Gather ’round, Slytherins, for a tale about disgrace. . .
Sheila Dixon was, until yesterday, the Mayor of Balitmore. She had to resign after a three year corrpution investigation that resulted in her being found guilty of embezzlement. (I hadn’t even known about the perjury issue). Seems that in the trial she didn’t even show up for, jurors found her guilty of stealing gift cards intended for the poor, about $500 worth. Yesterday, at her presser announcing the plea deal and her resignation, she got weepy, declaring that she was sad “not for the decision she’d made” — this was the only way to keep her pension –“but because she loves her staff, they’re such good people, blah blah blah. . .”
Look, it’s clear as day that isn’t why she’s weepy. She’s weepy because she got caught, because she threw away a position of responsibility and power for a petty trifle, and now has lost the respect of every Marylander with even the slightest sense of morality. If she loved her staff half as much as she says she does, she wouldn’t have done what she did. If she loved the city, she wouldn’t have stolen from her poor.
It’s true that $500 isn’t alot in these days of trillion dollar government fleecing, but I suppose that in some ways, that’s the most pathetic part of this story. If you’re going to steal, well by Prometheus, make it worthwhile. Hell, go for the whole Jayne Cobb and steal from someone oppressive, so the mudders can write songs about you, and build crappy statues in you honor. It’s still theft, still wrong, but at least somebody approves.
But a mere $500. . . from the poor? Who steals from the poor? If you’re mayor, and you’re stealing from the poor of your own city, the only thing that can be said is that the action reveals a heart of petty greed. Those who love other, who seek to help those in need of it, don’t even think about stealing the charitable donations of others. It doesn’t even enter their minds. If you approached them and said, “Take one for yourself”, they’d refuse.
She got caught, now she’s upset. But I’d wager, that at least at the time, she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. After all, she might have thought, I deserve this. I work so hard for the people of this city, this won’t hurt anybody . . .
The problem with governments is this: everyone thinks this way.
One day you’re filching gift cards, the next your openly taking bribes for votes. You think people get upset only because they didn’t get while the getting was good, while they’re really upset that you’re stealing from them.
Neither Shiela Dixon nor Ben Nelson have any love or respect for their consituents, and they show this by their actions. Of course, even the best of folks will make mistakes, will screw up, will do things they oughtn’t do. But most folk don’t cross the line into theft, or taking bribes in public. They get dazzled by the glamor and pretty girls/ boys in their lap, and loose their minds for 15 shameful minutes. Or they drink too much, or trip into the drug scene. People forget, and everyone makes mistakes.
But if you do love those you work for, that love minimizes these mistakes. The glamor shines, blinding you, and you reach for the shiney, only to have that love stop you. You love these people, you can’t steal from them! You serve them, you can’t sell them out! When politicians make mistakes like this, it is because, at best, they have fogotten that love. They have forgotten that they are supposed to serve, not be served.
This happens in government so much that it pretty much defines the life of elected officials. This is part of why government never works right, and is always over budget. They have no one to smack their hand out of the cookie jar, no competition to say “Hey, come use my product, I’m not a slimy shmuck like that guy!” Nope, Government is the only game in it’s town, has no diciplining influence, and so therefore almost has to be corrupt and worse than useless.
Public Schools, Public Housing, the Post Office, the DC Metro (reducing service after yet another rate hike). . . the story is always the same, and always will be. Where there is no competition, there is disgrace.
[Of course, we can’t really have competition for Goverment. We can, however, have better competition for the people who make up government. Term limits, actual transparency (not the opaque granite transparency of the current White House and Congress). . .In fact, I’d say the whole point of the Consitution of the US was to be that smacking hand! No! Bad Congress! No mandating to private citizens how to spend their earnings! No messing about with their speech! No usurping the rights of the States! Bad! Bad! No biscuit for you!]
[You know, it’s really bad when a Slytherin is lecturing people on morality. What a messed up world we live in. . .]