Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Corruption is the key

Bill Curry penned a compelling piece in Salon.
Our government is so corrupt it is odious even in the eyes of patriots. In a Gallup poll measuring reputations of professions, nurses finished first; 80 percent judged their integrity to be high. Members of Congress finished last at 7 percent, a full 14 percent behind lawyers. Even these numbers don’t capture the depth of public anger. If the anger turns to cynicism millions will walk away from politics. Millions already have. If it finds a voice we may have an Arab Spring of our own, maybe as soon as 2016. If so, the less-prepared party will be blown away. As things stand now, that would be the Democrats.
However, Curry thinks the problem goes way beyond the Democrats. The Republicans, of course, are just as culpable but don't give a damn about corruption in government because they're not interested in good government. But it's not just the overtly political establishment: he holds up the New York Times' ethically-challenged decision to "partner" with the author of Clinton Cash as an example of the "soft corruption" that the sociopolitical elite considers acceptable.

As long as corruption is acceptable, society pays — in dollars and in that quaintly old-fashioned conceit, "moral fiber". Curry's prescription:

The only way to put ethics where it belongs, at the center of the political debate, is for progressives to mount a full-bore, grass-roots anti-corruption campaign.
But he wants us not to focus on Citizens United and campaign finance, but on how government is run. His specific proposals, which start with a number of unkept Obama promises, emphasize transparency. They're good proposals, but they don't address the problem that not enough people pay attention to the process. Surveillance cameras don't deter crime if the criminals know nobody's watching.

We, the people, have to be engaged enough in our own governance to keep an eye on it.

(Most of us don't have the time or energy to be so engaged. How do we fix that? I think it will be a combination of inculcating civic virtue in each person, and rethinking the safety net so as few of us as possible are too wrapped up in making ends meet to do anything more.)

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