James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dawdling: Oh the irony unseen!

So I'm half watching a baseball game and glancing over the business section of my local newspaper when my eye is caught by a story I'd read earlier elsewhere. It's a New York Times piece on how Russia's Interior Ministry confiscated 167,500 cell phones shipped to Moscow by Motorola.

The real point of the story is what reporter Steven Lee Myers described as rampant corruption in Russia, where, he said, officials often take part in business ripoffs.

What really struck me, and brought an involuntary, if rueful, grin to my face, is the complete lack of recognition in the story or in the headlines of either newspaper of the inherent irony.

After five and a half years of the Bush, and the breakdown of regulatory and legislative oversight under at least three previous presidents and a Republican-controlled Congress, our own economy is wallowing in corruption. Corruption is its oxygen and its food. It is reasonable to ask whether American big business is capable any longer of operating in anything approaching an honest way.

In the United States of America, campaign contributions buy bid-free, unregulated government contracts. Business lobbyists almost literally own the administration and key members of Congress. Agencies created to regulate certain businesses for the health and safety of citizens routinely spit on the public interest and bypass, ignore or alter laws and rules for the sake of favored industries' profits. And a few golf trips will purchase the support of a committee chair against the public interest.

And our newspapers are concerned about a bit of business thievery in Russia?

Frankly, m'dear, we don't give a damn.