Today, ReclaimNY.org shares the major concerns our founders had over 241 years ago when conceiving our nation and its unique system of self-governance.
What worried our founding fathers the most was not England’s army or even sacrificing their own personal fortunes and security. What they doubted more were individuals levels of goodness and integrity and societies ability to maintain those traits in high enough order to secure and preserve our own liberty. James Madison said, in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Today, our angels are few and far between. Accordingly, the laws and regulations government produces are mostly designed to thwart evildoers instead of encouraging noble behavior.
Here in New York, we have seen what happens when those of dubious character become lawmakers. No fewer than 30 elected officials have been arrested and convicted of crimes in the recent past. The infamous project dubbed the Buffalo Billion is awash with scandal and currently more than half a dozen individuals are under indictment for various illegalities involving graft, larceny and conspiracy, including Joe Percoco, long time Cuomo family friend, confidant and close advisor to current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
According to Politifact.com, researchers from the University of Missouri have compiled a database that focuses specifically on public corruption at the state level across the country. Their findings? New York is the most corrupt state government in the union, and has held this title exclusively since at least 1986. The article goes on to state: “Historically, New York has struggled with corruption and continues to do so,” said Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. “While measuring corruption is a challenge, I think it’s fair to say that New York remains one of the most corrupt states if not the most corrupt state.”
The corruption in New York State is likely rooted in culture, Rodgers says.
“Much of corruption is cultural, and in New York that means that you have to think about the way the New York political system has developed over more than 200 years,” Rodgers said. “So you start with these corrupt political machines like Tammany Hall, and over time the problem replicates itself as the next generation figures out how things work and how much corruption will be tolerated, and so on down the line.
As reported in Crainsnewyork.com, consider the words of former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara during a speech to the Citizens Crime Commission in Manhattan.
“It increasingly seems that the best way to find Albany on a map is to look for the intersection of greed and corruption,” Mr. Bharara said. “So is corruption in New York rampant? And is it worse than it is elsewhere? And I think all the available evidence says that the answer, sadly, is yes.”
One way to expose corruption is to make government at all levels transparently accountable. The ReclaimNY.org website provides a simple and easy way in which any of us can get involved. Click on the link word “transparency” at the top of the page and there you can either view your local government or school district’s check book, or if it is not already published, use the “Send Your Government a FOIL Request” button and get involved.
The wisdom of Madison in recognizing our own shortcomings can lead to only one real solution; our renewed accountability to God Almighty and the faith we establish in our belief that we were born in His image and need to pray for His divine guidance. Without a divine and absolute moral guidepost, everything is negotiable and nothing is sacred. The absence of a divine authority allows corruption to flourish and as Edmund Burke reminds us, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men do nothing”.
Join those of us who are involved with ReclaimNY.org and get involved. When good people do something positive, God may save our state and our nation.