There Oughta Be a Law

Finally. Somebody calling for a corrupt practices act. In an op-ed in the New York Times Peter Schweizer remarks:

In 2016, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $264 million as part of a settlement with the federal government. The reason? An Asian subsidiary of the company had hired the children of Chinese government officials in the hopes of currying favor with their powerful parents — a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Had the same thing happened with a foreign company and an American politician’s family, however, no violation would have occurred — because no equivalent American law prevents a foreign company or government from hiring the family members of American politicians.

This glaring loophole provides political families with an opportunity to effectively “offshore” corruption and cronyism. It gives the politically connected class enormously tempting opportunities for self-dealing, the sort of thing that is blatantly illegal in almost any other context.

He then goes on to outline the shenanigans of the Biden and McConnell families, enriching family members through what is essentially legal influence-peddling. Calling it for what it is, political corruption, is long overdue.

But I have a basic question. How in the world would it be enforced? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? What we really need are elected officials whose own informed consciences would prevent them from engaging in corrupt practices and an electorate who won’t elect and re-elect corrupt officials because they belong to the right political party.

Corruption is endemic in government at every level and will not root itself out. It raises the cost of practically everything that government does. To name the most widespread and broadly accepted form of corruption public employee labor unions allowed to make political contributions are an inherently corrupt arrangement.

We’ll see if people are outraged enough to insist that action be taken. My bet is that we will return to our normal somnolent state. It’s a troubled sleep but it’s sleep nonetheless. Corruption will not find reasonable limits and resolve itself. The reason that greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins is that it is not self-limiting.

2 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Why are we limiting it to foreign countries? There might be dozens of family members of politicians on boards in foreign countries. There are probably thousands here in the US. You dont have to be a politician, so make a choice. Stay in office if you have no family serving on a board, or resign if it is important for a family member to serve on a board. Make the restriction even tighter if you are in a lifetime judge position.


  • CStanley Link

    The thing that I find more egregious about the graft opportunities in foreign countries is that the self interest of our politicians becomes aligned with corrupt cabals that influence our foreign policy and affect national security.

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