New Rules, Same Game
January 23, 2006
week I mailed each of my congressional colleagues a copy of a speech outlining
my views on the lobbying and ethics scandals engulfing Washington.
Iím afraid many of them wonít like my conclusion: to reduce
corruption in government, we must make government less powerful-- and hence less
interesting to lobbyists.
find it hard to believe that changing the congressional ethics rules or placing
new restrictions on lobbyists will do much good. After all, we already have laws against bribery, theft, and
fraud. We already have ethics rules
in Congress. We already have
campaign finance reform. We already
require campaigns and lobbyists to register with the federal government and
disclose expenditures. We already
require federal employees, including the president and members of congress, to
take an oath of office. None of it
is working, so why should we think more rules, regulations, or laws will change
whether we like it or not, is constitutionally protected.
The First amendment unequivocally recognizes the right of Americans to
ďpetition the government for a redress of grievances.Ē
We canít deal with corruption in government by ignoring the
donít believe the problem is corrupt lobbyists or even corrupt politicians per
se. The fundamental problem, in my
view, is the very culture of Washington. Our
political system has become nothing more than a means of distributing government
largesse, through tax dollars confiscated from the American people-- always in
the name democracy. The federal budget is so enormous that it loses all meaning.
Whatís another million or so for some pet project, in an annual budget of $2.4
trillion? No one questions the
principle that a majority electorate should be allowed to rule the country,
dictate rights, and redistribute wealth.
no wonder a system of runaway lobbying and special interests has developed.
When we consider the enormous entitlement and welfare system in place,
and couple that with a military-industrial complex that feeds off perpetual war
and encourages an interventionist foreign policy, the possibilities for
corruption are endless. We
shouldnít wonder why there is such a powerful motivation to learn the tricks
of the lobbying trade-- and why former members of Congress and their aides
become such high priced commodities.
dependency on government generated by welfarism and warfarism, made possible by
our shift from a republican to a democratic system of government, is the real
scandal of the ages. If
we merely tinker with current attitudes about the role of the federal government
in our lives, it wonít do much to solve the ethics crisis.
True reform is impossible without addressing the immorality of wealth
After all, criminals by definition ignore laws; unethical people ignore the rules of ethics. Changing the rules or the players is merely a band-aid if we donít change the nature of the game itself.