Friday, March 6, 2009

We All Live, More Or Less, In Illinois

The antics of now thankfully former Governor Rod Blagojevich—and the jailing of his predecessor and two other former Illinois governors for corruption—resulted in the perception that Illinois is the most corrupt state.

As an FBI agent commented when the infamous tapes of Blagojevich were presented: “If it is not the most corrupt state in the United States, Illinois is certainly one hell of a competitor.”

Following that, the New York Times devoted nearly a full page to listings of comparative corruption among states.

One chart was based on local, state and federal officials convicted of federal corruption charges between 1996 and 2007. Florida topped the list followed by New York and Texas. As for my neighboring state of Connecticut—sometimes called Corrupticut after the jailing for corruption of former Governor John Rowland—it was smack in the middle, 26.

Then there was a chart based on convicted public officials per one million constituents. This was described as “perhaps a better measure”—crookedness based on one-person, one vote.

Well, North Dakota topped that list, with Alaska second—you betcha.

Then there was a chart based on the views of journalists who cover state governments. In their minds, Rhode Island, which also not long ago had a governor jailed for corruption, was Number One. Louisiana, Two. New York was pretty well down on that list—16, even below Connecticut, 12.

Back to Illinois, Chicago and that long-corrupt county in which the windy city sits, Cook County. There was a kind of contest as last year ended, on the website on Cook County’s Most Corrupt Activities of 2008.

Among the top were, of course, Blagojevich’s attempted sale of now President Obama’s Senate seat.

Also on the list was the enactment of a hefty sales tax increase—giving Cook County the highest sales tax in the country: 10.25%. Ouch.

Yeah, we pay for corruption in many ways.

Which takes us to Wall Street’s now fallen financial lions, the failed bank tycoons, the other corporate crooks in the tradition of Enron, etc.

Corrupt politicians. Corrupt financial titans.

It’s like comparing typhoid and malaria.

Both must be eradicated.

If there’s to be a civilized society there needs to be integrity and honesty.

At this point, we all live, more or less, in Illinois.

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