Government corruption

After decades of observing politics and resulting government, I’m sorry to say that most people who engage either have a personal agenda to push or, after being elected, become advocates for the bureaucracies they oversee rather than for the people they should represent—they start corrupted or become corrupt.

The word corrupt has negative connotations. I use it reluctantly because I know some government officials who aren’t corrupt; yet, far too few—and some for which we had high hopes have disappointed us. Furthermore, none of us want to believe our elected officials are immoral. We chose them and don’t like to admit our mistakes. But “the flesh is weak.”

Government by its nature has a strong corrupting influence, even on presumably honest people. In its embracing grip they come to believe that they can use it for whatever purpose they justify. Thus, instead of keeping the “fire” contained within constitutional limits, they allow it to get out of control; threatening to consume all of us.

For example, rather than judiciously protecting our private property, officials arbitrarily take our earnings by force and give them to others for favored projects. One pervasive, inappropriate (I say immoral) use they commonly employ is to “create jobs” in activities and places of their choosing.

To carry out these corruptions the political class often joins force: government officials, bureaucrats and lobbyists work together at the expense of hapless taxpayers. Even worse, administrations collude with other government authorities. Take a recent case reported in the Wilmington, North Carolina StarNews by Kevin Maurer (www.starnewsonline.com).

The New Hanover County Commissioners decided to “partner” with the Town of Carolina Beach because as Mayor Bob Lewis said, “We need the money….” Why?—to glorify the boardwalk and attract more tourists. Why?—to benefit some businesses and the local government. Why?—to increase the size of government (my answers to the last two questions).

The County Board of Commissioners “unanimously” bought into this “investment” that will remove a half-million dollars from the county savings account and “loan” it to the town’s new $1.55 million boardwalk improvement scheme.

Carolina Beach officials have a pathetic record of spending other people’s money on failed land development projects—adding taxes and putting their residents in debt.

In this case, county commissioners’ hope for payback from tax receipts expected if a $14 million beachfront hotel appears. But County Manager Chris Condriet says that the county will receive tax revenue from the hotel regardless.

To his credit, Mr. Condriet opposed the misuse of county funds. Yet, in a bizarre, feeble attempt to justify this action, Board Chairman Woody White said, “I don’t see this as an economic development item but as governments working together.” Working together for what—to risk county taxpayer’s money that will benefit a few (probably mostly local government) interests in Carolina Beach?

In my opinion this is wrong. Although the Board action may not be a secret deal or technically illegal it shows, at least, very poor judgment by our elected officials.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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