Trying to Teach Ethics to Congress Critters

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Do you – or anyone – really need a book of rules and a three-hour briefing on ethics in order to do your job ethically?

If you're a congress critter, apparently so, for that's what newly-elected members of the new Congress that'll convene in January have just received. Nearly all of the newcomers rode to victory on a tsunami of inherently-corrupting corporate cash, but now they're being instructed in a crash course on Capitol Hill ethics – not learning how to be ethical, but how to avoid ending up being investigated, indicted, or... in jail.

You see, in the rarefied air of Washington, one can be blatantly unethical, as long as your behavior has not technically been declared illegal. It's a fine line, so this latest class of special-interest lawmakers were eager learners.

But, in practice, actually crossing that line is no barrier to congressional service. GOP Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island, for example, is back in Congress even though he was caught on tape threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony. The appropriately-named Grimm is also under indictment for 20 counts of accounting fraud. Errant Democrats can continue in office, too. Take Charlie Rangel of New York, who has been formally censured by Congress for a mess of ethics violations – but rather than going to The Big House, Rangel is back in the House of Representatives, reelected on November 4 with no Republican opposition.

There's now a bipartisan move in the House to require annual ethics training for every lawmaker, claiming that this will enhance the public reputation of each member and of Congress itself. Dream on – who do they think they're kidding? As Lyndon Johnson put it, "chicken manure can't turn to chicken salad." These so-called adults didn't absorb basic ethics from thier kindergarten teachers, they sure won't learn anything to improve their morality in a congressional classroom.

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This has been reposted from Jim Hightower's website.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jim Hightower

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work