Brian Irving: Legal corruption

December 5, 2013 

The News & Observer performed another admirable public service by exposing the exorbitant salaries being paid to select state government employees and the manipulation of the law to increase their pensions in your “Checks without balances” series. The N&O called this practice “pension padding.” Libertarians call it corruption.

Most of the time, people think of government corruption as a politician taking bribes or kickbacks in exchange for their vote or using their power illegally for private gain. But corruption isn’t always about money. And it does not necessarily involve doing something illegal. The pension padding didn’t violate any laws or regulations. It is corruption nonetheless. Every government program is prone to corruption because it is organized and operated on the basis of who has the most political influence and power.

The fact that elected officials say they did not know about the practice is no excuse; in fact, it makes them either corrupt or incompetent. If they did not know, they should have known and weren’t doing their job. If they did know, they’re complicit in the corruption.

Lord Acton’s famous observation of human nature, “power tends to corrupt,” applies to anyone, not just politicians.

Brian Irving

Communications director, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Cary

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