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April 20, 2001

Setting Standards

Best and Brightest? . . . Yeah, right.

What should one make of a profession that boasts just 535 members, 7 of whom have been arrested for fraud, 19 have been accused of writing bad checks, 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses, 3 have done time for assault, 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit, 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges, 8 have been arrested for shoplifting, 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits, and 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year or so? Hardly material to be dictating and controlling how the rest of us should be forced to live, one would think. Yes, as you've probably guessed, we're talking about the U.S. Congress. (Source, Doug Fiedor's newsletter Fiedor Report on the News, A Weekly View from the Foothills of Appalachia, Number 224, April 2001)

I read somewhere, long ago, about a small island culture in the Indian Ocean, where nobody wanted to be the chief, which was perceived not as an office to be coveted for its grandeur or power, but as a thankless, lousy job. But somebody had to do it, and there was a procedure whereby some luckless soul was singled out and would make a best effort to pass judgments, settle disputes, make decisions, and whatever else was called for. But since everyone else knew he wasn't there through a craving for authority, avarice, or desire to flaunt superiority, they were sympathetic and supportive and did what they could make life easier. At the end of the term he would gratefully step down and hand over to the successor. We would probably dismiss their culture as "primitive." But wouldn't it be nice to think that, if all other traces of them were swept away, the one brick that they left in the edifice of whatever civilization exists a thousand years from now were to be their political process and its ethic?

 
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