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Bit’s Greatest Hits; The Source of Corruption: Power

Editor notes: Originally posted 01/09/06

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One of the biggest problems I have in my garden is keeping the squirrels out of my bird feeder. The tehnological war between us and the squirells has gone to insane levels. But, nothing we do keeps them out; eventually, they figure a way around the security systems in place to get at the food. Eventually, I just took down the bird feeder. Darned rodents, anyway.

Even in the human world, security experts will tell you that there is no security system on the face of this planet, that cannot be broken down and bypassed by a determined criminal, no matter how high a wall you put up, no matter how many safeguards you put in place. If somebody’s determined to get by them, they will. Systemic answers to security simply do not work, in the end.

Well, just now, there’s a lot of chatter going around that suggests that the problems in American government that involve corruption can be solved by systemic changes. If we change the system to make it harder for people to commit crimes of corruption, the thinking goes, corruption won’t happen. Put up a bit of barbed wire here, a cone there. Hang the thing from the clothesline, perhaps, and the problems will, top.

This is an argument that seems to be finding a large welcome among the extreme libertarian community and among America’s left wing. By law, we’re told, we can make a better lawmaking process. But it’s not true. Like the squirells and the bird food, they’ll always find a way.

What is needed here is not a systemic change for government, but a role change for government.

British bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked why was the robbed banks. Sutton, of course responded; ” That’s where the money is. ” The squirells wouldn’t bother, either, if there wasn’t food to be had. By the same token, then, we have so much corruption in government these days, because that’s where the power is.

We have a government that has developed over the last 80 or 90 years (mostly under Liberal control) which has appointed itself the guardian and master of every aspect of American life private or public. With that kind of centralization of power there is certain to be some attempt to influence that power in one direction or another on any given topic. No amount of operational rules is going to change that basic fact. No law is going to prevent people from making the attempt and succeeding. The only way to eliminate the corruption in that process is to return the responsibility for all those questions and all those processes back to where they belong; As close to the individual as possible. Yes, I’m talking about handing power back to state and local governments and to (Gasp) the people again.

Think about just one of the many aspects of what the Federal government is taken over in our daily lives of late.. medicine. Before Johnson’s great society we never heard once about millions and millions of dollars being funneled at congressional campaigns by drug companies did we? Today, it’s simply the way it’s done. Then again, back in the day, we did not have government making every decision with regards to what doctor you’re going to see how much you are going to pay, and whether not the government could afford to give you the medicine that you need. You cared for that matter yourself, made those choices yourself.

The fact of the matter is, that corruption and the degree of it that we see in our government is directly connected to how much power the government hands. That’s always been the formula; it’s never going to change.

Changing how government works isn’t the answer. What has to change, is how much we demand of goverment.