Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If It’s Legal Is It Still a Bribe?

I like our local paper. Mostly it’s harmless; sometimes it’s funny; but occasionally it captures things just the way they are. This was the case last week.

Whether it was carelessness, a blunt political statement, or a dark sense of humor that made the editor put the two articles side by side, the result is sinister: those who give money get regulation bent in their favor. This is true in our local town, in the state, and no doubt in Washington. There it is much worse.

While it might seem natural to those educated in a system whose education policy makers will not dare upset those whose money help them become policy makers in the first place, in most countries this behavior is unlawful. In China it warrants the capital punishment.

There are many moral and sociological reasons why the rich should not be allowed to bend laws in their favor – at least not bluntly and directly. This is an unstoppable slope that leads to a society where the rich are above the law and the poor are slaves – a typical third world country.

As we have seen here in recent years, once a law favors a group, it become easier for group to ensure that future laws will favor them as well, making them richer and even more powerful in their ability to have laws bent in their favor. The number of rich decreases, yet they become more powerful. The poor become poorer, their numbers increase but they are stripped of power. Haven’t we seen it here already?

This was Europe in the 1700s, the place that the father of America escaped from to build a better society. It took 300 years, but now, at last, it seems that the ills of 1700 Europe are catching up. With eyes wide shut we are stepping towards what we escaped from. Will it be too late when we wake up?

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