The definition of the word corruption, according to Merriam-Webster, is an “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle.” No, this isn’t a post about WeinerGate, that corruption is being exposed elsewhere…so to speak. This is about two stories of corruption that aren’t getting as much attention as they deserve but have real-world implications for the lives of Americans.
We’ve all heard the saying “The fox guarding the hen house,” right? It essentially means putting someone with their own agenda in charge of making sure something contrary to their interest doesn’t happen. What’s happening at the Department of Education (DoE) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are similar stories of inappropriate interactions between bureaucrats creating policy and the appearance of partnerships with outsiders with their own agendas. It’s not the fox guarding the hen house, it’s closer to the fox designing the security system for the hen house.
Over at the DoE, they’ve been working with Wall Street short-sellers to push regulations that would all but destroy the for-profit education system. Short-sellers, who stand to make a fortune once that regulation is fully implemented and have zero expertise in education policy, have been intimately involved in the drafting “Gainful-Employment” rules that essentially mean a certain percentage of graduates have to get jobs related to their field of study in order for a for-profit institution’s students to qualify for financial aid.
Forget the fact that in this economy, state-run schools would have difficulty in meeting that criteria. Focus on the clear conflict of interest in having people who stand to personally benefit financially helping create rules to increase the chances of that happening and you begin to see why the Inspector General of the DoE opened an investigation into this.
But Education Secretary Arne Duncan is unrepentant about this and has ignored calls from both sides of the aisle to slow down this process until an investigation can be concluded. Even Senator Harkin (D-IA), who had the audacity to call one of the unqualified short-sellers as an expert witness on the subject, has shown no concern for these conflicts and continues even still to push forward, holding another hearing this week, his 5th on the subject. With the corruption charges and investigation ongoing, Republicans refused to take part, boycotting the hearing. (Free registration required)
In the case of the FCC, the issue is the oxymoronically named Net Neutrality, which is the push for regulating the Internet under the guise of keeping it free.
The Internet is the marvel that has revolutionized everyone’s lives and drives a significant portion of our economy. It allows anyone a foot in the door to what is basically the closest to a truly free market we have left in the world. Aside from the economic benefits available to anyone with something to sell on sites like eBay or Craig’s List, it’s the main source of communication and entertainment for countless Americans.
The Internet works because the companies that sell you access to it manage the traffic on it so it works for everyone. There’s only so much data that can travel through it at any given moment, so, like a traffic cop, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) manage its flow in such a way that their work is nearly impossible for users to notice. It’s done freely and is in the best interest of both the ISPs and the subscribers. But it’s done without government control, which is a problem for some.
There’s been a push for years, under the friendly sounding name Net Neutrality, for the government to essentially fire that traffic cop and mandate all traffic flow however it flows. This would be disastrous for users, but this isn’t about users, this is about control. And money.
As President Reagan famously said about the government’s view of the economy, “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” There’s long been a push to tax transactions on the Internet, and that day is getting closer. Next they want to regulate it, which is Net Neutrality, and no group has been as vocal a proponent for that regulation as the ironically named Free Press.
A left-wing activist group pushing government control of nearly every aspect of media, Free Press, is was recently discovered, has been working closely with FCC officials to push Internet regulation from inside the government. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called it “collusion,” and it very well could be.
As the FCC seeks to impose Net Neutrality over the objections of the majority of Congress, which has rejected all legislation on the subject that has ever come up for a vote, this “collusion” was discovered in time to make a difference. But if recent history is any indication, it may just be ignored and big government, pro-regulation juggernaut may just continue to roll.
But none of this gets as much attention as a Members of Congress’s, um, “member.” That’s not to say that the corruption in WeinerGate is not important, politicians betraying the public trust is always important. But also important, and also worthy of exposure, forgive the pun, is the fact that our government appears to be actively working with outside groups and individuals who stand to gain from those partnerships. Surely the media can find time to multitask and look into these charges at some point…before Americans find their educational options severely limited and are unable to easily go online to sound off about it.
If these shady dealings don’t get the wide exposure they deserve, and the investigation they require, who knows what’s next? It’s time to get the fox off the hen house planning committee before it’s too late. With the government feverishly writing regulations for their virtual take over of the nation’s health care system, the possibilities are truly frightening.
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