Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tely Trouble I

As for the root cause of the Danvirus, don't look to the Telegram for answers. Wangersky's column in today's paper is a depressing statement of how the media have bought the Dangovt brand every bit as much as the corrupt bagmen whom they blame for everything.:

By arguing that DW's wealth makes him immune from corruption, Wangersky shows an almost comic lack of analytical insight or knowledge of how political power actually operates. Whether DW is personally wealthy does not, for a second, mean that he is less liable to engage in corruption than a premier with a smaller bank account. Numerous academic studies, which can be read in popular books by Malcolm Gladwell and others, shows precisely the opposite: when given the opportunity, wealthy people will steal and cheat just as much (and, in some studies, even more) than poorer people. The reasons are unclear -- some scholars specular that it's part of a mentality of entitlement (and there is no lack of stories from corporate America to illustrate this) -- but the underlying cause is beside the point.

The point is that Wangersky, et al., need to rid themselves of the false notion that DW is somehow special because he is rich, that he is somehow less inclined to be corrupt because he doesn't need the money. One could, in fact, argue directly the oppposite: DW's wealth and sense of privilege make him less sensitive to democratic niceties, such as freedom of information legislation or a functioning legislative assembly. And, finally, someone tell Wagernsky that corruption in politics is as much about enriching your friends as about getting rich yourself. Wealth is, in the end, all about status, and there is no better way to enhance your status than taking care of your buddies.

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