ONE MAN’S OPINION- Here’s some great dialogue from the 1942 classic film Casablanca:
Rick: “How can you close me up? On what grounds?”
Captain Renault: “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”
Club Worker: “Here are your winnings sir.”
Captain Renault: “Oh thank you. very much.”
What Does Casablanca Teach Us?
Americans used to think that corruption happened in far-away places. It is time that we wake up and admit that our society is polluted with corruption. In fact, Saturday Night Live should have a new mock game show segment called, “Is it Corruption or Corruptionism?”
College Cheating: Is it Corruption or Corruptionism?
Corruption exists when one breaks the rules of the system, but corruptionism is when the system itself violates society’s basic principles. In a nation which has evolved into a socio-econo-politico system which is best described as Corruptionism, one should not be surprised that wealthy people cheat the system which is already rigged in their favor.
In 1776 western civilization had two great writings: The Declaration of Independence and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. A cross-over between the two great works was the government’s duty to protect the inalienable rights of the individual. Neither man was deluded into thinking that his society was honest and just. The Declaration’s purpose was to explain why the colonies were revolting from the Crown. Per Adam Smith, the economic system could not function unless the government protected the Price System from crooks. Perhaps the most important innovation was Jefferson’s replacing the word “property” with “Pursuit of Happiness” which dovetailed with a Price System based on supply and demand. The phrase, Pursuit of Happiness, should have made it clear that quality of life was one of the goals of government.
For a few centuries, we made progress in extending the inalienable political and economic rights to more people, but then we stopped and reversed course. The average citizen and his institutions were made pariahs. Labor unions became evil while corrupt businessmen were made heroes. Of course, the corruption in the Unions made it easy for the elite to turn the nation against them. With the repeal of Glass-Steagall, we became wedded to Corruptionism.
Lord Acton and Pogo
The two figures to whom we should pay most attention are Lord Action and Pogo. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton 1887), and “We have met the enemy and he is us,” (Pogo, 1970).
The Founding Fathers knew that the accumulation of power destroys “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” which is why the Constitution has so many checks and balances and why it could not be ratified until the Bill of Rights (First Ten Amendments) were added. They also realized that people themselves were the origin of people’s troubles. As Shakespeare’s Cassius said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves.” Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene III, L. 140-141). Benjamin Franklin was familiar with Cassius’ observation when asked what type of government the Continental Congress had formed: “A republic, if you can keep it,” he replied.
Are These Few Concepts So Hard to Remember?
If these principles were our guiding lights, then we would not be in such a mess. However, we are constantly bombarded with competing ideas, the most lethal of which is Group Rights. If Group Rights were a psychiatric patient, we would recognize that it suffers from delusions of persecution and grandeur as well as a grandiose sense of self entitlement with no empathy for others. One finds these traits (1) in Paranoid Personality Disorders (DSM-5, 301.0), (2) in Narcissistic Personality Disorders (DSM-5, 301.81) and (3) in Anti-Social (Psychopath) Personality Disorder (DSM-5, 301.7). The inherent psychology of Group Rights is why Group Rights result in national disasters.
Group Rights ignores individual inalienable rights and focuses on the group. It tells people that they belong to a victimized group and in order to protect themselves, they must band together to fight their oppressors who are out to destroy their way of life. See Jason Kessler’s rally cry to bring White Supremacists to Charlottesville to protest the destruction of Confederate statues. They knew the group which threatened the Whites. It was not the Blacks and it was not Trump’s menacing hordes of Mexicans, but Jews. Holding Tiki torches high, they marched and chanted, “Blood and Soil. Jews shall not replace us.” Meanwhile, about 2,500 miles to the West, California was defending its state policy that “troublemaker Jews” who would “refuse Jesus Christ” do not have constitutional rights.
The essence of Group Rights is that people who subscribe to this political theory believe that they can do no wrong as long as they advance their group and fight against some other evil group.
Corruption Against the Corrupt
The so-called college cheating scandal is absurd. The super wealthy are supposed to pay bribes directly to the colleges and not to some third party. The upshot of this entire scandal is that a cadre of self-entitled institutions, i.e. the colleges, are upset that someone is beating them at their rigged game.
These parents felt deprived when their darlings could not make the grade and unlike Jared Kushner’s Daddy, the parents could not afford $2.5M for a library. Look at their expectations. Obama had his Doctrine of Too Important to Prosecute so that none of the Wall Street criminals who crashed the economy went to prison. In Los Angeles, the city runs an obvious extortion-bribery racket where any developer can buy entitlements. All he has to do is make payments to Garcetti’s charity, just like the parents were making payment to Rick Singer’s charity. The LA Times published the guidelines of what Garcetti expected in form of payments: $60K for Sea Breeze, $125K for Rick Caruso’s project, $430K from Millennium Towers in one financial quarter.
The LA Times also publishes what the various developers get: CIM Group was able to buy the $625 million Hollywood-Highland Center for only $201 million. When the city wanted to pay $12 million to a Chicago developer, it ran the worldwide scam with the active assistance of the LA Times claiming that the Hollywood Sign was in danger. The school kids in Hollywood who were enlisted to promote this felony knew that the Hollywood Sign was on Mt. Lee and not on the Cahuenga Peak, but cheating people was OK because they wanted the money.
Group Rights Teaches Us One Thing
The intrinsically corrupt mentality underlying Group Rights is simple: what I want for my group is all that matters and screw everyone else.
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams’ views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.