If you spend any time on social media you can only come to one conclusion, graft is everywhere except with the less that powerful. The wealthy get away with everything up to and even including murder, though murder is the toughest one to escape. Congress has far too many members who spend three terms, or even two, and if one is astute, one term and walk away as multimillionaires. Many people ask as to how this can be. Many understand and know why this can be and often is. Senators and Representatives are covered by laws which exempt them from insider trading. So if there is a defense bill coming to a vote and the members of Congress know that in six weeks it will pass, it will easily give company XYZ a multi-billion dollar contract which is hundreds of times more than their budget for the previous five years combined. XYZ stock is selling at $1.23 a share six weeks out, so many, but not all as they take turns according to seniority, buy a thousand shares. The bill passes and Wall Street lights up and within two days that stock now sells for $327.77 a share. The Congress members sell their stock at this point making over $325,000.00 for a six week and two day investment in a stock because they cannot be charged with insider trading. This simple trick goes for much more than defense legislation and at every level of government. In the little township, county, city or borough where you live they repair roads, bridges and build parking garages and hire companies to manage all kinds of government projects. Going into such contracts these are often small family businesses with under twenty-five employees and just initially making stock options. That places their stock initially on the volatile IPO (Initial Public Offering) market which is usually the home for high risk, high reward investors and not for the faint of heart. But when you know that a small operation is about to receive a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract that market becomes far less risky and investing becomes a sure bet. This is the sleight of hand, crooked investing which can be found throughout government at all levels. Often those who would prosecute such criminal acts are also clued in on investments when the opportunity is great enough to allow a broad group to make huge benefits without actually raising too much attention. This is why you find so much money going into governmental elections and influencing because the returns are far beyond the pittance invested. Giving a number of city electors a hundred thousand dollars into their election funding and then after they defeat their opponent who received one fifth the amount they will receive multi-million dollar contracts and the city electors investing wisely become millionaires within a few years and move to Tahiti if they are smart, or buy their own newly charted island and refuse extradition to the United States.
This is nothing new as it has been how the Senators in Rome maintained their wealth and how the Caesars ruled over these Senators distributing government monies to those who supported them and not the others. The first Caesar, Julius Caesar made a single mistake, he kept the money with the people and refused to feed the graft machine which was the Senate and the commanders of the legions. This resulted in his big day on the Senate steps where he was made into a pincushion using tens of knives as the pins with the final pin, some claim the fifty-first knife, plunged into Caesar’s back by Brutus, “Et tu Brutus?” Wars were fought throughout antiquity to steal the wealth and enrich the King and their closest advisors and generals who commanded the troops protecting the King and winning their wars. Eventually rulers figured out they could simply tax their subjects and by taking a small to modest amount from each subject reap great wealth. Some rulers made the fatal mistake of figuring that if a modest amount granted great wealth, then doubling the tax would double their wealth. That failed as once you cross a critical point draining from the economy the economy becomes unstable and the gravy train dries up and the people revolt. So many greedy kings found their people to be revolting right before they met the guillotine, the sword or other form of execution, some far less noble at the hands of the rabble. Governmental systems have changed, governing has not. Governing is still how to provide the people with sufficient services and comfort while stealing as much as the market will bear enriching the governing. Can this poisoning of government be rooted out and extinguished? Probably not for as Campaign Finance Reform should have taught the people of the United States is that no matter how you rig the game and what you do to take the money from the hands and supporting structures of the elected public servants, they will simply invent some way around the laws, appear not to actually control what they are forbidden, have an indirect but close knot control of these funds and will make away with the wealth in the end. What is more diabolical and evil are those high government employees who are just below the appointed position who are civil servants, thus presumably untouchable by those in power, gaining wealth through careful investing and manipulation of portfolios to take advantage of information which comes across their desks as part of enacting the particulars of legislations. This has gotten far more prevalent as the legislation leaves the entirety of the building and enacting the structures to fulfill the demands of vague legislations thus allowing much of the distribution of contracts and such to these civil servants. There is little chance that these civil servants are all so clean as to not make investments or find other means of enriching themselves. There are far too many very wealthy government employees whose salaries are less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year, how did they become wealthy? Little problem in figuring that out, is there.
