Confusion by Richard Bleil
Often it is a challenge to find topics to write about. Maybe I need to slow down. I’ve had this blog for well over a year now, and to date I’ve written almost 440 posts (this is my 439th).
Other days I have great ideas for posts, but not always at convenience times. Some ideas are good enough that I’ll remember them, other times I send myself a reminder. This is one of those moments. I sent myself an email with a subject header of “Conflict of Interest”. I had an idea, but do you suppose I remember what that was?
Well, let’s write on this topic and see what comes out, eh?
Unfortunately, we are embroiled in conflicts of interest today. I’m writing this before the impeachment vote in the Senate, but I’m assuming our president will not be removed from office (which, I have to admit, would be interesting to see how it works to physically take a president out of office, although it certainly would be a shame. But this president seems to embrace conflicts of interest. From day one there has been questions of violation of emoluments as he has refused to give up his business interests. Unfortunately, both political parties are more concerned with what is best for their parties than they are what is best for the American people. Neither vote in the House or the Senate should be anywhere near along party lines. In an ideal world, each representative would consider the evidence presented, and vote as Americans before they do Republican or Democrat.
But we know that won’t happen.
Plato wrote an interesting book called “Republic”. The goal of the book was to put together a hypothetical ideal government that would be free from conflicts of interest and the possibility of bribery. In essence, each government representative would receive no pay, and would be allowed to have no possessions including owning a piece of any business. In return, they would have to pay for no good or services whatsoever. The interesting thing about this work is that while Plato sets up the ideal for the government in the first half of the book, he tears it down in the second half explaining why it could never actually work. As I recall, basically they could never be free of conflicts of interest because of their loved ones. Everybody would still want to take care of their children and therefore would use their position to set up for their success (sound familiar?).
We all have conflicts of interest. I hate to admit it, but it’s the way we are built. If we were to take an evolutionary approach, conflicts of interest arise basically out of a need for survival. From a strictly biological perspective, the only purpose of life is propagation of our genetics (something at which I will have no doubt failed), and protecting our offspring is part of that biological imperative. But we have evolved beyond food, shelter, heat and protection.
I’m wondering if thinking of ourselves and our family first is such a bad thing. When we vote, we are supposed to be voting for what is, indeed, best for us as individuals so the vote will go to the benefit of the best of the majority of the people. Unfortunately, what is in the best interest of our politicians is to continue their careers by becoming re-elected, and the way to achieve that goal is to convince the majority of the people that a vote for them is indeed in their best interest. This is done in a variety of ways, including, unfortunately, lies.
The political parties also work towards continuing their careers by getting their people into office. People who vote by party, unfortunately, are not voting what is best for them because they’ve effectively given up their vote to their party. Frequently this party is the party of their parents, which means they don’t have to actually spend time and effort listening to the debates, what the politicians are saying, or paying attention to current events.
I don’t have a problem with people looking out for what is best for them and theirs. I do have a problem with what some people are willing to do to make that happen. Hoarding money, paying employees unfair wages and unethical practices for the mere purpose of hoarding more than they could possibly need. This attitude is what has lead to wealth inequity in our nation and corrupt politicians in office.
Maybe it’s time to vote all of them out of office, don’t you think?