12/14/2008

Thoughts On Curing Corruption

Pointless restatement of the furiously obvious: Illinois politics are corrupt and it's hardly a stretch to say that senior Illinois politicians are at some level part of the corruption (General Assembly, Chicago City Council, Cook County Board, Governor's office, Secretary of State, probably everybody other than the occasional local library). Either they affirmatively participated (e.g. Gov. Rod Scumbagevich) or they've witnessed corruption and stood silent because a corrupt actor was necessary to effect a separate, but clean, objective (e.g. too numerous to itemize).

Einstein said "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Corruption flows, eventually, from stupidity, so a permanent extraction of corruption from politics is impossible. We can, however, make it more difficult, or at least raise its price and cost. May I suggest a couple simple steps:
  • Severe punishment (Hot Rod's looking at 30 years. That sounds about right, but I'd add no possibility of parole, commutation or pardon. That'd be enough to keep my hands out of the cookie jar).
  • Substantially higher compensation for elected officals.
  • Term limits.
  • Meaningful lifetime pensions.
  • Lifetime lobbying bans, with automatic, unreviewable, irrevocable loss of aforementioned pension in the event of conviction.
Thoughts?

2 comments:

Steven L. Baerson said...

You don't believe that that President-elect Barry stood silent because a corrupt actor was necessary to effect a separate, but clean, objective, do you? Think Tony Rezko, Rev. Wright, William Ayers, etc... Any increase in pension would have to be accompanied by a total forfeiture of that pension in the event of any criminal conviction. Currently, there is nothing that can forfeit a congressional pension. Think about Dan Rostenkowski sitting back and collecting a big, fat, guarantied federal pension. Sad, isn't it!

Rational said...

I'm not sure pay is the right way to go. If you think about it, it raises the stakes for any particular political seat. Additionally, larger pensions increase the rewards for serving longer, likely inducing more corruption. Recall that the discussions that Blago was having with the Jackson camp were actually about campaign cash and not personal reward.

I think the only real deterrent is jail time. Long and hard jail time.