Dealing with Fears of Corruption When Businessfolk Go into Government

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Unable to keep pace with the steady flow of scandals with which his opposition is attempting to tar President-elect Trump, allow me to turn back a bit, to this Jean Eaglesham article from the Wall Street Journal last week:

The debts of President-elect Donald Trump and his businesses are scattered across Wall Street banks, mutual funds and other financial institutions, broadening the tangle of interests that pose potential conflicts for the incoming president’s administration.

Although our exiting president is something of an exception, we’d tend to expect that people who run for and win the office of President of the United States would have been successful at something before doing so.  The main difference with Trump is that his something is in the private sector, rather than government, and we have for some reason fallen into this too-narrow concept of corruption that takes money to be the only lure and the private sector the only source.

This is a perspective that I’ve noted in Rhode Island, with an Ethics Commission that holds that unethical actions become washed of their stain as long as everybody involved is in government.  The same lawyer can both represent a government official and advise the body judging that official as long as he is, himself, a government official.  Similarly, the stain of corruption is generally less remarked when it is the matter of delayed gratification, so to speak, and an elected official offer favors for a job to be delivered after he or she has left office.

The insinuation of the article about Trump’s debt appears to be that we should only elect people who’ve got no debts or legacy obligations outside of government.  Owing people for jobs, money, political help, or pure investment with power is not of concern at all when it doesn’t involve any industries but government.

Obviously, this becomes more of a problem the more government presumes to do and the more it becomes a key industry in the economy.  That is, most of all, this concern is really just more evidence that government should be limited in its power.  Yes, we ought to keep a very close eye on President Trump and the motivation for his decisions, but it only seems like an insurmountable problem because those decisions are so plentiful and far-reaching.



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