It’s the legal plunder–not corruption–stupid

Everyone from Governor Corzine to the state's legislative leaders to the editorial writers to the man on the street expressed disgust with the corruption charges levied last week against several elected officials and government employees.

Advocates of so-called good government are incredulous that so many government officials have been taking bribes even after scores of elected officials have been jailed for various criminal activities during the past decade.

The Record of Hackensack editorial ("Black Thursday," July 24) decries the level of corruption in New Jersey and asserts the state's taxpayers "are paying a hidden, insidious tax. It is the corruption tax." The editorial, however, offers no evidence that the "corruption" tax increases property taxes orany tax or fee in New Jersey.

In fact, even though former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie successfully prosecutedscores of local and state officials for various acts of corruption,property taxes, the most visible and burdensome tax New Jerseyans pay, have not only not declined but continue to rise annually.

The most pervasive "corruption" in the State of New Jersey is the size and scope of government. Government spending has grown for decades, far exceeding the rate of inflation, making the tax burden in New Jersey one of the highest in the nation. And we have yet to see indictments of anyone involved in the scandal ridden $8.5 billion school construction fiasco and other state boondoggles.

In addition, government rules and regulations raise the cost of doing business in New Jersey, forcing business owners and executives to navigate–sometimes at great expense–the maze of red tape at all levels of government.

To help smooth the process of permits and other regulations, elected officials and/or bureaucrats are more than willing to cut through the red tape to move a project along…for a price. So who are the villains in the ongoing tale of New Jersey politics? Entrepreneurs who are creating wealth and jobs, or the politicians and their ilk who have their hand out to expedite permits, etc? To ask this question is to answer it.

In the meantime, politicians have been "bribing" voters for decades, and loving every moment. Their spiel goes something like this: Vote for us and we will get you money (coerced from taxpayers) to do "good." Politicians, of course, don't call benefits they bestow on the special interests bribes in exchange for their votes; they call it funding the needs of the citizenry. This is the real corruption in New Jersey and around the nation–robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Money coerced from taxpayers for a "noble" purpose goes the politically correct line is considered morally acceptable by left wingers inside and outside government-and even by advocates of "clean" government. Nonsense.

Redistributing income is more odious than whatsleazy politicians do–get a few thousand dollars into their own pockets, in exchange for helping a developer, while the tax system fleeces New Jersey taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars.

In short, "legal plunder" is considered morally superior to penny ante bribe taking.

However, if we really want to end low level political corruption in New Jersey and elsewhere, legal plunder must be abolished by streamlining the size and scope of government.

Good, big government is an oxymoron. Political favors will continue because human nature, being what it is, will not change as long the power of government is virtually unlimited.

AsLord Acton observed, "Power tends to corrupt and absolutely power tends to corrupt absolutely." Lord Acton must have had New Jersey-and present day America–in mind when he wrote those words in the 19th century.

It’s the legal plunder–not corruption–stupid