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Neither Ethics Nor Corruption Are Inherited
Monday, Oct. 11, 2010
When the headlines alert us to yet another public official headed off to jail, there is a temptation to cast all politicians in the same damaging light. Likewise, when the ethical problems occur in Philadelphia or New Jersey, people are apt to dismiss them by saying "it's always been that way."
I don't believe corruption is an inherited trait, nor do I think any city or state can be "written off" due to a history of unethical behavior.
Does North Carolina come to mind as a hotbed of corruption? Probably not. But in 2007 when former North Carolina house speaker Jim Black was convicted of corruption, his was the worst case in the state. He served a three-year prison sentence for accepting some $25,000 in bribes.
Corruption can occur in small and large cities, urban and rural. The population of a state does not determine a predisposition to politcal crime.
So while it's important to prosecute those who have broken the laws, it is also important to consider the message we send when accept corruption as "the way things are done."
The electorate must put aside their distaste and cynicism and instead focus on holding elected and appointed officials accountable for their actions.
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