[EDITORIAL NOTE: Thank you for all the requests for a copy of Rick Gillis's book, The Real Secret to Finding a Job. The winners are Juanita Weisbrich, James Whaley and Sandra Mosely. I wish I could send copies to everyone, but that's not possible. It is available for purchase here.]
These days, Crabby Old Lady feels like Diogenes roaming not Athens, but the internet looking for an honest man among political leaders, public officials, business executives, celebrity role models and the media itself. Hardly a day goes by when Crabby is not greeted in the morning with news of another egregious transgression. If it's not outright crime, then it is lies, deceit, hypocrisy and fraud. And that doesn't count the demented. (Birthers, anyone?)
August is traditionally the season for crackpots. “The dog days,” it's been called. Well, not this year. The deadly serious battle over health care reform is just getting underway. It's not pretty, with town hall meetings becoming violent, and Crabby doesn't expect it to get any better over the next few weeks.
But that is just one of a long-term, ongoing series of events that seem to be increasing in number and lead Crabby to believe there is no one in an influential position in government or the private sector who can be trusted. A few examples, in varying degrees of perversity that you are probably familiar with:
- A lobbying firm forged letters to Congress members urging opposition to climate change legislation, making it appear the letters were from minority groups.
- Until it became a media item last month, the state of North Carolina had been charging sexual assault victims for their rape kits, as did the city of Wasilla during Sarah Palin's tenure as mayor.
- In separate incidents, a Philadelphia police officer and two Atlanta police officers used government computers to run unauthorized background checks on President Obama.
- As of Saturday, there is still at least one Republican congressman who doesn't believe President Obama was born in Hawaii. (This more properly falls into the wacko category, but it is disturbing that someone either this venal or stupid - take your pick - was elected.)
- A Boston police officer, a man charged with upholding the law for all citizens, referred to Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as a “jungle monkey.”
- Mark Sanford, John Ensign, John Edwards, Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, James McGreevey, Mark Foley, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton and a whole lot of others: why can't politicians keep it in their pants?
Crabby Old Lady doesn't care who these people have sex with; she doesn't believe that should be of public interest. But their hypocrisy about it is. Many of them, at every public opportunity, brayed about their belief in god which presumably includes the ten commandments. Crabby can only conclude they are equally hypocritical about their political acts.
- Sports stars regularly use performance-enhancing drugs and pay no more price that a suspension from a few games.
- Glenn Beck said President Obama is a racist and called for poisoning Nancy Pelosi.
- Rush Limbaugh compared the Democratic Party to Nazi Germany.
- Sarah Palin said the Democrats' health care reform would lead to her baby with Down Syndrome having to "stand in front of Obama's death panel."
- Last Wednesday, Congressman William J. Jefferson of Louisiana was convicted in federal court of bribery. He's the guy found with $90,000 in cash in his freezer.
- Medicare fraud costs American taxpayers billions of dollars every year. Physicians, the people we trust to care for our health, do this.
- After nearly bringing the world to its economic knees, Wall Street firms accepted hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout and rescue funds and then, having suffered no consequences, further enriched themselves with billions in bonuses. No one stops this.
- It appears that angry, supposedly grass-roots demonstrations against health care reform may be funded and encouraged by health care organizations.
- Congress members who are working on health care reform bills, Democrats and Republicans, have taken and continue to take tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospital and physician organizations. Do the American people have a chance at meaningful reform?
Crabby Old Lady could have continued this list for many pages. Every day, somewhere, someone in a position of responsibility to the public has lied, cheated or stolen.
Crabby knows there have always been people who enrich themselves at others' expense, lie to gain advantage and cheat – from school exams to fixing elections. But it has never felt as widespread and pervasive as in the past decade or so with a new disclosure nearly every day and accelerating at an increasing pace.
It is as though the only people who play by the rules just haven't had an opportunity (yet) to do otherwise. Very discouraging.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone - Alzheimer's: Part 4