As government grows, so does corruption

At the height of the summer corruption scandals involving Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), I wrote that corruption is picking winners and losers.

A progressive government as large and intrusive as ours functions by taking from some in order to give to others. A perfect example is the “Cash for Clunkers” program, through which Congress took $4 billion from taxpayers (losers) to boost the failing auto industry and individuals in the market for a new car at the time (winners).

Now The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is, yet again, picking winners and losers. This time the White House has issued waivers for a select number of health insurance companies and businesses to exempt them from mandates and regulations established in the new healthcare law.

I’m glad to see pushback by these companies — many of which claim the regulations may force them to drop out of parts of the insurance market, or drop existing health insurance coverage for employees. But it’s interesting that the administration is now the grantor of magnanimous dispensations to the few favored businesses, while other companies struggle with a bad economy and burdensome new healthcare regulations.

At the individual level, we identify selective favors like this as corruption, but we often don’t even blink an eye when it takes place at the government level. Yet both instances are unethical and deserve scrutiny.

This decision by the White House to carve out exemptions for certain companies comes as no surprise. (It’s exactly what the Disclose Act proposed to do for campaign finance reform.) But when government gets into the business — of, say, healthcare — they are forced to choose sides.

If we want to bring an end to the corruption that plagues Washington, we need to bring an end to policies like ObamaCare. Smaller government won’t stamp out all corruption. But when government is not in the business of healthcare, agriculture, auto manufacturing and more, it creates fewer opportunities for dishonesty and mitigates the effects of bad behavior.

The relationship between citizen and state today is a mirror image of what was intended at our founding. And our lives and our fortunes are increasingly dependent on the whims of our elected officials. It’s time we turn back toward a system where our government is of the people once again.

More in Technology

ICANN transition plan needs new ideas to ensure accountability

Read more »