[A] deep-rooted culture of incompetence and corruption has made it virtually impossible for government to function fairly and efficiently. And because most government employees are shielded by layers of protection, they couldn’t care less. […] ‘Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,’ Ronald Reagan reminded us during his inaugural address in 1981. Nothing’s changed since then, with one exception: It’s gotten far worse.
To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism.
Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.
Why does corruption in government always surprise us? Why do we expect anything else from it? Government is organized force. It takes our wealth and makes war. And we think honest men would do that work?
If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted.
The root of the evil … lay not in corruption but in the system which bred it, the alliance between industrialists and politicians which produced benefits in the form of tariffs, public lands, and federal subsidies.
As long as the law may be diverted from its true purpose — that it may violate property instead of protecting it — then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting to gain access to the legislature as well as fighting within it.
The only effective way to eliminate cronyism is to strike at its root by reducing the power of government over the economy. This would remove the option of government favoritism as a business tool and force business leaders to compete in the quality and price of their products rather than trade in political favors.
The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.
With money we will get men, said Caesar, and with men we will get money. Nor should our assembly [the Virginia Legislature] be deluded by the integrity of their own purposes, and conclude that these unlimited powers will never be abused, because themselves are not disposed to abuse them. They should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when a corruption in this, as in the country from which we derive our origin [Great Britain], will have seized the heads of government, and be spread by them through the body of the people; when they will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay the price. Human nature is the same on every side of the Atlantic, and will be alike influenced by the same causes. The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold on us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered.