By Lynn Woolley
April 21, 2012
Face it. Our
government is corrupt. We may not
be as corrupt as Mexico, and we’re certainly not as corrupt as Afghanistan –
but our government no longer exists to serve the people; it exists to serve the
Only days ago, the House and Senate passed – and President
Obama signed into law – the STOCK Act, designed to stop members of Congress
from making a profit on insider trading – things they are privileged to know
that the rest of us don’t. But the
Act, which means “Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge” had been sitting in
limbo for months with few members even knowing about it. It took an expose on CBS’s “60 Minutes”
along with sinking Congressional approval numbers to get it done. Even then, Congress watered it down.
Indeed, government in the 21st Century is all
about protecting government.
If you ask a liberal, he’ll likely bring up the Supreme
Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. And
yes, Citizens United was about freedom of speech for both corporations and
unions – but it also gave rise to the Super PAC. These organizations can raise unlimited amounts of money,
generally used to destroy the opposition with negative advertising as Mitt
Romney did to Newt Gingrich.
If you ask a conservative, he’ll refer you back just a few
years to the roots of the Great Recession. In 2004, Fannie Mae had become a lucrative playhouse where
political favors were handed out and under-the-table fortunes were made. In October of that year, the House
According to the Wall Street Journal, the staunchest defenders of Fannie were members of
the Congressional Black Caucus. By
a strange coincidence, the Fannie Mae Foundation was making annual contributions
to the Caucus. Maxine Waters
(D-CA) “cooed all over Mr. Raines” and Clay Lacy (D-MO) “played the race card
by calling the hearings a ‘political lynching’ of Mr. Raines.”
That would be Franklin Raines, an African American who
stepped down as chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae on December 21, 2004. This followed an investigation by the
Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) and the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) that accused Fannie of cooking the books so that its
officers could “earn” big bonuses.
The OFHEO filed suit against Raines to try to recover the $50 million in
payments that were made to him based on the faulty accounting. He settled for a small fine that was
paid by Fannie’s insurance company.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the
“golden parachutes” and bonuses handed out at Fannie Mae. But you don’t have to go to Washington
to find this type of thing. You
can file a Freedom of Information request to take a look at the contracts of
your local school superintendent and city manager. You’ll find they’re nearly impossible to fire, and when they
are fired, they usually leave rich.
Former Killeen City Manager Connie Green left his office with $750,000
of taxpayer money as a going-away present – and Killeen residents still don’t
have the whole story.
Back in Washington, scandal abounds. The Secret Service isn’t as secret as
it used be following a prostitution brouhaha in Cartagena. The General Services Administration –
the nations’ real estate agency – famously brought in a clown and a mind reader
to an $820,000 Las Vegas conference of federal bureaucrats. If that wasn’t over-the-top,
maybe the video they made showing themselves in tuxedos and putting on magic
Much more taxpayer money was wasted by the President’s
alternative energy program that funneled money to the now-defunct Solyndra
through a $535-million loan guarantee. But that scandal pales when compared to “Operation
Fast and Furious,” a bloody scheme in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms allowed guns to “walk” to Mexico.
There’s more, but you get the point. We have a president who used cocaine, a
Treasury secretary who cheated on taxes and a governor in Texas who double dips
on his salary. How can we
get a better class of people to run our government?
If we abolished the Internal Revenue Service and adopted a
sales tax such as the Fair Tax, we’d curb the power of Congress and lobbyists
at the same time – and end class warfare as well. Congress could no longer sell tax-code changes to the
highest bidder. If we returned to
the Framers’ idea of United States senators being appointed by state
legislatures, we’d take the big money out of senatorial campaigns and return
power to the states. We could end
the policy of “Too Big To Fail.”
We could institute term limits and try to elect a citizen
legislature. In the end, we
simply must find people of character to put in office.
Lynn Woolley is a Texas-based
radio talk show host. His website