Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ethics And Politics?

Yes, though strange befellows they may be, it looks like some people are trying to arrange a marriage between the most unlikely of partners: Ethics and politics.

This brings to mind the old joke - How do you know if a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.
Also bings up a new joke - How do you know if a politician is acting ethically? Their lips are moving, but no forks are involved, and they are standing.


In the U.S. the 2007 'Honest Leadership and Open Government Act' has had what some would consider a strange effect on the current electioneering process. As reported in the NY Times article "Corporations and convention party planners are scrambling to comply with sweeping ethics rules in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 that prohibit lobbyists from paying for gifts, including meals and music, for members of Congress and their staffs." Some lobbyists are finding it so hard to work out what is allowed (hence ethical) that they are having to resort to talking to lawyers to find loopholes to exploit. And in the worse case scenario, the poor lobbyists have had to cancel events.

Boo hoo. In a system where there are more lobbyists than congresspeople and where almost US$3,000,000,000 was spent on lobbying politicians in one year, perhaps these parasites, predators and vermin can do with a little less food, and a little more self reflection.

Whether legislating 'ethics' will actually work or not, is a different question. As we all know, basing laws on good intentions can have some horrible results. As the old saying goes, if you outlaw ethics, only the outlaws will have ethics. Spooky eh?

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