The Progressives' Achilles' Heel

Growth in government power always causes corruption and injustice.

Mr Obama and other Democrats keep telling us how badly they want our government to do more for us, to take care of more people, and how they want to start new programs to give all of us whatever we need, all at someone else's expense, of course.

In discussing criminal charges which have been brought against Mr. Sheldon Silver, leader of the New York State Assembly, The New York Times explained why letting government do more for us is a bad idea:

Mr. Silver had for years been running two parallel schemes to cash in on his political power, the complaint says.

One of them involved real estate, an enormously important industry in New York City, which Albany regulates and rewards - alternately giving, through tax breaks and subsidies, and taking, through rent control laws. As a result, major developers spend millions lobbying and donating to the treasuries of politicians like Mr. Silver and to committees like the Assembly Democratic campaign, which he oversees...  [emphasis added]

In a separate and far more lucrative scheme, the complaint charges, Mr. Silver earned $3.9 million in referral fees for asbestos-related cases he steered to Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm that has employed him since 2002. The cases were sent to the law firm by a doctor to whom Mr. Silver, in exchange for the work, directed $500,000 in state funds, the complaint says.

A person briefed on the investigation confirmed that the doctor in question is Robert N. Taub, director of the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center.

The second source of Mr. Silver's income is a long-running scam by trial lawyers who're protected by Democratic politicians whom they pay to block all attempts at "tort reform."

Although many claims of injury are legitimate, ambitious lawyers troll for people who'll claim to have breathed asbestos and doctors who'll verify the injuries.  Some claimants go after many firms that used asbestos, each time claiming that they were exposed to asbestos only at the target firm.  Mr. Silver's being paid $3.9 million in referral fees shows just how lucrative scamming the system can be, and we're sure that his kicking in a half-million in state money helped convince the doctor to go along with him.

Corruption Rooted in Regulation

People have to remember that in order for the government to provide any sort of benefits, the government has to take control of that part of the economy.  Giving away college degrees requires that the government take control of the education system, for example.  The first source the Times listed shows the opportunities for corruption which are inherent in any and all government regulations.

Mr. Silver was paid to bend the enormously complex rules governing New York real estate.  This isn't unusual.  When Rep. Wrangel was found to have "forgotten" to pay income tax on rental income from his overseas condo, he was also found to have 4 rent-controlled apartments even though the law permits one controlled apartment per renter.  What favors did Rep. Wrangel do for the building owner in return?

Early in the Obama administration, ex-Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion was appointed director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs.  He was later found to have received thousands of dollars in "campaign contributions" in return for approving zoning variances or directing government money to building projects.

It's quite simple: Property owners wished to build but zoning regulations prohibited them from doing so.  Before they could legally begin the project, they had to get the permission of the political authority, none other than Mr. Carrion.  And if they could convince him to chip in taxpayer money, so much the better.

What's the simplest way to make a politician cooperative?  A nice fat check to their campaign fund, just like a banana republic.

These scandals are possible only because many years ago, Americans were somehow convinced that government had a right to tell you that you could not build on property you owned.  Why must we kiss the ring of the zoning board before building anything?

We've Lost Our Mojo

When Mr. Carrion's bribe-taking was exposed, many builders and other citizens were quick to defend him, pointing out that if he hadn't expedited their zoning requests, nothing could have been built.  There is much merit to that statement, of course.  We've explained how it took 14 years to start a project to upgrade a Colorado highway.

The Boston Herald has been discussing the possibility that the 2024 Summer Olympics might be held in Boston.  Many members of the committee supporting this concept represent construction firms who stand to make a bundle if the sports facilities are built.  The Herald said:

.According to the bid, Boston 2024 also "will pursue omnibus state legislation" to bypass state and local permitting for Olympic developments...

The builders are well aware that the 9 years between now and when the Olympics will open isn't nearly enough time to build the Olympic facilities if they have to go through the approval process.  The Herald says that the builders plan to influence state legislators to allow them to bypass the process for anything related to the Olympics.

How much bribe money will find its way into legislators' pockets?  How many profitable projects which are only vaguely related to the Olympics will skip the permitting process?  How many millions of dollars will the construction companies save by not having to jump through a decade's worth of hoops?

No Olympics has ever stayed on budget.  The committee knows that no matter what they promise, taxpayers will have to cover the extravagant cost of the Olympic extravaganza.  How much taxpayer money will find its way into projects which generate more private profit than Olympic activity?

Progressives can't implement their wonderful plans without passing laws which tell us what we can't do and what we must do.  Most such laws turn out to be politicians' schemes to steal our rights and sell them back to connected people in return for bribes.

That's why we're opposed to more government regulation of anything.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Reader Comments

The article is of no surprise to me. What is somewhat surprising is that we the people allow these crooks to exist. Everyone knows about it but they will not do anything about it. Is there not one honest politician out there who will expose these crooks and run against them? I can only hope that more will follow Scott Walker's lead and bring conservatism to the table and tell the people the flaws in the liberal's system and how it hurts the people and then explain his answer without pulling any punches. A true conservative will normally win a race as Walker has shown by his being elected 3 times in a 5 year period with left throwing everything against him.

January 31, 2015 2:35 AM

Sounds like the return of Tammany Hall, which also influenced legislatures and courts to keep in power, but now a more durable variety which has secured the assistance of the mass media to protect it.

The only antidote for this scourge is to find courageous leaders who will oppose these bums and get this country back on the right track.

February 1, 2015 6:40 AM
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