Why is George W. Wrecking the Public Treasury?

by Thom Riddle

Not so long ago, the Republican Party stood staunchly for fiscal responsibility in government above all else. This was, is and always must be a cornerstone of any ideology that hopes to be viable long-term. That being the case, why is DubYa plunging our government headlong into financial oblivion? Iíve heard and read many "reasons" for this, including the following:

These are ideological justifications, none of which is the real reason, in my opinion. However, for a skeptical and cynical person, such as myself, the last reason is certainly an appealing motive to hang around DubYaís neck. As attractive as it is, and I have no illusions that this may not indeed part of his agenda, I think it is something much more basic. After all, DubYa couldnít do all of this (some of it certainly, but not all) without consent of our elected representatives. Do not forget that nearly half of these folks hang their hats under the donkey banner, not the one with the elephant.

So, it appears to me that whatever ideological persuasion the politicians claim adherence to, those having the power to do right by America and the rest of the world, simply are marching to a different drummer than us common folk. Or are they?

The vast majority of us make decisions every day based on what we personally expect to gain (or not lose) from that decision. This is human nature. Likewise in the voting booth, if you are out of work, youíll probably vote for the one you believe might help you find a good job. If you are retired and canít afford medicines that you need to stay alive or reduce your suffering; youíre going to vote for the guy you think might help you pay for these essential medicines. Whatever you perceive as your most urgent personal need, whether that is tax-free dividends from your investments, tax-free transfer of your wealth to your descendants, medical care, or freedom from the fear of terrorism, your motivation at the polls is the same. Your motivation is simply to improve your personal situation. Again, this is human nature.

Many years ago my father was asked whether he thought himself to be an honest man. My fatherís response was very typical of him as he had a tendency to cut through the crap, straight to the core on any issue. He said, "Iím not sure; Iíve never had the opportunity to steal a million dollars knowing for certain that I would get away with it without punishment." In his mind the test of honesty was whether or not one would make choices based on an ethical standard that was incorruptible by opportunity. That said, can we really expect our elected representatives, leaders, and decision-makers to make decisions contrary to what they perceive to be in their personal best interest? Only if we elect folks who are incorruptible by opportunity. It takes an unusual individual to act in such a way as to put the interests of a large group, such as 280 million folks who call the USA home, without expecting some personal gain above and beyond the benefit derived by the group as a whole.

Why is George W. wrecking the public treasury? The answer is really quite simple: Because he is not a person who is incorruptible by opportunity and therefore expects to gain personally from his decisions and actions, the welfare of the nation be damned. And more importantly, because he can! So who or what is at fault? The system is at fault. It is a vary rare individual who would put up with the intense scrutiny and abuse that one must accept when seeking public office by election, if he could not expect some big time compensation for his trouble. For folks who already have plenty of money the motive is likely to be power and control over others or an ego driven wish to make history. None of this is news to thinking adults.

So does it really matter who we elect as the next Power Broker in Chief? Not as much as we would like to believe, unless we somehow change the system in such a way that it will encourage rare individuals that are truly motivated to make the nation a better place for all of us, not just our buddies and supporters. The last President who seemed to act on conscience with the best interests of the nation at heart (at least in his mind) was probably Jimmy Carter. I did not agree with many things he did; indeed, I did not even vote for him. But because he is apparently a man of high character and integrity, he had a very difficult time while in Washington. It has been said that he has been much more effective as an ex-president than he was as president. Itís hard to argue with that.

So the issue is not why DubYa is acting the way he is? Rather, how do we change the system to motivate those incorruptible few to run for office, enable them to win against the unscrupulous, act by the highest ethical standards while in office, and be effective in that position? I guess thatís the trillion-dollar question. Any ideas?