OPINION: Hypocrisy reigns supreme in our gov’t | PostIndependent.com

OPINION: Hypocrisy reigns supreme in our gov’t

Joe & Linda Skinner
Free Press Opinion Columnists
Joe Skinner
Staff Photo |

HE SAID: It’s a shame that on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech that there continues to be an utter lack of ethical and consistently fair treatment by elected officials. I recently received a bumper sticker for the car and I think I will it apply immediately because it expresses my outrage, “Vote Them Out, (all of them).”

First, we have the disclosures about all the information that the government is gathering on the citizens without our consent or court order. There can be some legitimate debate about the need for this in the face of terrorists’ intent on hate crimes. Maybe secret detention hearings will be next and then we will be back into the Star Chamber proceedings that our Founding Fathers found so appalling. Generally, secret proceedings are contrary to our concept of a free press, individual freedoms, and open discussion about political decisions.

However, those in Congress feel that they are somehow immune to scrutiny about their behavior. Bloomberg Businessweek magazine reported this month that two senators, Max Baucus, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Republican, are working on a rewrite of the tax code. They were going to start with a “blank slate” by eliminating the loopholes. However, concerned they would step on the special breaks favored by their compatriots, they sent out a memo asking for the legislators to communicate the special deductions they want continued. Apparently, their colleagues, concerned about receiving bad press, did not respond, because many of the tax breaks are hard to defend.

The response was to promise the senators that the comments would be top secret and locked in a vault for 50 years. That promise of secrecy prompted more than 1,000 pages of secret suggestions. Even more interesting is that the manager of the legislative records at Congressional Archives says she has “no idea…” of the whereabouts of the secret vault. So protection of political hanky-panky is now top secret, but our private phone calls can be accessed by the government any time they like. Ultimate hypocrisy.

SHE SAID: Much as term limits disrupt the flow of government, they have a lot of merit in situations like this where career politicians have built secret alliances, funds and power bases. On the other hand, you hate to see exemplary politicians have to leave. There is a lot of truth in the idea that elected officials really do not matter; it is the bureaucracies that run the country. The figureheads may change, but the employees rarely do in most of the federal agencies. I think President Obama often feels like the American public when he finds out what the minions in government have been up to in secret. No one person can keep track of what millions of employees do. The problem is compounded, both in politics and the federal agencies when there are people who have no ethics, who are just in office or employed with the goal of gaining personal wealth and power. I applaud those who are whistleblowers and leakers. What other defense do we have against harmful business as usual?

HE SAID: There is a new book that backs up your feelings about the political parasites. “In This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral…,” author Mark Leibovich exposes how Washington, D.C., is controlled by special interests and the pursuit of wealth. In 2009, special interests spent $3.47 billion on lobbying. It is so lucrative that 50% of the retired senators and 47% of representatives end up being lobbyists. Even if we vote all of them out of office, many may come back to haunt us in different ways.

SHE SAID: Maybe Halloween should be moved from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6. It is just too scary that we common people have no one on our side.

HE SAID: Our elective officials claim they are on our side, but they never call foul on themselves. They have created gridlock in our legislative process all the while they are enjoying special health care plans and special pension plans that none of us have. And they do this at a salary they set themselves. No wonder they want to avoid exposure into their thinking. Ultimate hypocrisy!

The Skinners hope we can work together to combat those who seek to hide the truths of their actions by using good sense in the political process and at the ballot box. They can be reached at jlajtls@bresnan.net.

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