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Politics

IN CHICAGO, CAPONE, DALEY DON’T TURN OVER IN THEIR GRAVES! TALES OF GREED ALL OVER.

Kudos to Governor Rod Blagojevich, the soon-to-be-former Governor of Illinois. He has out-slimed and out-dumbed former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy to become the second-dumbest (Bush The Younger is still with us) politician in the land, and one of the greediest. The guy was caught red-handed trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder. Perhaps not owning a calendar was his biggest mistake and Mr. Blagojevich thought it was still the 1930’s or the 1960’s, two Golden Ages of Chicago Political Corruption. In the 1930s gangsters like Al Capone bought local governments and operated their crime syndicates with flamboyant gusto. In the 1960s under Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, the government was the reigning crime syndicate. Dead men voted early and often and nobody stepped out of line. Everybody was on the take and nothing was on the level. Blagojevich wanted to bring that back.

Some beginning to a new millennium, eh? Here we have ourselves not just a whole new century, but a damned millennium, a thousand years of 2,000s, all fresh and clean, right out of the box, and what do we do? Screw it up with greed! We got here okay. The year 2000 came in with the world relatively peaceful, America enjoying prosperity and growth, and international relations pretty cordial for the most part. Mankind had a lot of hopes for this new millennium, sort of like a super-sized set of New Year’s resolutions. This would be the time when nations worked together to end starvation, fix global warming and peace and prosperity would rule the globe. The internet would bind us all together into a global community of equals, trading goods and exchanging ideas in good faith. People were getting downright maudlin at the thought of a new era of mutual respect and brotherhood.

Of course we were getting carried away, being only human. The world always seems to have serious problems, and the turn of the century was no exception. But the calendar did put a lot of us in the mindset of making a new beginning. Unfortunately, the euphoria honeymoon didn’t last very long. Osama bin Laden saw to that when he sent 19 born patsies crashing into America on September 11, 2001. So much for peace. Too bad for us we had just elected an amiable moron to the presidency who proceeded to screw up the war on terrorists and the good will of the rest of the world in more ways than anyone would have thought possible.

Attacking the wrong country, torturing prisoners and making war on his own citizens by stripping them of their rights, invading their privacy and imprisoning people without representation or actual charges set the bar very low as far as decent behavior goes. Awarding lucrative wartime contracts to administration cronies, underfunding regulatory agencies and ignoring the resulting epidemic of multibillion dollar business frauds lowered the behavior bar even further and pretty soon a whole bunch of corporations were all about nothing but greed. Unscrupulous thugs took over and substituted pyramid schemes for sound business practices, reaping huge personal fortunes for themselves and dooming their shareholders and investors to bankruptcy. 

These corporate gangsters took businesses that provided them and their kind  with a fabulous living for generations and would have kept doing so for generations to come but they decided that wasn’t enough. Their only goal was more, and right now! They voted themselves obscene bonuses, gave one another sweetheart stock options and convinced themselves that private jets were owed to them. Like any other addiction, greed can never be satisfied. The drunk sobers up and needs another drink. The junkie needs his shot. The greedy acquire all that most people could ever dream of and they figure that’s a good start. And when another greedy man gets something valuable, all the other greedy men want the same, only better, bigger, shinier, louder! Greed is a black hole with no bottom and there’s no filling it, not ever. Those stricken with greed can never seek anything but more.

Which is fine if you’re not costing anybody else any money to support your habit. There have been lots of greedy people who have never done any harm to society. They acquire or inherit tons of money and spend their own dough to buy all sorts of crazy luxuries and live their lives imprisoned by their greed, but don’t hurt anyone else in the process. And then there are those who steal to support their greed habit, no different from a desperate junkie who crosses the line into criminality to get his fix. These corporate princes and greedy politicians, though, are not stealing car radios or snatching purses. They’re ruining industries upon which millions of workers depend for their paychecks and selling Senate seats and judgeships that belong to the people of this country and are not theirs to sell. 

And for what? More? More what? You see how these people live and the things that they have and you wonder what else they could possibly want. And the only answer is more. There is no appreciation, no enjoyment, no savoring of the finer things and no sense of satisfaction for the greedy. There is only the drive to get more by any means necessary. If you’ve got the money and don’t hurt anyone else, more power to you. But that’s not the case with these corporate princes who are like so many kings and emperors before them who ruined their nations for gold, jewels and prohibitively expensive monuments to themselves. Like those kings, they ruined things not only for themselves, but for those dependent upon them and their successors as well. Greed kills, and it takes others with it. And we have a small-minded small timer who somehow got elected Governor of Illinois to thank for this latest reminder of this devastating epidemic messing up our brand new millennium.

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