Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption

Bill Curry is wondering why corruption is the center of debate or upheaval in every country but ours. He writes that, “Hardly a week goes by without a front-page report of a government toppled or convulsed by corruption scandals.”

Why not our country? Reasons abound. One is that corruption has been institutionalized. It is much more systematic than merely putting cash in an envelope to get a procurement contract from public officials.

Curry, a former Connecticut state Senator, elected state Comptroller, and counsellor to President Bill Clinton, argues that the people hate corruption but are not given its true costs.  Curry says, “As Connecticut Comptroller I learned how to count it. An example: a single corrupt bargain struck with health insurers cost the state $1.5 billion, an amount equal to the record deficit our current governor faced on taking office in 2011. There was never a prosecution.”

The ways private commercial interests corrupt public officials are well known. They come by way of exploding campaign funding, lobbyists with gifts swarming over legislatures, speaking fees, revolving doors for corporatists taking key government positions to thwart law enforcement, and lucrative offers to lawmakers in anticipation of their retirement. All these lures are much more persuasive when the general public is quiet and unorganized.

Legalized corruption is all over Washington, D.C. as trillions of dollars of giveaways, subsidies, bailouts, and no-bid contracts proliferate. Did you know that both domestic and foreign mining companies are allowed to explore your federal public lands for minerals? Under an obsolete 1872 mining law, defended by the American Mining Congress, companies have discovered gold, silver, molybdenum, and other ”hard-rock minerals” on our public lands and pay no more than $5 an acre to mine and sell these valuable minerals, without paying any royalties back to the U.S. Treasury.

For example, according to a 1994 report by the Mineral Policy Institute, American Barrick Resources Corporation of Canada – a Canadian gold company—received “patents” on 1,038 acres. The Mineral Policy Center explains that a “patent” as follows: “A company that discovers a valuable mineral deposit on its claim can “patent,” or gain fee title to, the land for a price not to exceed $5.00 per acre. Upon patent issuance, title to public lands is transferred to private ownership.” Barrick “purchased” the 1,038 acres for $5,190 or $5 per acre. Those acres held mineral reserves valued at more than $10 billion. Quite a return on investment for long-standing institutionalized corruption made possible by campaign cash, wining and dining, and other goodies.  Where is the organized opposition to this robbing of our country’s commonwealth? No other country in the world gives away its hard-rock minerals for free.

Curry maintains that the two major parties are on the same page with corruption. Their political consultants like corporate giveaways because they make most of their money consulting for corporations. The media, he says “is so unattuned to the issue it doesn’t even include it in Election Day exit polls that ask voters to pick their top concerns from a list of 17 issues.” When one pollster put “corruption” on the list in 2009 and 2010, guess what, “it finished first both times, beating out ‘jobs and the economy’ in the teeth of the recession.”

Why is corruption at the top? Because most people know that corruption is the problem that turns government against the people. Corruption affects taxes, waste, health care, drug prices, credit gouging, energy conversion, upgrading public facilities, living wages and cracking down on corporate crime, fraud, and obscene corporate welfare (crony capitalism.) It is behind luscious contracts to the military hardware services industry that President Eisenhower warned about in his 1961 farewell address. Corruption also primes the pump for criminal wars of aggression such as the war in Iraq—by unaccountable politicians like war criminals Bush and Cheney.

It is not a coincidence, Curry relates, that countries like those in western Europe which have less public corruption and more honest procurement contracting practices also have higher standards of living and health than we do.

Curry is fed up, has fire in his belly, and wants action.

Taking off from his past writings and experience over the years and a recent roundtable discussion we had in Washington on massive public and private billing fraud, he has drafted a “call to action” seeking a quantification and analysis of the corruption epidemic, “followed by a strategy for building a movement and influencing media and political elites.”

The next step in mobilizing, he urges, would be “a national conference in Washington this fall to which every institution active in this issue is invited and asked to adopt a declaration to commit to a fight.”

Are any foundations or enlightened people of means committed to this fundamental turnaround in our political economy and its immense, prompt benefits? After all, when so much that is wrong is made “legal” or “plausible” by corrupt lawmakers, the peoples’ focus can be quite efficient—535 members of Congress and 7,383 state lawmakers for one gigantic jumpstart in a key election year!

If you want more information from Bill Curry, please contact him at billcurryct@gmail.com.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail