I have seen firsthand the destruction that an out of control industry can cause. You can point to this on many different fronts and examples. Whether we are discussing oil and gas development, the pharmaceutical industry, or Monsanto, there is one thing in common and that is that they’ve captured the government to some extent. While these examples are ones that everyone has heard of because of their size, these are just the tip of the iceberg. For profit companies have been given the right to condemn land, poison you, or are handed your tax dollars in subsidies or other kickbacks. Unfortunately, this capture happens at all levels of government, some refer to this as crony capitalism. However, all of these examples are merely a symptom, the root of all of these problems is the corruption of our political system.
It is much more emphasized at the federal level, when you see a well-spoken lawyer or insurance salesman head off to Washington. While they may have made a decent living hustling life insurance or defending DUIs, they all of a sudden become multi-millionaires, flying around on private jets, going to exotic locations for vacations at the expense of their “donors”. While this may be more publicized this same sort of activity takes place at your state and local levels. Unfortunately, these levels are highly overlooked by the populace and the organizations that are supposed to regulate these activities. Therefore, the corruption goes unnoticed, either that or we’ve just become numb to it.
I have served in local government for 7 of the last 11 years, 4 years, when I didn’t serve, I was active at the state level. Unfortunately, even over this short period of time, I have noticed a dramatic decrease in accountability and transparency at the local and state levels. Whenever, I first became a public official in 2005, I went to all of the newly elected official seminars. These seminars told you what a conflict of interest was, and also what you should and should not use your public office to do. Of course you should never use your office to personally benefit you. However, this paradigm has been shifting considerably over the last ten years, as the definition of “personally benefit you” has shifted. Therefore, this term no longer means what you think it means.
You often hear politicians brag about their sacrifices for their public service. They will claim it’s cost them an astronomical amount of money, or took so much of their time, etc. However, in many cases, any benefit to taxpayers or citizens is incidental to the agenda of the politicians. They don’t mind helping the citizens as long as it helps their agenda. These are the ones that fell quickly to the influence of big money and cronyism.
This corruption has went from subtle to being very obvious. With 10-15 percent of the population that actually votes, and even smaller amount that actually knows who their voting for, there is no accountability at the polls. When I was running for office last year, I noticed that most people have just given up. They vote for who they think will represent them, and then they turn out to be the same as the last guy, so they give up. Most people have more interest in Dancing with the Stars than they did the last election. Heck most people don’t even know who their city councilman is, much less a state official.
This is one reason I support term limits. Some argue that the process is in place works; however, in many cases the only time an incumbent state official leaves office is when they do something so bad that no one can turn a blind eye, or they piss off the establishment and they drum up some charges that get them voed out of office. Otherwise they are elected for life.
There was a courageous politician that stated once, that they will give you whatever you want. You want money, they’ll give it to you. You want women, they’ll get them for you. You want your name on a school, they’ll make sure it happens. So for many it isn’t about what right or wrong, or even what their citizens want. It’s about their own wealth and power, and they truly represent the people who give them that, not smucks like me and you. We know all of this is true, but why don’t we do something about it?