Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What have they got to lose?

I am trying to get a few Senators and Representatives to step up and pick a fight over ending the culture of corruption.

So far, I have not heard from 41 Senators, and 69 Representatives.

Senator Rod Adair has stepped up; he is willing to sign his name on the call for an Extraordinary Session of the Legislature, whose sole call is to do whatever can be done to make it impossibly difficult for politicians and public servants to escape accountability for their corruption and incompetence.

I am engaged in an off the record discussion with one Representative. He is concerned about;

  • the likelihood that enough legislators will actually step up, and sign the petition for a call, and
  • the likelihood that the mission will be subverted by those who will take advantage of the "open-endedness" of an Extraordinary Session,by flooding it with legislation, resolutions, and memorials that are not germane to ending public corruption and incompetence, and that
  • any attempt to pick this fight, if unsuccessful, will be used against those who pick it, in their next election, and finally,
  • the argument that is as old as it is specious, "you can't legislate ethics in people."
On the last point I agree, but then that is not the intention of legislation creating ethical standards and enforcing them, any more than the point of legislation creating legal standards and then enforcing them, has the intent of making people law abiding (in their hearts).

Whether a person is law abiding or not, whether they are ethics abiding or not, is an entirely separate issue from whether or not we can create meaningful standards of conduct and competence, and then hold them accountable when they are not.

The Representative also expressed the belief that the corruption and incompetence can be ended by working within the process. I reminded him that working within the process did not prevent the culture of corruption from emerging, has not prevented it from being brought to an art form, and it has done precious little to mitigate it, much less end it.

Until a way can be found to end a culture of corruption without individually exposing the corrupt, (wo/men of great privilege and power) it will not end. They will never act to expose their own corruption and incompetence. They will never hold themselves honestly accountable for their own conduct and competence. It would utterly defy everything we know to be true about human nature, in particular, about human weakness.

It is this, that Socrates was writing about when he first penned; "absolute power, corrupts absolutely."

If we work "within the system", any corruption ending legislation, if among its effect would be the individual exposure of the corrupt and the incompetent, will die in Senator Linda Lopez' Senate Rules Committee, like every one before.

It borders upon delusional, to suppose that it will be different in the next session. The system cannot be repaired from within. It was Albert Einstein who pointed out
"The significant problems we have cannot be solved
at the same level of thinking with which we created them."
The next level above "the system" is the people.

The people have the ability to end the culture of corruption,
politicians and public servants do not.

If this falls through, and Adair is the only one who steps up,
what price will he pay for having been so bold?
Will his opponent in the next election, point to this commitment and somehow use it against him?

How? Does his opponent really say, vote for me, not for him, because he once signed a call to create an Extraordinary Session , the sole purpose of which was to end the Rot in the Roundhouse?

Or will he shunned by those legislators who would rather continue their culture of power and privilege in government, a culture that enables all of the corruption and incompetence to prevail?

The real question is;
could legislators move us from national laughing stock, to shining example of transparently accountable government, even if they wanted to?
If they can't, if they haven't the character or the competence,
then we need a whole new bunch of legislators who can.

If you concede that the answer is yes, they can end it
if they want to, the next question begged is;
why won't they?

What have they got to lose?

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