Elemental corruption

Remember the periodic table of elements in your chemistry book? H for Hydrogen. L for Lithium, etc. Maybe we ought to add one: NY. For corruption.

We should. It is elemental. Just like Oxygen and Nitrogen. We could fit it into the chart next to Gallium. Because it takes gall to practice it before our eyes. It galls us to read about it.

We read about it this week. The governor had set up the Moreland Commission. To dig into corruption in the state. But when it dug in his back yard he changed his mind. When it dug near his cronies he shut it down.

And we read that maybe the Independent Party endorsed him in return for no-show jobs.

Now pick yourself up from the floor. I know this is horribly shocking news for you. It crushes you to imagine that there is a smidgen of corruption in this state.

My modest proposal is to end this. Not to end the corruption. Nobody could end that. It is, indeed, as elemental in the state as the oxygen and nitrogen we learn about. My proposal is to end the innocence.



We should teach kids about New York corruption. We teach them about Niagara Falls and the Erie Canal. How about a semester devoted to New York’s long and glorious history of corruption. Maybe forget about the history. How about current every day corruption.

For instance, there are hundreds of no-show jobs in the state governmental machine. Maybe thousands. Guys who work for the political parties get appointed to them. As a reward for their work for the party.

The jobs usually have mish-mash names. The Director of Inter-Departmental Relations. The Supervisory Assistant to… You get the idea.

They get paid. They collect benefits. But they do no work. Not for government. Their only work is for the party machines.

I chatted with one from Syracuse at a political barbeque. He had had a few too many beers. And I was an innocent.

I asked him what he did for a living. He gave me his job title. Okay. But what exactly did the job entail? “Oh, a little of this. A little of that.”

Okay. But what did he actually do for the government? What responsibilities did he have?

He dodged a few more questions and finally admitted “Well, you know, I’m not really sure.” Truth was that he got paid by the state to do what the party bosses told him to do. And what they told him to do had zero to do with government. Or with his job title. He did party work.

These guys pull down good money. They have nice careers. But you won’t see this type of career listed in your high school guidance counselor’s office. Your college jobs advisor won’t tell your son to look for this kind of work.

Maybe we should change that. We should be proud of this corruption. It has kept this state at the forefront of corruption for generations. It has launched the careers of many district attorneys. We should stitch “Pay to Play” onto the state flag.

The subject reminds me that humorist Will Rogers said we should have sympathy for politicians out of work. Because they just wanted to get back in on the graft.

It reminds me that some people think we should look for more candidates like Bloomy and Rockefeller. Because they are too rich to be bought.

It reminds me of the old lines: He may be a crook but he’s our kind of crook. Best politicians money can buy.

It reminds me that sure, we want to fight corruption. Sure, we love to see politicians land in jail. But nailing a few corrupt pols is like swatting flies on the back porch. You get a few. But the supply never ends.

This state deserves more respect. We deserve more recognition. We should push for NY to be added to that periodic table of elements. Corruption. New York. Elemental, my dear Watson.

From Tom...as in Morgan.

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