As unexpected as the sunrise

The latest scandal was as unexpected as the sunrise. Some birds have been indicted for paying bribes to get their hands on investments in New York State’s Pension Fund. One of President Obama’s major advisors may get caught up in this one.

It comes down to this. Let us say you are an investment manager. You would like some business from a state’s pension fund. You would like to manage some of the fund’s millions. For which you would collect a fee, of course.

Do you present your credentials? Do you show the pension people what superb gains you have made for other clients? Do you introduce your top people to impress the pension folks? Do you illustrate how brilliant your strategies have been? Nah. None of that matters much.

In most states you pay for the business. You bribe somebody. That is simply the way this type of business is done. The same is true with a lot of union pension money. The guys who get to manage it, and make the fees, are the guys who pay the bribes.

Are you shocked? If you were in the investment field you would not be. In that field you would soon learn such things.



Do you want to do a lot of business with the state? Do you want one of those no-bid contracts? Pay up. Write the check to whoever you are told to write the check to. Do not ask questions. Pay the money, here is your contract.

Do you want a job within the bureaucracy for your nephew? Grease the right palm.

Yes, we will see a few indictments here and there. Yes, we will send the odd guy to jail over these things. Usually he is somebody who crossed somebody. Otherwise he would have been left alone.

The prosecutors love to parade a few of these crooks before the cameras from time to time. Helps them look like evil-sniffing good guys. Helps them get re-elected.

Would you like a change in some regulations that would help you capture some major business here or overseas? Would you like some tinkering done with the tax code that would save you or your company many millions? Pay off the right politician. Donate to his charity. Or give big time to her campaign. Or stage a few big parties for the pol, maybe dinners at $5,000 a table.

Please do not see me as cynical. And please do not accuse me of exaggerating. This is how business is done in America. We live in a vast pay-to-play system. You cannot conduct major business with big unions and government in this country without paying somebody for the privelege.

You may not always pay the politician or his close henchmen. You will be told to pay a third or fourth party. Don’t worry, the money will find its way to the right people.

Some of the folks who demonstrated at the “Tea Parties” recently protested about this type of corruption. That was more appropriate than many of them realized.

At the original Boston Tea Party, protestors insisted they should not be taxed by a parliament - in Britain - which they did not elect. No taxation without representation was the cry. But that was only one of the complaints of the colonists. A broader complaint was that Parliament was corrupt. It was bought and sold by powerful companies and rich men.

No one could examine our state and federal legislatures and not see the same. Their votes are paid for.

A small but telling example: the recent vote to choke off funds for vouchers for something like 1,700 school kids in Washington, D.C. These are poor kids, mostly black. The vouchers let them escape the decrepit, disgusting public schools of D.C. The vouchers were their tickets to better educations in safer private schools. (The schools where the President and congressguys send their kids.) Congress voted to close the program. Voted to send these kids back to their rotten public schools.

How could the politicians be so cruel? They were bought. By the education unions. Simple as that. The education unions wallpaper certain politicians’ offices with money. When those unions want certain outcomes in the legislature they say jump and the politicians ask how high.

A good many of our politicians have attained the ultimate in corruption. They have grown so accostomed to doing business in this fashion they see nothing wrong with it.

From Tom... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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