Peter Schweizer, a conservative author and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, has published a new book called "Throw Them All Out: How politicians and friends get rich off insider trading.” The following paragraph is an excerpt from the book that makes a lot of sense with regard to our politicians, their lust for power and lust for money.
“Honest graft is so insidious because it piggybacks on legitimate service, and cloaks both in the name of public good. Give someone the chance to feel that they are serving the public and getting rich at the same time, and you have created a nightmare. Always a practical observer of human nature, Benjamin Franklin in 1787 expressed concern to the Constitutional Convention that when you give politicians the opportunity "to do good and well" you are asking for trouble. ‘There are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. There are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor that shall at the same time be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it.’”
I have said before that politicians in general, regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof) are egotistical and greedy. I think this is true even up to the Office of the President of the United States. That statement isn’t about our current President, either. I believe anyone who runs for President has to be somewhat egotistical to believe they can perform the job effectively. Think about it – believing you’re capable of being the leader of the free world…? What an ego you’d have to have.
The recent insider trading scandal in Washington, even as our elected officials work to reform insider trading for others, is a perfect example. From www.economist.com: “Members of Congress are not barred from owning shares in companies that are regulated by committees on which they sit. They are able to trade freely, even if they find out before anyone else about regulations or events that could effect specific industries or the stock market as a whole, such as a war, an executive order or a new law.”
I’m guessing that’s why many members of both houses in Washington are millionaires. Not only do they secretly take kickbacks from lobbyists but they can also make informed investments that would be illegal for anyone else. In my humble opinion we need term limits on all politicians to help reduce corruption. Some people think it’s not necessary but it certainly would reduce the familiarity in Washington if they were all replaced at least every 10 years or so. Those who have been around the longest seem to have the worst records for corruption and deceit. It only makes sense.
The best thing that could happen in this country would be if all politicians were like George Washington who, when offered the Presidency for life, refused to accept it and stepped down when his time came. Washington didn’t want to be king. He wanted our democratic republic to work as designed. Would that any of our elected officials had that same integrity today.