Friday, March 07, 2008

One Bad Apple Can Spoil the Entire Barrel

The tentacles of corruption run very deep in Oklahoma. My theory is that due to the nature of how we became a state, Oklahoma attracted some very unsavory people, and let's just say the the apple never falls far from the tree.

Pictured are just a few examples of corruption. First is convicted former State Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher. Second is the infamous Gene Stipe currently charged with numerous crimes of corruption. Third is former Governor David Hall who plea bargained his way out of a jail term. Fourth is the Kingfish, Huey Long, not of Oklahoma fame, but certainly associated with Louisiana corruption on a large scale. And lastly is former Governor David Hall, who I personally met briefly as he was helping his daughter move into Bennett Hall at OSU in 1974 just a few weeks before he was to start serving his sentence.

According to the FBI, Oklahoma has the distinction of having the largest political corruption scandal in the history of the United States. During the 1970's a majority of the county commissioners were convicted of corruption, including taking bribes and kickbacks. To this day, there are still few controls on each county's 3 county commissioners!

In Oklahoma History, I learned that Oklahoma had impeached so many of our territorial governors, that one more would have jeopardized our status as a state.

Just like a spoiled apple or potato will spoil all the rest in the bag it comes in contact with, so too does political corruption. As with the bag of potatoes, sometimes it becomes necessary to throw out the whole bag and get a new one.

We know that corruption is a reality in our politics. Now the rot continues to spread. It is commonplace to see someone charged with embezzlement. Banks, churches, businesses, schools, you name it and its there. We see long time politicians get term limited out of office and suddenly they get cushy jobs that take a political appointment. Or they turn right around an start a PAC and become a lobbyist. We also see it when the same contractors are awarded contracts for public projects. And the list goes on and on.

Term limits have helped flush out some corruption. It was a start. We should ban any retirement programs for "public service". It should be just that, service. I don't mind that they get paid something reasonable, but it should never be considered a career with retirement benefits. I think our society as a whole would be better served and we would have better checks and balances, if we saw regular turnover in all levels of politics.

No comments: