thought they entered politics to try and make the world, or at least the country, a better place. Then it turns into a fundraising job and they get told that the party leadership won’t give them money if they don’t become a dolt like the ones that are already there.

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I always thought they entered politics to try and make the world, or at least the country, a better place.
That may be one of the most naieve things I have ever heard, "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" was a fairy tail, not a documentary. I’m not even sure 10 year olds believe stuff like that.

Most people go into politics because they like telling other people what to do. Of course most of them are also arrogant enough to believe that they know what is best for everybody else, so telling them what to do is actually doing the world a favor. So you’re kind of right.......
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
DeLay should have been removed from his post in 02. Not because he was a crook (which has yet to be proved) but because he was a liberal liar. He probbly is a crook and 12 years ago he was a conservative. But since 01 he has been a liar and a liberal who hurt the GOP very much with his lies. Another reason Denny was bad.
 
Written By: Rodney A Stanton
URL: http://
Agreed. People don’t enter politics (at least initially) for the monetary rewards. They enter for power.
I always thought they entered politics to try and make the world, or at least the country, a better place.
It’s the same thing. As has been said before, the worst tyrant is a do-gooder. People who want to ’change the world’ in government are necessarily looking for power.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Amen, Jon.

C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist, once wrote:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
It’s true enough that some people do enter government service with the idea of doing good for "the people"— my late father was one of them, entering the federal civil service in his middle thirties in 1962. By the middle ’70s he was disillusioned, and was reduced to hanging on grimly until his retirement a dozen years later. Oh, the stories he could have told you... Suffice it to say that it’s a wonder that Uncle Sugar gets anything done at all, given the incompetence, ignorance, and dereliction that goes on in high places in the bureaucracy. And we’re supposed to look to these people for help with ordinary everyday things, even too trust these people with our very lives, as with Hillarycare? Jeez....
 
Written By: Hale Adams
URL: http://
Nice post.

Lord Acton was quite the best on this topic, with his "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely", and his better but less well known: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern".

Before the election I thought, and I still think that voting Republican in spite of their corrupt culture just because they weren’t as bad as the other guys was a dumb strategy. If the mule isn’t clobbered with a vote-out-the-jerks 2x4 every once in a while, then nothing changes.

So the Democrats get power for two years - BFD. If Pelosi/Reid/Rangel/Kennedy/Conyers let it go to their heads and impeach Bush and raise taxes, then 2008 goes the other way and maybe the Republicans govern with a little integrity for 4 or 5 years. What’s so bad about that?
 
Written By: Anarchus
URL: http://
That may be one of the most naieve things I have ever heard,
So you’re kind of right.......
Duality issues?

I will offer this, I believe that most people that enter politics for the best of reasons rarely ascend to the highest circles of power.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
It’s the same thing. As has been said before, the worst tyrant is a do-gooder. People who want to ’change the world’ in government are necessarily looking for power.
I think this conclusion is generally true, but not the premise.

What about people who go into politics with the express goal of limiting government’s power, people like Ron Paul who vote against expanding the government at every opportunity and vote for shrinking government whenever the opportunity arises?

Somewhere along the line, you have to face it, the government necessarily has THE power, if it didn’t, then other forces would fill the void and be the defacto government. Think about company towns of the period after the Industrial Revolution, the government in these places WAS the corporation and they ruled with all the gusto of an out of control government.

Then we move to federal power, if you eliminate federal power, you necessarily increase local power, and we are all aware of the abuses and corruption endemic to local power, often far worse than anything the fed has done.

Limiting power is like people’s argument against campaign finance reform, if you plug a hole on the dyke, another will spring forward.

Frequent change may be out best chance to limit government, if they don’t get entrenched, they can’t screw us as badly.
So the Democrats get power for two years - BFD. If Pelosi/Reid/Rangel/Kennedy/Conyers let it go to their heads and impeach Bush and raise taxes, then 2008 goes the other way and maybe the Republicans govern with a little integrity for 4 or 5 years. What’s so bad about that?
I agree, and am prepared to vote that way if the new Dem majority screws the pooch. But I am hopeful that they will do a good job, and certain they will do a better job than the R’s. But not so partisan they get my vote no matter what. What is the excuse for the people who voted R this past election?

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Has anyone noticed that political science, then law, seems to be the preferred education track for prospective apparatchiks? An argument can be made, I suppose, that lawyers are a necessity, but political "scientists"? If we did away with political science departments perhaps there would be an improvement. Or at least less environmental noise pollution and more shelf space available at book storesfor other worthy subjects such as phrenology, and certainly less abuse of the word "science".
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
If we did away with political science departments
Hey now, I have a BA in Poli-Sci and suggest that if you don’t have one, you don’t what is studied. It’s not all about winning elections and triangulation, it’s about history and policies. I submit that Marketing MBA’s in politics (domore damage by far.

At least Political scientists don’t study how to convince people crap is gold.

I am being facetious here, anyone can lie, cheat, and steal from the American people, it’s not what people study, it is their principals that determine the course of their career.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Captain Sarcastic writes:
Then we move to federal power, if you eliminate federal power, you necessarily increase local power, and we are all aware of the abuses and corruption endemic to local power, often far worse than anything the fed has done.
True enough, Captain, but most people miss the point of decentralization: if local power is corrupt, at least you can move someplace else to get away from it. If you don’t like how things are done in Maryland, you can move to Wyoming. But if the federal government is corrupt, how do you get away from it without leaving the country and even giving up your American citizenship?

That’s why taking power away from Uncle Sam is a good idea. Yeah, Cousin Bob (soon to be Cousin Martin) in Annapolis might become all the more corrupt and dictatorial as a result, but he can’t touch you in Pennsylvania.
 
Written By: Hale Adams
URL: http://
So the Democrats get power for two years - BFD

It’s a big deal to our troops in Iraq, who (I’m told by friends serving there who have emailed me) figure they’ve just been betrayed.

I’m not sure they’re wrong.
 
Written By: true
URL: http://
The ultimate source of corruption in democracy is clear ... We The People — who vote, consistently and often, to receive costly gov’t benefits which we expect to be paid for with Other People’s Money. As long as recipients of gov’t cash can get "free money", there will be corruption problems over who decides who gets the free money.


In the computer age, we need a new social contract — so that people "who need help" can still get it, from the gov’t, but using their own money instead.

Tax Loans.

So that individuals who get gov’t cash get a loan, with a promise to pay it back thru taxes and additional loan payments.

Full budget clarity in a gov’t website with drill down Excel budgets available to see how it’s spent (except for Defense?).
 
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
URL: http://tomgrey.motime.com
The reason that politicians tend to be corrupt is because of the psychology of power.

It all boils down to what makes you happy. If feeding the poor, curing deseases, or turning ignorant children into learned adults gives you the warm fuzzy inside, you may want to go into politics to achieve those ends, but there are other ways to get your warm fuzzy.

If you get your warm fuzzy by having power over other people, by being important, you have exactly one avenue: Politics.

Consequently, the slings and arrows of political office soon wear down people who are in it for anything but power. But for those who want power, politics is the only way to go. The end result is that people who don’t really want power punch out, and those who live for nothing else stay the course.

Add to this the fact that the desire for power, as an end in itself, is inherently irrational. However, honesty (and all other virtues) are rational. Therefore those who seek politics tend to be the least worthy of trust.

Power does not necessarily corrupt, but it necessarily attracts those who are most easily corrupted.
 
Written By: John VanSickle
URL: http://
It’s a big deal to our troops in Iraq, who (I’m told by friends serving there who have emailed me) figure they’ve just been betrayed.
They were, on March 18th, 2003.

The American people have tried to punish their betrayers.

If someone is trying to pass a different message to our troops, they must hate them.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I believe the vast amounts of money sloshing through politics are a symptom, rather than a cause of the bad incentives and structural problems. McCain-Feingold, aside from being a real intrusion on free speech, is akin to trying to pass a law to prevent water from running downhill. (or illegal immigrants from crossing the border for economic opportunity) You can wish in one hand and spend a billion dollars with the other, and all you’ll have is debt, two empty hands and the same problems.

I believe you believe it, Jon. But most problems of human dynamics are exactly the same. Trying to prevent the outbreak of violent international conflict is like preventing water from running downhill. For much of the world, preventing massively painful cyclic economic semi-collapse is like preventing water from running downhill. Trying to cure major diseases is like trying to prevent water from running downhill, as new ones outbreak faster than you can cure them.

None of the above means that you can’t change the overall balance of behavior for the better by tweaking laws and incentives. You know better, and I know you know better. That’s the incremental progress that is so easily disparaged by so many, but can, will, and has been responsible for the US’s form of capitalism from acting like Argentina’s or Russia’s. You want to see money sloshing through politics? It can get a lot worse. McCain-Feingold took an active step forward in effectively decentralizing political and media control in our system, and everyone should be proud of it. It didn’t end corruption, of course. Further.. regulations.. (shock!) will be needed to keep up that fight.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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