As long as humans have been inhabiting the earth and up through modern times, those in power often engage in corrupt activities to acquire more power, influence and wealth.
Currently Illinois is in the news regarding the questionable actions and activities of its governor, which also has uncovered the fact of corruptive influences throughout the state legislature and others holding high positions.
Back in the 13 colonies corruption was prevalent in many forms. When the colonists were free of English rule they needed revenue to pay bills and provide public services. Lotteries became a method to generate government income. At one time all 13 original colonies established lotteries, usually more than one, to raise revenue. Playing the lottery became a civic responsibility. Proceeds from the lotteries helped establish some of the nation's earliest and most prestigious universities -- Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton, and William and Mary. Lottery funds were also used to build churches and libraries. Ben Franklin, John Hancock, and George Washington were all prominent sponsors of specific lotteries for public works projects. While the lotteries were beneficial to state governments, they were not without corruptive influences.
During the 1930's in New York, Governor Thomas E. Dewey is said to have engaged in questionable, illegal and corrupt activities with some of the known criminals of the time, e.g., Mafia leader "Lucky" Luciano and "Bumpy" Johnson who ran numbers in Harlem. In fact many believe that Dewey secretly worked with Luciano to eliminate public enemy "Dutch" Schultz. After Schultz was assassinated by a Mafia hit-man, Dewey then went after and convicted Luciano, developed a campaign against organized crime and became known as the "Gangbuster". Dewey had become a Federal prosecutor and achieved many good things to make America more free of crime syndicates.
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During the past decade, the George W. Bush administration and a misguided Congress have been involved in questionable actions and corruptive activities, which include providing various corporations, e.g., Halliburton with lucrative contracts in Iraq without implementing any fair bidding criteria. Greed catapulted the management of our nation as well as the activities and intent of the financial sector [banks, loan companies and Wall Street] who provided easy credit to Americans while U.S. lawmakers looked the other way as "deregulation" became the latest "battle-cry" for opportunistic entrepreneurs out to make endless profits at a huge cost to hard-working Americans. Corporations and our Congress took the meaning of government lessai-faire to a new level of corruption.
Several months ago [September, 2008] the downfall of American markets and capitalism reach its tragic plateau when Wall Street plummeted, financial companies considered bankruptcy, home foreclosures reached record highs and the American auto industry "screeched to a halt" and all looked to the government for a socialist bail-out as a fix for their financial woes.
American businesses showed taxpayers that they wanted a hands-off capitalistic approach from government when things were going well, yet with the same aggressive spirit demanded government "bail-outs" when times became hard.
Hard-working taxpayers became hardly-working Americans, who were left on their own by a government who preferred and desired to provide billions of tax dollars to the greedy corporate and industrial profiteers who had already reaped huge profits during the good times.
Currently, the U.S. Congress still considers a top-down approach to boost the American economy, when in fact, it is a bottom-up relief approach that is needed to catalyze the American economy. Fortunately, President-Elect Obama publicly has called for the latter approach in an effort to provide new jobs via a public works proposal to rebuild our infrastructures, along with providing some relief to the financial sector and auto industry.
A case may be made that corruptive influences are at the root of our financial dilemma and governing problems and that on many levels those same forces still manage the direction of our nation. Unfortunately, one thing is certain. Corruption has been and will remain a way of life in America.
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