Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanks, Blago, for being honest about government

When I say that Ilinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is honest, I don't mean that he's an upstanding individual. I just mean that, if early reports that he auctioned off Barack Obama's old seat in the U.S. Senate to the highest bidder are true, he dispensed with pretense and revealed the business of government to be a corrupt and seamy one, comparable to any other criminal enterprise. In selling that legislative position just before Barack Obama takes office as a president on a wave of proposals for active, intrusive government, Blagojevich has provided a valuable warning to the public as to the nature of the metastasizing government we're about to let ever-further into our lives.

According to the New York Times:

As Mr. Blagojevich mulled the Senate appointment, prosecutors say, he discussed gaining “a substantial salary” at a nonprofit foundation or organization connected to labor unions, placing his wife on corporate boards where she might earn as much as $150,000 a year and trying to gain promises of campaign money, or even a cabinet post or ambassadorship, for himself.

A 76-page affidavit from the United States Attorney’s office in Northern Illinois says Mr. Blagojevich was heard on wiretaps over the last month planning to “sell or trade Illinois’ United States Senate seat vacated by Pres-elect Barack Obama for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife.”

Bravo, Mr. Blagojevich. Even the densest, most starry-eyed political groupie in the country will have a hard time disregarding a move so overtly corrupt and self-serving by a close political ally of the president-elect. The award of Obama's seat could only have been more arrogant (if less lucrative) had the governor emulated Caligula and appointed a horse to the position.

This is our insight into the government that promises to set things right during a time of financial crisis, supposedly through well-reasoned, carefully crafted policy proposals and vast, additional powers utilized only, we're assured, with our best interests in mind. And those policies and powers will be implemented through government agencies helmed by President Obama, a man whose former office was sold to the highest bidder.

But Blagojevich's service doesn't stop there. He also demonstrated the dangers of allowing government to intertwine itself in the private sector with bailouts and subsidies. As the Chicago Tribune reported:

Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.

There you have it: an unmistakeable lesson that government officials will use financial leverage to extract concessions for themselves, and even to muzzle critics in the press.

What personal favors do you think are being purchased with the hundreds of billions of dollars the government has allocated for the financial industry and the billions more for the Big Three automakers? Is there still doubt in your mind that the money comes, quietly, with strings attached?

If Blagojevich were a live-action museum exhibit about the dangers and flaws of government, created by a libertarian foundation, he could not be more venal, or more effective at communicating what we can expect from government officials anytime there's money or political advantage to be had from the misuse of their power.

But he's a real politician, caught doing what an unknown number of his colleagues have always done behind the scenes. We should thank him for his honesty, and take the lesson he offers to heart.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

file this comment under "if i could wave a magic wand i'd..." make the DEA vanish and replace it with a new agency i would call "HEAP" the "Honesty Enforcement Agency for Politicians", i would give them the same amount of money flushed down to DEA and their orders would be to focus on federal and state politicians. they would have random inspections of every politicians financial records and have the authority to wire tap and bug any politicians home or business at any time without a court order. there would be only one crime they would be charged with if found to be a crook and that would be treason and the only punishment given out would be the firing squad. the head of the agency would be elected not appointed.....hey! i can dream can't i!

December 10, 2008 4:38 PM  

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