Tag: tacit quid pro quo

Geithner and Bybee: how legal corruption works

On Monday, the New York Times front-paged a long, detailed investigative article on Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary who is looting the nation’s public funds to enrich Wall Street executives. Not surprisingly, the article points out that Tim has lots of pals on Wall Street. What is a surprise is that he was offered the job of head of Citigroup in 2007 while serving as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. You got that right: one of the chief “regulators” of the banking industry was offered a highly lucrative position as the head of one of the banks he was regulating.

What the NYT article does not point out is that this is how the stealthy corruption of our public officials works. Geithner was not just offered a job, he was implicitly offered assurance that Wall Street would take care of him financially as long as he took care of Wall Street. If Geithner had been busting heads and cracking down on Citigroup’s policies, he never would have received such an offer, and the implication of the offer was that if he started to crack down he would never again receive a similar offer. Geithner’s willingness to play ball with Wall Street led to his installation as Treasury Secretary, and now we see the fruits of “deep capture” of that high office: a lavish give-away program that has Wall Street salaries soaring again while the nation remains mired in recession and record setting deficits are funneling taxpayer cash into “private sector” institutions.

Just a few days earlier, the Washington Post ran an article on Judge Bybee, the issuer of an infamous White House opinion “legalizing” torture. It seems Judge Bybee was promised an appointment to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, but first Gonzales wanted him to do a little bit of dirty work in the Office of Legal Counsel. Of course there was never an explicit deal, but the torture was approved, and the judgeship granted. Bybee knew that if he had antagonized the Bush administration by resisting their demands to make torture legal he could kiss his seat on the bench goodbye. So he did the dirty deeds.

The perfection of legalized corruption is the main reason why no change of elected officials will clean up the United States government. The practice of controlling politicians and political appointees with tacit quid pro quos is legally impregnable. Only far-reaching reforms requiring rigid separation of public and private sector careers can overcome this stealthy form of corruption, and it is the corrupted politicians who would have to pass these laws. A new form of government must arise to end the insidious and destructive practices of stealthy, legal corruption. Building this new governmental structure should be the political goal of the citizens of the world. My book-in-progress on the Netstate is one step towards that goal. The first chapter can be read here: