Bill Totten's Weblog

Friday, January 20, 2006

They're Back

by Charley Reese

King Features Syndicate (January 11 2006)

Latin America is beginning to turn left, and you can't blame it. So-called globalization is nothing more than financial colonialism. Big capital comes in, exploits the people's labor, loots the country of its resources and leaves nothing behind except the bribes it paid the country's leaders to sell out their own people.

That's really what globalization is - all of the heifer dust spread about it by lickspittle journalists and professors notwithstanding. The same process is going on in the United States. The robber barons are back, and their morals haven't changed, only their tactics.

The corruption in Washington being exposed by lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea is just the tip of the dirty sheet. Don't expect the blanket to be pulled completely off the bed. If there is one thing the politicians in Washington know how to do, it is cover their own behinds.

The solution to corruption is always easy but never adopted. Members of Congress should be forbidden to accept any gifts, period. They should be forbidden to take any junkets, period. They should be forbidden to accept any fees for speaking. They should be forbidden to allow anyone to pay their travel expenses. They should be required to make detailed reports of all of their investments, right down to the nickel. It's amazing how many people who never in their lives showed any business acumen go to Congress and become millionaires because of "lucky" investments.

In short, if a man or woman wishes to be a representative or a senator, let that person live entirely on the inflated salary congressional members voted themselves. Campaign contributions, bank loans, investment opportunities and luxurious vacations or junkets, though legal, have become the modern form of bribery. It's much safer than the old cash-in-a-paper-sack method.

Some years ago, a friend who worked in a bank tipped me off about such a scheme. A politician holding a statewide office had gotten a $25,000 loan, but only because a wealthy crook doing time in a federal prison co-signed the note. Of course, the crook in prison paid off the note. Thus, $25,000 went from one crook to another crook via a bank loan that, but for my friend risking his job to give me a photocopy of the note, would never have been known by the public. And it was legal. What the politician did to "earn" his $25,000, I was never able to find out.

Corruption will only get worse unless the American people get angry. A politician who sells his vote for personal gain is really selling your vote and abusing your trust. He is no different than the thug who kicks down your door and robs you of cash. For example, why did Congress vote to forbid Medicare and Medicaid from bargaining with drug companies for lower prices? Every other country in the world does so. That's why drugs are cheaper in Canada than in the US. The answer is bribery, of course, carefully disguised in a legal form, but bribery nevertheless. Whenever big money changes hands in Washington, there is always a quid pro quo, though it is hard to prove it.

There are some honorable people in Washington, but I suspect they would all fit into a relatively small room. Whenever you find an honest and honorable man or woman in a public office, you should cherish that person and give him or her your fierce support.

At the same time, you should adopt an equally fierce, no-quarter-given attitude toward any public official who abuses the public trust. Honesty and honor are more important than party or ideology.

The modern robber barons, with their phony free-trade agreements and their offshoring of jobs to sweatshop countries, are trying to reduce us to the status of most Latin American countries, where a tiny few control all the wealth. Already the gap between the rich and the poor in the US is higher than it has been since 1929.

The American people have the power to stop this, and if they don't use it, they will have only themselves to blame for their misery.

Copyright 2005 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Bill Totten


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