Why Is Corruption So Widespread?
Liberals love Franklin Delano Roosevelt … and conservatives hate him.
But both liberals and conservatives are inspired by the wise, non-partisan words of the supreme ass-kicker Teddy Roosevelt:
Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
Roosevelt is exactly right: the root problem is not big business (which liberals blame) or big government (which conservatives blame). It is the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politicians which is the core problem (read this for details).
Sure, Teddy busted up the private cartels. But – as his quote shows – we have to bust up the public corruption as well, or nothing will change.
Remember, the government made the big banks into giants in the first place:
As MIT economics professor and former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson points out today, the official White House position is that:
(1) The government created the mega-giants, and they are not the product of free market competition
(3) Giant banks are good for the economy
(Even after the financial crisis hit, the government encouraged the biggest banks to grow even bigger).
It is the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Congress who have:
- Repeatedly bailed out the big banks (and made permanent bailouts more or less official policy)
- Picked winners and losers – even involving foreign interests (and see this)
- Ensured they make money at taxpayer expense
- Exempted them from standard accounting practices and the criminal and fraud laws which govern the little guy
- Encouraged insane amounts of leverage
- Enabled the too big to fail banks – through “moral hazard” – to become even more reckless
This is not a partisan issue. Both liberals and conservatives agree that we must end the malignant, symbiotic relationship between big government and big corporations.
What History Teaches Us
Any conservatives who have any doubt about how corrupt Wall Street has become … please skim this and read these quotes:
“If the people only understood the rank injustice of our Money and Banking system, there would be a revolution before morning.”
- Andrew Jackson
“A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interests, combined in one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks.”
- John C. Calhoun, Vice President of the United States
“There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by…corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.”
- James Madison
Any liberals who have any doubt about how corrupt government officials have become … kindly glance at this and read the following quotes:
“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the Field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”
- Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom, 1913
“There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.”
- Senator Daniel K. Inouye, 1987
“The real rulers in Washington are invisible, and exercise power from behind the scenes.”
- Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, 1952
Roosevelt: “To Dissolve the Unholy Alliance Between Corrupt Business and Corrupt Politics is the First Task” was originally published on Washington’s Blog