August 11, 2009

The Case for Fixing Corruption First

Justin Katz

With the return of producer Maverick from vacation, Friday night's Violent Roundtable is now up on Matt Allen's PodCast page.

Somebody commented, after the show, that it was interesting to hear me respond to news from the Democrat representative from Cranston, Peter Palumbo, of a possible "Traditional Values Caucus" in the State House with the admonition that repairing Rhode Island's corrupt system must take precedence over all else. In case it wasn't clear what I was saying, it should be obvious that I'd support the goals and probably the actions of such a group.

I'm just very wary of being distracted by showmanship about social conservatism if it means that the things that'll destroy the state continue. Basically, I don't want conservatives being roped into the coalition of the corrupt because they're promised some thin gruel on causes about which they care. And there may be a danger, here, of being outmaneuvered by progressives if they can neutralize the importance of corruption issues because they have a "traditional values caucus" to run against. For one thing, it disrupts alliances with those who fancy themselves moderates.

Such a position relies upon a sort of holistic view of corruption: Although it has existed under every shade of government, structural corruption of our political system (e.g., statism) has arrived hand in hand with corruption of our morals. It's possible that things didn't have to progress in that manner, but I suspect that traditional values will not long survive in a politically corrupt system, in part because such a regime stokes envy and greed. But in a healthy system, the case for morality can be made to win, though non-governmental instruction and pressures, because it's correct.

It may be a choice between winning on political corruption with the real chance to strengthen traditional values and losing on political corruption only to see wins on social issues prove ephemeral.

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This is a real worry. Unfortunately for us, in RI, corruption is a traditional value. From colonial times - Rogue's Island and the Counterfeit State - to the Gilded Age - Lincoln Steffen's observation that RI is for sale and for sale cheap - this is truly nothing new.

I join you in insisting that the only traditional values we want the government to focus on is ethical behavior by elected officials and fiscal restraint.

Posted by: chuckR at August 12, 2009 2:05 PM
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