Archive for the ‘Jefferson’ Category

Does the bailout spree signal the end of democracy?

December 22, 2008

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship….

“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

These words – the author is unknown – are particularly sobering today. In the past few months, Uncle Sam has bailed out Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, home-owners, banks, and US automakers, while the incoming administration promises a massive infrastructure investment.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Is it any surprise that cities, counties, and states are jostling for space at the federal trough? Who’s next? Big Media? Big Sports? Agribusiness?

By Randy Salzman
Christian Science Monitor

With the bailout “mother of all precedents,” it’s become difficult for Washington politicians to say “no” to any special interest that’s too massive, too economically important, or too well connected to fail.

Nor can politicians forget the poor. Or the crucial swing voters in the “struggling middle class.” And they can’t ignore seniors – AARP members are very vocal.

Virtually every group today is trying to meet with the Obama transition team to convey the urgency of its “crucial” spending requests. My local paper recently informed me that our area university is preparing its wish list for infrastructure dollars. Even the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Sportfishing Association have sent pitches to President-elect Obama.

Have we gone from “rugged individualism” to the complacency or even dependency of the national trajectory quoted above?

At the time of America’s founding, the Federalist Papers discussed the dangers of democratic politicians being forced to count on the votes and support of citizens or organizations too self-involved or uneducated to realize that short-term individual or group gain often precludes long-term prosperity.

And Thomas Jefferson sought to deal with politicians’ catering to their constituents’ convenience by founding the University of Virginia (UVA). He wanted an informed, intelligent, and thoughtful population in hopes of helping democracy survive. Today, sadly, UVA is the area university I read about in the paper seeking funds for its infrastructure wish list.

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Most Corrupt State? Illinois Rivals Louisiana

December 12, 2008

If there was a Super Bowl for corruption, Illinois might have to play Louisiana.  


Take that, Louisiana.  

Revelations this week that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich  and his chief of staff have been charged with trying to sell the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama have sparked a perverse debate over which state is the nation’s most corrupt, with partisans rushing to defend the (dis)honor of their native lands.

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times

Popular liberal blogger Josh Marshall of triggered a firestorm when he suggested that Illinois, Louisiana and newcomer Alaska were the clear front-runners, as outraged residents of New Jersey, Nevada, Arizona and other contenders weighed in.

“Who could leave Rhode Island off the list of most corrupt states?!!” poster “JP” demanded. “This is defamatory!! Ocean Staters will NOT be insulted in this way!!”

But New Orleans poster “BB” said no “wannabe” state could compete with Louisiana’s heritage of political vice, from legendary governors such as Huey Long and Edwin Edwards to indicted and just-defeated Rep. William J. Jefferson, a Democrat whom prosecutors accuse of stashing $90,000 in illicit funds in his freezer.

Rep. William J. Jefferson, who has been charged with money laundering, was asked about "$90,000 in a freezer" during a taped interview with the Young America's Foundation.

Above: Rep. William J. Jefferson, who has been charged with money laundering, was asked about “$90,000 in a freezer”

“Louisiana will let any state in the union pick the turf and the time,” BB wrote.

“You want state-level corruption? Local? Bring it. Historical tradition? Game on. Recent scandal? Easy money. You name the category, any category, and we’ll have a big dog in that fight.”

Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, said the Illinois vs. Louisiana smackdown is akin to a Big Ten vs. SEC clash in college football’s Bowl Championship Series.

“If there was a BCS for corruption, I think right now you’d have to put Illinois in the title game,” he said. “They’re showing why they’re a true contender.”

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