Money is the grease which oils the wheels of government. That remains true to this day and will likely remain true far into the future. The opportunities to become wealthy from being in the right place to hear the next outlay of millions of dollars by government cannot be eliminated until the government is trusted to machines, and then the question will be who monitors and runs the machines. All we can do is alter where the weakest links are placed and thus who gains from inside information. The history of mankind has in part been the history of seeking perfect governance and the failure at virtually every juncture. There was once a governance which was as close to that perfection people seek but is unwieldy as the people must have the faith to trust their safety and protection from other nations and their invasions or other entreaties to an entity they cannot know and claim daily their inability to understand their ruling entity trusting the messengers who claim to be the sole recipients of that wisdom. This was the ruling by Hashem over the initial Israelite Tribes through the prophets and judges. There was not government largess to benefit from its wealth and how it was distributed as all was in the hands of Hashem and there were no government programs. Roads were made by people traveling between locations using the same route which eventually packs the ground making a clear and obvious path, not what you would desire to drive your brand new Lexus across but perfectly fine for your donkey. Even the advances far, far back around 1100 BCE forced the Israelites to demand to have a King like the neighboring nations to lead their army and protect them from the threats emerging around them and Torah records that Hashem told the Judges and Prophets that should the Israelites demand some form of governance to provide them security, then they should be permitted such governance. This resulted in their taking a king asking the leading prophet to anoint their king leading to King Saul. Saul was not the worst of kings or the best, but his reign led directly through some odd circumstance to King David and then King Solomon which was the shining period where the tribes of Israel were united into a singular nation which conquered lands up to the Euphrates River (see maps below showing Twelve Tribes, King David and Solomon conquest and the promised lands for Israel according to treaties from World War I). Following Kings were less successful with the eventual downfall which coincided with a king who was an idolater and placed idols inside Solomon’s Temple, a low point for the Tribes of Israel. Over the next centuries the Israelites managed to throw off tyrants or be granted autonomy under the sovereignty of a greater power. The Israelites were even permitted to build the Second Temple which included Herod building what is today the Western Wall, built over six hundred years before the founding of Islam and about a century before the birth of Jesus. Herod made himself great amounts of wealth, sufficient to build himself a mountain with a castle and burial crypt in the Northern Negev and live a lavish life of opulence simply by giving the people what they demanded, the Temple Complex, and collect taxes in order to provide the people their desires while fulfilling his own. This has been the formula of effective governance for centuries both before and since, especially since. Many of the iconic public works projects, if investigated and audited meticulously would reveal that many within the government and closely tied to people in the governance and especially with the planning of public works gained great wealth. Be the works be a huge clock in the middle of London, a great dock providing thousands of new jobs in Amsterdam or almost any public work one could mention.
So, how can the vast majority of this corruption, this theft of the public treasure be prevented? The quickest would be to subject politicians and public servants (government workers) to the same laws as the public and demand an accounting of their incomes and investments as well as careful auditing of all contracts. Make all government bids by law be the final price charged with no cost overruns, no additional surprises, and no adjustments or new demands during production that allow for fudging numbers and hiding payouts. Adding that whatever the estimated date of delivery be set such that any time overrun resulting in a percentage of the initial payments budgeted being returned to government as a means of compensating the public for these delays. This would force defense contractors to make realistic and exacting bids instead of making a lowball bid knowing they can increase the cost through delays and cost overrun demands after the initial bid is accepted. The F-35 JSF is a prime example with it coming to delivery a good part of a decade late with cost overruns and technical problems resulting in the price of each fighter costing a good deal closer to double the expected and quoted price. Had these costs been included in the initial bid it is quite possible that the bid might have gone to a competitor. The current development and bidding system used by government contractors, especially in the defense industry, is to guess at what it might cost and to make a bid at three-quarters of that estimate completely confident that the remainder and more sufficient to make the profit desired as well as cover any difficulties along the way. This is a legalized form for guaranteeing theft. If, on the other hand, contractors were made to provide what they promised for the price they bid, and not a plug nickel over, then the bids would be far more realistic and shades higher to cover the expected of the unexpected, or should we simply call it the unplanned snags and other complications. This would allow the government and the voting public, should they be interested, to understand, and know ahead of time, exactly what projects will cost. Currently the public knows that the quoted bids are a ruse and perhaps if they were guaranteed these bids would be the exact delivery price the public might take a real interest. As things are, why bother with the bidding when one really need wait as long as a decade to find out the actual delivery price because there is little or no actual oversight.
Government needs to become a business, not a joke, a poke in the dark where truth is a rare commodity and concealed misappropriation the rule of thumb. If a butcher ran his store as governments are run his scale would be off by 10% and he would often have his thumb on the scale as well. Nothing would be as it appears and the rule of buyer be wary would be most necessary. Governments, when designed in democratic based nations, are presumed to be open and to be overseen by the people who by being informed can make solid and reasoned votes for their representatives. Oh, if only this were true. The reality is we elect our candidates or parties, pending on whether we have a representative democracy or a parliamentary system, according to elaborate shows designed to thrill and titillate the public with elaborate deceptions designed to sell the product making it appear more responsible than the governance’s results. The entire production is very Hollywood and just as much a fantasy. This all results in a governance just as deceptive as are the campaigns and the people depicted therein. There is an easy way which we can attest from our experience in running a campaign for the United States House of Representatives where we spent at most $10,000 and received more voted per dollar than either of our high priced opponents despite not quite garnering 3% of the vote (still the record for third party candidates where we ran). Now we feel it is important to point out that this was a campaign for a job which pays $174,000 per year (current salary) for two years for a total of $348,000 total before having to run again. Our two opponents each spent very close to the same amount on their campaigns which was estimated to have been that one spent $1,200,000 and the other spent $2,200,000. These figures for our opponents do not include PAC and Party funds and advertising. Please explain how that explains spending for a job paying $348,000 which only one of us had even a dream of showing a profit unless something else was going on. And Americans complain they cannot figure out what is wrong with their governance. Of course this is not something peculiar to the United States but exists in every government across the world. Democratic nations probably suffer the least from such deception as they do kind of have to answer to the people and when the people get upset, that distress trumps all else. In dictatorial regimes the difference is far more marked as the ruling elite get the best of what is available, that is when there is a best of available to be had. In those places suffering the worst governances imaginable, such as North Korea and Venezuela, eating and having even the necessities can be considered an extravagance. Until we return to Hashem ruling the people or machines keeping humans as their pets, there will be those people using the government for self-enrichment. Always has been and always will be, or so it appears.
Beyond the Cusp