Todays paper, filled as usual with holiday spirit, contains several examples of real corruption -- not the post-modern Common Cause kind that speaks of inchoate "access" or improper feelings of "gratitude" for political support.
No this is the good stuff, teachers union officials using Union dues funds for fur coats and Tiffany silver. LINK.
Or another installment in the continuing story of former Ill. Gov George Ryans administration, the exchange of bribes for licenses, then the use of that money for campaign contributions. LINK.
Theres also a story about a local investor who bilked numerous prominent Washingtonians out of their investment funds, including apparently columnist George Will. Unfortunately, I cant find the link on the WaPo web page.
Now Im no Blackstone, but my guess is that the conduct in these matter was prohibited at common law. Moreover, despite the fact that individuals still persist in this conduct, I do not see an uproar over the failure of our laws to "prevent" these bad acts, or the need for the federal government to take over areas traditionally governed by the states.
(Oops! Did I say something about States Rights? According to E.J. Dionne, I did. LINK).
Back to the point, it seems like we could recognize that some people are crooks, will commit crimes, and need to be apprehended and punished. That can be done without outlawing entire areas of legitimate activity - you can punish the extortionist, fund diverter, and defrauder without criminalizing investment advice, private unions, or political fundraising. Thatmy big thought for the season - happy holidays.
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