Friday, June 10, 2011

About government corruption

I'm reading a book called "Jersey Sting," about a bunch of crooked government officials and others who were caught in a sting in--believe it or not--New Jersey.

It is totally understandable how a situation like this comes about.  Our elected representatives--municipal, state, federal--makes laws, which are then interpreted by unelected bureaucrats, which create rules about zoning, safety, etc, which makes accomplishing anything slower and more expensive for business.  The creators of capital who want to build something realize that the only way to get anything done is to bribe the bureaucrats and politicians.  So they do, and projects go forward.  And everyone is happy, until they all get arrested and go to jail.

Don't get me wrong.  The crooks, particularly the elected ones, are betraying a public trust and richly deserve to go to jail.   But the system as it stands is an invitation to corruption which few can resist.

Incorruptible government officials are often worse.  My friend who wanted to build a house on acreage she owned in California was thwarted by a bureaucrat who arbitrarily denied her request and made it stick.  Perhaps she should have bribed him, but did not, but  he was implacably opposed to her project and was able to prevail.  So my friend now owns a piece of expensive land that is essentially useless to her.

Couldn't some of this be avoided by having fewer public officials, any of whom can throw a monkey wrench into any  plan?

And then there the environmentalists and the NIMBY folks.  Sigh.

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