FIFA and Corruption

I’m going to stay on this for one more post. To reiterate what I said last week, I’ve got not one shred of sympathy for the cartoonishly corrupt FIFA executives, those arrested and those not (like the absurd, and newly re-elected president, Sepp Blatter).

That notwithstanding, I wish there were more recognition of the degree and depth of corruption at all levels of the American political system, corruption which absolutely dwarfs in scale and scope the bill of particulars levied last week against the FIFA cabal.

Just a few reminders:

1) the orgy of cash in which our political system is now awash, with several candidates partially or wholly owned subsidiaries of obscenely wealthy men. The most recent case – the former Eagles’ owner, Norman Braman announced a few weeks ago that he will be very substantially bankrolling the Marco Rubio campaign. Increasingly, our elections – the problem is in some ways worse on the state level than it is in presidential elections – are becoming the political version of Indecent Proposal.

2) political interests are bankrolling ever growing armies of lobbyists to influence the legislative process. One common practice – lobbyists themselves playing central roles in drafting the legislation they’re trying to get passed. There are countless highly consequential examples of this practice.

3) the revolving door between political office and corporate lobbying. Too many examples to enumerate, but one of the all-time classic cases remains Billy Tauzin. Tauzin was a Louisiana Representative who helped shepherd through Congress the Medicare expansion bill in 2003 that included staggering giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry. After playing a central role in crafting a bill that, among other things, barred “Medicare from…negotiat[ing] for lower prescription drug costs and reimportation of drugs from first world countries would not be allowed.” Then – “a few months after the bill passed, Tauzin announced that he was retiring from Congress and would be taking a job helming PhRMA – the chief lobbying arm for the pharmaceutical industry – for a salary of $2 million.”

Rank corruption in politics is as old as America itself. There was a period after World War II during which some significant efforts to rein in its most egregious excesses bore fruit. But its resurgence over the past two or so decades, only exacerbated by the Citizens United decision in 2010 and its aftermath make the United States a particularly ill-suited moral scold when it comes to corruption.

That doesn’t make the FIFA arrests wrong or unwarranted.  It ought to temper our collective smugness a tad, however.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming forthcoming…

Update: John Oliver again savaged FIFA last night. Great stuff. (as an aside, man, is Jack Warner an embarrassment).


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