STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Is Good Government Corruption Free?
By Daily Bell Staff - December 11, 2015

The Silver-Skelos 'defense': Corruption is the way of Albany … How do you defend the indefensible? If you're former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, you do the same as your Assembly counterpart, Sheldon Silver: You don't. Like Silver, Skelos opted not to testify on his own behalf — likely realizing the jury wouldn't believe a word. – NewYorkPost

Dominant Social Theme: If we can get the corruption out of government, it will work better.

Free-Market Analysis: The New York Post has recently published several articles blasting the corruption in New York state and using the trials of Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver as examples of why the Albany political culture has to change.

Certainly, the arguments by Skelos don't add up. He basically argued, according to the Post, that he did nothing out of the ordinary, and that his actions were "business as usual" for Albany.

More:

… This was the gist of the closing argument from Skelos' lawyer Wednesday: What the prosecution calls bribery, extortion and conspiracy was just business as usual.

… The payoffs-for-power pattern is plainly the Albany way. If he keeps this up, US Attorney Preet Bharara can look at opening a probe of the whole Legislature under the racketeering laws.

Last month, the Post reported on "good government" groups that were proposing anti-corruption laws in the wake of the trial of Sheldon Silver. Former Assembly Speaker Silver was convicted at the end of November in a $5 million public-corruption case that the Post called "a stunning fall from power that exposed Albany's sleazy culture of influence-peddling — and showed that it reached to the top."

"Good-government groups," the Post reported, "demand stricter corruption laws …"

And the Post quoted Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey as saying, "For far too long state legislators in particular have used their public posts for private gain and have lined their pockets."

Dadey believes that the high-profile trials will provide impetus to pass laws that reform the Albany political process. The coalition calling for reform legislation includes Reinvent Albany, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of New York State. The idea is to limit legislative income and to generally make the legislature more transparent and responsive.

The trouble with demanding anti-corruption laws is that they may work for a while but over time they will cease to be helpful. History shows us this. Western governance generally is unwieldy, and the bigger the government the more problems it has.

Over at Natural News we find a post that provides further insight into the problems of modern governance – as it affects the US in particular. It actually updates a Pew survey that we commented on some time ago. See here.

Entitled, "Fully 80 Percent of Americans have lost trust in the government …" the post clearly shows that suspicions regarding government remain at an all-time high.

In this case, it is the federal government rather than state government. But the issues are certainly the same. Good government groups believe that "reform" can regenerate confidence in government but the Pew survey shows us that such hopes may be misplaced.

Only one-in-five still think government can solve all their problems … According to the latest poll from the Pew Research Center – which was based on 6,000 interviews – close to 80 percent of Americans severely distrust the U.S. government.

… The Pew Research Center states that "Currently, just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in the past half-century. Only 20% would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected officials are held in such low regard that 55% of the public says 'ordinary Americans' would do a better job of solving national problems."

The article suggests that part of the disillusionment of the average citizen is because "Life in America not what it used to be." And it points out that by most measures, lifestyles in the US are degrading.

There are some 15 million children living in poverty in the US, the article notes. Meanwhile, police violence has become a staple on the nightly news. "SWAT teams make their way down residential streets; uniformed individuals stand guard in areas that never required their ongoing presence; and people are running scared."

Changes to the healthcare system have also frustrated citizens, many of whom may face fines if they are unable to navigate – and afford – the new protocols of Obamacare.

Finally, the article makes an additional significant point: People don't trust the government, but surveys have found that increasingly people don't trust each other. This is predictable in the sense that the collapse of civil society is bound to yield these sorts of results. Whether it is state government or federal government – or sometimes local government – the problem is not "corruption" but government itself, especially big government.

The Pew survey clearly charts the unraveling of civility. When people feel personally harassed and helpless, they are likely to regard each other with suspicion, too. This is a trend that is not likely to subside. Societies tend to move forward not backward along predictable tracks. Reform may be tried but it is not usually a viable option in the long run because the system almost inevitably returns to its previous evolution. It seems, as we can see from the Pew survey, that "reforming" the system is not something many believe – with good reason – can be accomplished.

After Thoughts

As we often point out, it is better to concentrate on one's personal lifestyle and prospects than to try to reform what is not re-formable. Lifestyle insurance, living abroad and cultivating a maximum amount of individual freedom is a personal solution to the expanding authoritarianism and corruption of the modern state. To a degree you can control your personal circumstances, and surely that is where most should choose to start.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • DonRL

    Government officials should be servants of the people. Since people are moving from serving others to serving themselves and government is made up of people government must follow. Government has become self-serving. Rather than passing laws and governing to be of benefit to the people government has become so self-centered that it has little regard for the people and only regards them as vehicles (voters) to keep them in office so they can continue to gather more money and power for themselves. Deceive, lie to, oppress and strip rights from the people and make them dependent on government so they can be controlled, that seems to be the mantra of this generation of those who govern.
    Unless people change into serving and loving one another rather than being self-serving, where do we get people to govern as servants. Voters want government to serve them and their interests so the governors serve themselves while promising the governed what they want to hear. When they get in office it is the same old feeding at the trough of the public funds.
    The golden rule would suffice as a proper mantra : “Do unto others as you would that they do unto you”.

