Too Late!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Over at Fresh Bilge, Alan Sullivan points to a rather lengthy story about one David Rubin, whose occupation in government finance has landed him in hot water for "conspiracy, wire fraud and obstructing federal tax authorities." Sullivan remarks, "The more money that government hands out, the more opportunities for corruption multiply." True enough, but this fire rates more than one alarm, and this shouldn't have been the first: The time to complain about corruption is whenever central planning of any kind is proposed or implemented.

I haven't finished the story and am not sure I will, but two things strike me as worth bringing up. First, the story is as long as it is in part because of the byzantine financial regulations it has to explain, and that make the David Rubins of the world possible -- both in terms of creating a need for people willing to navigate said regulations and in terms of these regulations representing a space at the public trough. I note further that many measures are already in place to prevent earning "too much" profit in these transactions, while at the same time it is absurd to expect municipal investments to grow without compensating the investors.

Second, I am unimpressed by the $6 billion estimate of the annual cost to taxpayers reported to be due to "public corruption, officials' mistakes and lack of disclosure." Every billion is only about three dollars per head in America. This is chump change compared to the enormous existing price tag for central planning at the federal, state, and local levels -- more commonly and variously known as "entitlement programs," "regulations," and "infrastructure." This "non-corrupt" tab is set to expand by trillions on Barack Obama's watch -- after George W. Bush got the ball rolling in 2008 with his financial "bailouts."

Certainly, I do not condone corruption, which would exist (albeit on a much more limited scale) even under capitalism. However, for the same reason I oppose the focus on reducing "earmarks" at the Congressional level, I find that concerns about corruption too frequently and easily distract from the real problem, which is that too many Americans regard theft as legitimate when performed by government officials in the name of central planning. The reason for this is the widespread acceptance of altruism, which excuses such theft on moral grounds.

Unsurprisingly, altruism -- being impossible to practice consistently by anyone interested in remaining alive -- demands its own version of corruption on the moral level: hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, too, is wrong, but too many people for too long have allowed that breach between words and deeds to distract them from asking whether altruism itself is a moral problem.

That would kill two birds with one stone.

-- CAV


robert verdi said...

pretty much everything you want to know about cdr, the banks, the politicians and black box deals.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

I must add, however, that I take issue with the idea that McCain or Palin are "leaders whose vision of reform, prosperity, and freedom will keep this nation strong."

McCain and Palin both support massive government regulation of the economy, though perhaps on a smaller scale than Obama. Because of that, while I understand and sympathize on one level with people who voted for them in the last election, the fact is that there was no opportunity in that election to vote for a leader who would do anything of consequence to rid of of the welfare state.

Currently, the only productive way to restore American freedom is to work to change minds within the electorate so that we gradually reach the point where such a "choice" will not be foisted on us again because politicians will know that continuting to support the welfare state is a sure way to lose votes.

Until that point, I am likely to stay home, because I refuse to cast a meaningless vote between Obama and Obama lite.


Mo said...

so true. the culture really has to change and people should understand that their needs do not justify violating other people's rights. until that day comes i will be busy educating and being productive for my own success.

Gus Van Horn said...

You remind me why it was actually better that Obama was elected than McCain, and it bears repeating:

If Obama were dictate where who could build an oil pipeline, most people would seem him, correctly, as a statist. But when Sarah Palin did exactly this, she was praised for "taking on" "big oil."

At least issues like that are clear for a few years now.