Corruption is not an aberration in government

There’s an assumption built into many political arguments:  that disinterested public servants can get in the same room, look at data, and agree that X is the right course of action.  It’s obvious, all smart people agree.  Self interest never comes into play, never pollutes the quality of thinking.  No horse-trading, no log-rolling.

Here’s Kevin D. Williamson on corruption in government, from Politics at Work

Don’t look now, but it’s another isolated incident. Philadelphia, just like D.C. . . . and Atlanta . . . and El Paso, has just learned that its schools are run by corrupt teachers and administrators who, unwilling or unable to do the work of educating Philadelphia’s children, have resorted to changing answers on standardized tests in order to make themselves look better.

Corruption is not an aberration in government; it is the norm. People do not cease to be self-interested economic actors when elected to the Senate or employed by the Philadelphia school system. The cheating teachers, the political persecution by the IRS and by prosecutors in Texas and Wisconsin, Harry Reid trying to hide payments to his granddaughter, billions upon billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud that Washington studiously ignores – it is all part of the same phenomenon. Every single thing the hand of politics touches becomes ugly and stupid and ineffective, given enough time.

So a hearty congratulations to all you rubes who voted to ensure that your health care is delivered with the same high standards found in the Philadelphia public schools. I’m sure your test results will be outstanding.

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