Corruption, Inc.

It seems that the specter of corruption has once again visited the great state of Illinois.

With the federal arrest and indictment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) yesterday, we now have five sitting or former Illinois governors who have faced jail time in as many decades.

I realize these are acts committed by individuals, each with his own personality traits and character flaws. Heck, stories out today are even questioning the psychological balance (or imbalance, as the case may be) of Gov. Blagojevich, because members of his own party didn’t know where he was coming from on certain policy initiatives.

My larger point is this: Illinois is quickly becoming known for a seemingly regular pattern of mismanagement, questionable ethics, backroom deals, and yes, outright lawlessness. You can’t just chalk this up to political aberrations anymore, and you certainly can’t say that there must be something in the water.

Look no further than the Windy City, Chicago. We used to celebrate the lore of the juggernaut Daley Machine and smile whimsically of the corners they cut to push their agendas. But why? Why is that something anyone is proud of? Look where it leads to — if you push the envelope one day and get away with it, what do you think will happen the next time? Blagojevich sure found out … Like it or not, it’s even starting to spill over onto another favored son of the state — President-elect Obama.

When you stop and think about it, one of the indictments of Gov. Blagojevich was his quid pro quo for state earmarks — he offered to trade state funding for a children’s hospital in exchange for campaign contributions. Hmmm, and we somehow think that earmarks still serve as a public good in Washington? I’m not saying all earmarks are bad. But what I am saying is they could easily act as a gateway drug for more unwarranted, unnecessary and even corrupt wasting of the taxpayers’ money.

It’s time the folks of Illinois said enough is enough and started systematically rooting out the nefarious elements of the politics that is often celebrated when it should be criminalized.



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