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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Power Corrupts

In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, Lord Acton stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

Take a look at what we have in Washington today. Of course, Austin is no better, but luckily for us, the Texas legislature convenes only once every two years.

Pause and reflect. Think back to the number of legislators and congressmen who have had their hides nailed to the wall for almost every conceivable white-collar crime imaginable.

Just in our neck of the woods, I, as you, have witnessed many head to Washington for the first time, usually carrying all they owned in a four-year old Chevy. When they returned ten or twenty years later, they’re millionaires several times over.
Quite an achievement for the rank and file congressmen who makes $174,000 a year. Darned good budgeting, though given Washington’s spend-crazy attitudes, I don’t know where the newbies would learn to watch their money.

Who am I kidding? No one, that’s who. Most got their wealth with support from powerful individuals who expected a helping once the newbie congressman was able. Not all, but many.

Many of them served so many terms that they came to truly believe they deserved the seat—it was theirs and theirs alone. I witnessed one who lost after decades in congress explode in rage, spitting out the toxic suggestion that his constituents deserved the sorry candidate they got. Off camera, of course.

Most of those folks up there have honed corruption to a razor’s edge. They are so filled with their own self-importance that they believe they can do no wrong; that they know what is best for each of us; and that if we disagree, we are traitors and racists and bigots and even hate Mickey Mouse.

Look at how our president demeaned Arizona’s new law. I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but it seems he likes to throw his weight around. But he isn’t the only one up there throwing his weight around.

Up in Vermont in a pastoral setting of rolling hills covered with hay sits a two-story, red brick border crossing between the U.S. and Canada by the name of Morse’s Line. The crossing is about fifty miles southeast of Montreal on a lazy country road.
In this sleepy crossing, three cars an hour are considered heavy traffic. And most of them are visiting family. Said one of the retired custom guards, “We usually passed the day watching deer graze.”

And then the Department of Homeland Security, led by that All-Knowing Champion of Security, Clueless Janet Napolitano, decided to update the crossing. She also wanted several adjoining acres out of a dairy farm run by the Rainville family since 1946 that abutted the crossing.

Though the government had allocated 420 million for Homeland Security and planned to spend eight million plus upgrading the crossing, they only offered the Rainvilles $39,500.

The Rainvilles refused. Those acres brought in about a thousand bales of hay a year for the dairy herd of 150. At the current price of $3.25 a bale, after twelve years, the $3,250 would start coming out of their income.

Clueless Janet exercised her ‘power’ and told them either sell or the government will take it by eminent domain. (government talk for legal theft)

Now here’s what bothers me about the whole mess. First, why spend eight million upgrading such an out-of-the-way crossing? That is the epitome of government excess, spending just because they can, a behavior that is the reason the whole country is neck-deep in debt.

Second, why does Clueless Janet need several acres? What kind of crossing does she plan on building there in the middle of nowhere, a super Walmart?

And third, if they’ve allocated eight million to upgrade, how about buying the land at a fair or generous price instead of trying to steamroll the family into selling out? I’ll bet you if the Rainvilles were part of Napolitano’s family, they’d get a generous deal.

But then, the whole community jumped into the fray, and believe it or not, Clueless Janet started backing down. As of now, the whole thing is still up in the air.
Lord Acton was right, folks. Power corrupts.

It is time for us to send those jokers back to a regular job. If there is ever a
time to put in ‘term limits’, it could be with the fresh faces we vote in come November.

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