    • Read the excellent CONCLUSION offered by The Daily Bell!

      (Hint: You will find it at the end of the article.)

  • tom

    Why does this article speak only about Albany? It’s not just “the Albany way”, it’s “the Washington way”, “the New York way”, “the Chicago way”, and so on and on and on. In short, it’s the American way.

    • Quite true. Albany is simply the example used here …

  • autonomous

    The article is very good. I would have entitled it Is Good Government Possible, but that would no doubt offend the panty-waists who fear offending government spokesmen. I suspect that those who shy away from openly calling for anarchy either suspect that government is necessary or that the inevitable end of anarchy is self-destruction, which is just another way of saying that government is ultimately necessary. That is like saying that men are incapable of governing themselves individually, but in a group they are; the ultimate justification for socialism.

  • Government and ‘the state’ are different things. Government without being ‘the government of the state’ is a powerless association appointed by whoever to help regulate whatever but the initiation of force is not implied. I do not mind there being ‘stateless governments’ because I can freely decide if I associate myself with their provisions or not. What I object to is ‘the state’ and therefore their imposition of ‘government’. I object because ‘the state’ has no right to use the ‘initiation of force’ and without the initiation of force ‘the state’ would be powerless so therefore ceasing to exist (becoming a voluntary authority instead). A stateless government would, potentially, tend to be a ‘good government’ because, if it were not, it would soon be rejected and fail. A ‘state government’ cannot be a good government because it makes use of the ‘initiation of force’ to assert its edict and, therefore even when it is not supported, it is fully able to continue with its self-imposed mandate – it is virtually unstoppable. Corruption within elements of the ‘state government’ is but a single symptom of this defect – a non-state government would put a stop to the corruption urgently (in the knowledge that if it did not do so it would cause the rapid failure of its mandate of authority).

    • As you have used it, “stateless governments” is synonymous with “voluntary associations” such as Home Owner Associations, Kiwanis Clubs and insurance agencies. The term “stateless governments” obfuscates the true, intended meaning (voluntary association) and is a really bad choice.

      I highly recommend and encourage you to use “voluntary associations” instead.

      • I suppose so, in a way, and I do accept your, well made, point except that; I was specifically discussing (and considering) the term, (the word), ‘government’ here. A model kit builder’s association can have a governing body, so the term ‘government’ does (or should) have a meaning outside of the statist definition. But, like so much of our lexicon, we have to submit word after word until we will need to communicate with what, grunts?

  • Praetor

    Ordinary Americans. Ordinary defined, ‘of no special quality or interest, commonplace, unexceptional, somewhat inferior’! Well, it is named right, PEW survey. The survey maybe correct, but it highlights the attitude that is held by those who think they should have a voice in this country. If Ordinary Americans are unexceptional and somewhat inferior, what does that say about the politicians that, ‘I suppose are elected’ to office, it says they are way below unexceptional and somewhat inferior, which makes them a Slugs and Worms!!!

  • Godwin’s modified duck test

    C’mon guys, everyone is doing it!

    Every now and again we see politicians take the fall for corruption. However we know that they are all corrupt. We know that corruption is their business. While the politician’s line about how commonplace corruption is does not excuse him, it is accurate. If we accept corruption as so common, then it is more than likely that he was prosecuted for ulterior motives. Perhaps he opposed the wrong expenditures or supported the wrong regulations.

    If that is not enough to explain the decline of civil society and the lack of trust placed in institutions, we only need look towards the incredulous tone of his comments. The politician seems genuinely surprised that he could be prosecuted for his behavior. The people know there are multiple standards of justice. There is one for policemen and favored officials who are free to perjure themselves before the court. There is another standard for citizens and ill-favored officials. Legal outcomes are generally viewed as relating to the station of the accused and the offended, rather than a measure of justice which might adequately resolve the issue.

    If for whatever reason I were brought before a court, I would expect a merciless trial where my every statement would be misconstrued in the most malicious way permissible. If I were a policeman, I would expect to be able to lie freely about my own crimes or illegal methods of gathering evidence. It is easy to see how a minor politician of moderate to low cleverness might hold misplaced expectations which would allow him to be blindsided by an actual prosecution.

  • MetaCynic

    Is good torture pain free?

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