Saturday, April 3, 2010

Government Corruption Watch, Part III

George Orwell's Animal Farm is famous for showing how the revolutionary zeal of the animals begins to wane after they take over the farm and the slogan "All animals are equal" is eventually amended by adding "But some animals are more equal than others." The same is true for the American government. Investor's Business Daily recently opined about the corrupt favoritism shown by Obama's education secretary when he was in charge of Chicago's miserable government school system:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan taught us Orwell this week, showing how some are more equal than others with his VIP list for admission to Chicago's best schools. ...Duncan...didn't quite persuade that city's well-connected elites of the value of his reforms, given the number who sought placement in the district's better schools. Duncan insists it was just an appeals list on which parents could place kids who didn't make it into the schools they wanted. He says that he didn't do any lobbying for special placements. ...But that argument doesn't hold water, given that the list was kept secret from the public and Duncan's initials appeared on 50 placement appeals, along with those of his wife, his mother and other political insiders with the clout to decide who got onto the list. Duncan's staff also made calls to principals. So those initials wouldn't carry any weight now, would they? And if they meant nothing, why were they there at all? The Tribune, which broke the story, noted that parents have long suspected Chicago's public school system of being rigged in favor of the connected, based on experience. The paper found that at least one student placed on the VIP list by Duncan's pal, former Democratic U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, made it into an elite school with substandard admissions scores. ...Instead of taking on the unions, demanding performance, and shutting down bad schools, Duncan declared victory and permitted special placements to shield his friends from the impact of his liberal policies. Given the government takeovers in the private sector, it's a sign of a growing problem coming down the pipeline, of two-tier systems to distribute spoils. Special privileges for the cronies, slop for the middle class.
Special access for powerful insiders is inevitable when government has too much power, so Duncan's corrupt behavior is hardly surprising. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal applies this lesson to healthcare and poses a very relevant question:

If you and Larry Summers both get sick and need a treatment that the Medicare Advisory Commission (dysphemistically known as the Death Panel) deems too expensive, what are the odds that you'll find a way to get it anyway and he won't? How about the other way around? In the Soviet Union, those privileged by political connections were called the nomenklatura. Here, we can call it the Obamaklatura.

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