Archive for December, 2014

Tis The Season

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

John Boswell

Marvin Mostow

Jim Murphy

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Corruption

Corruption is a topic that certainly seems to be in vogue today. European governments, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, have governments in which manipulating votes, shifting money from accounts that would be difficult to manipulate to others from which money can be accessed for the pockets of representatives and administrators. China is reported to have large numbers of public service millionaires.

In this country, when I taught U S history in high school, I spent 2 or three days on corruption in northern cities such as New York and Philadelphia. My point was to show how once the public became informed about corruption in their government they rose up and threw the rascals out. Although I had served in the navy and considered myself pretty worldly wise, I had never lived in a city like the ones the Progressives had “cleaned up”. I have since learned that criminals like Al Capone were replaced by organizations such as the mafia that avoided publicity. Often, operating in the same environment as outright criminal organizations, were local governments that siphoned money out of the public coffers to spread around among the faithful to keep the leadership in office where they could siphon more money out for themselves.

At the national level, congressmen have long provided highways, contracts to cut lumber from public forests, money to develop harbors, etc, to show they were keeping their constituents in mind. In recent years, if they happen to sit on the right committees, they can help national organizations such as airlines and law firms to such an extent that they are certain of very well paid employment when they choose to retire.

Well, there is no need to belabor what is already obvious to the reader. Corruption is alive and very well in our country. I’m not even sure that high school history texts bother with Boss Crump any more. While there is out right dishonesty (criminal behavior) that is tackled by prosecutors in cities, vote trading by legislators (I’ll support your vote getting appropriation if you will support mine) is so common that it rouses very little public outcry.

For a social studies teacher of an earlier generation, it is depressing to see how little effect we had on contemporary political behavior.

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