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Corruption is quite bipartisan

It is a great shame to see Randy Cunningham, a fighter ace who did sterling work over North Vietnam, descend into the cesspool of corruption like so many before him. My opinions of the man were already diminished by his blinkered views regarding the excesses of Serbian nationalism but to see this old warrior revealed as utterly corrupt is still deeply saddening.

It is equally revolting to see Democrats act as if this is the special preserve of the Republican Party rather than an endemic feature of the whole process of which they too are very much a part. Taxpayers for Common Sense has some rather more non-partisan views:

Keith Ashdown, of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, said Cunningham’s guilty plea hurts both parties. “There are very few things that I read that kick me in the gut. This is beyond my wildest guess of how bad it actually is — how bad, how long and how nobody knew about it,” said Ashdown. “I don’t think Democrats or Republicans win on this. It basically makes people detest Congress even more and deters voter turnout.”

In truth the only way to reduce corruption in high places is to have less high places and which party is on top makes very little difference.

9 comments to Corruption is quite bipartisan

  • Paul Marks

    Corruption is very bad, but it has sometimes been a defence against more rampent statism.

    As you know the main set of ideas (“ideology” if we must use the term) for many years in the United States has been statism.

    If Congress had really put through (for example) income tax rates of 90% of so (with no “loopholes” that certain Congressmen had been paid to put in) the economy would have collaped many decades ago.

    Also if every desire for regulations (by the media and academia inluenced process) had been faithfully put in to practice (with no bribes for a certain looseness in the wording here and there) the nation would also have collapsed long ago.

    Of course such exceptions and loopholes benefit the politically connected at the expense of their rivals (who they may be quite happy to see destroyed) – but the alternative was most likely that everyone was destroyed.

    In this case (the awarding of government contracts) there is no defence. Although it is an old practice – government contracts have often been awarded on the basis of bribes (in one way or another) since the first days of the Republic.

  • Joshua

    Canada will now have an election that was triggered by massive corruption, but will actually be about healthcare. It’s the perfect symbol of exactly how apathetic voters have become to this sort of thing (and I’m obviously not talking just about Canada here but voters around the globe). Stephen Harper can get a no-confidence motion passed on what everyone knows the Gomery Report will end up finding (I think they don’t actually release it unil February, but the Canadians onsite should correct me if I’m wrong about this), but the polls show that the voters are unlikely to be swayed by this. What they want is healthcare and more of it, and if Paul Martin can convince them they’ll get it (for “free”), he gets to stay on as PM – probably even with more seats than before.

    Corruption, in other words, gets lost in the shuffle. Something similar is true in just about every modern democracy on the planet. Very frustrating.

    Corruption can’t be fought – or at least, never very effectively. It’s there anytime there is a system available for abuse. I agree with Perry – the only way to keep it down is to have less “system” there to abuse.

    The irony of elections in Canada is that rather than being punished for the Liberals’ corruption (in fairness, Martin hasn’t been implicated in any of these scandals yet), Martin will probably end up being rewarded for it – because he will end up promising the average voter more spending and programs – i.e. more “system.” The candidate who wants to tear it all down will lose – apparently for not being “Canadian” enough…which is really just a Liberal codeword for being from Alberta and not believing in National Health.

  • JSAllison

    The only way I can see to reduce corruption in government, assuming for the moment that government continues to exist, is to reduce the amount of money available to the government. So perhaps what is needed is to INcrease marginal rates which should have the effect of reducing income. (This last meant only half-snarky)

  • mike

    A sad loss in some ways – but wasn’t Randy Cunningham the guy who wanted the Pentagon to buy yet more fighter planes (the F22) when the US military now relies more and more on drones?

  • Just John

    off-topic comment deleted: feel free to apply to be an editor of samizdata.net if you like.

  • Kim du Toit

    This is one issue where Democrats can’t really make too much political hay, for the simple reason that they’re caught accepting bribes more often than republicans are.

    Case in point: another decorated war hero who was found guilty of accepting bribes was Rep. Frank Murtha — the same guy who’s calling for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq.

    That was known as the “ABSCAM” scandal: six Democrats, one Republican got caught, and the FBI was told to stop the scam because of the growing number of Democrats facing exposure. (In those days, the Democrats controlled Congress, you see.)

  • veryretired

    One of the best practical reasons to severely limit the scope of governmental power to very specific areas of societal activity, and limit the funds at its disposal as well, as previously noted above, is the subsequent lessening of the potential for corruption.

    While humans are infinitely inventive at finding ways to fiddle the system, the less system there is, the less there is to steal.

  • JohnK

    A sad end to Cunningham’s career. Flying over North Vietnam in 1972, Cunningham and his Radar Intercept Officer Willie Driscoll shot down five MiGs, three in one day, 10th May. On the same day they bombed North Vietnamese targets, and were hit by a SAM; Cunningham managed to nurse their Phantom out to sea before they had to eject. They were picked up by a rescue helipcopter before North Vietnamese PT boats could get to them. Quite a day.

    Cunningham received the Navy Cross for his exploits that day, allied to the fact that with five kills he was the navy’s only Ace of the Vietnam War. Shame he had to go into the murky world of politics, but whatever has happened since, in 1972 the man showed that he was a hero. Let’s not forget that.