Intellectual and Policy Corruption; Team Obama Rewards Its Friends, Punishes Its Foes
Byline: Richard W. Rahn, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Government corruption can take many forms. Last week, most of those forms could be seen in the actions of the Obama administration - everything from government officials taking simple bribes, to covering up wrongdoing, to using taxpayer money to pay off political supporters, to using government prosecutors to punish enemies, to failing to fulfill its fiduciary duty to citizens by not performing cost-benefit analyses before taking actions. Promulgating policies that knowingly hurt millions of people is far more serious than a government official requesting a cash bribe - as despicable as that may be. Pushing for tax increases without first getting rid of counterproductive or useless programs and cleaning up mismanagement is an example of policy corruption.
The results of the extensive moral, intellectual and policy corruption in the United States in recent years can be seen readily in the accompanying chart, which includes data from both right- and left-leaning organizations. According to the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal measure of economic freedom, the United States has fallen from No. 6 to No. 10 since the end of the George W. Bush administration in 2009. The U.S. also has dropped rank in the ease of doing business, as measured by the World Bank, and in global competitiveness, as measured by the World Economic Forum.
The United States has dropped from No. 19 to No. 24 in Transparency International's corruption index over the past three years. Reporters Without Borders' index shows an enormous drop in press freedom in the U.S. over the past three years, from a ranking of No. 20 to a dreadful No. 47.
As a result of policy corruption, specifically failing to make sure government spending and regulations meet reasonable cost-benefit tests, employment and income growth have lagged, with most Americans reporting lower after-inflation adjusted incomes than four years ago.
The Obama administration seems to have little regard for the rule of law. In hearings before Congress last week, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. continued his cover-up in the Fast and Furious guns-to-drug-dealers' scandal.
As you may recall, a couple of years ago, the Obama administration was giving grants to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). This organization was shown to be thoroughly corrupt, causing Congress to prohibit it from receiving grants. Now, the Justice Department is requiring the Bank of America, as part of its settlement for alleged lending discrimination, to make large contributions to leftist groups that are not connected to the suit, including groups that are little more than renamed ACORNs. Other banks also are being pressured to make similar settlements. …