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One lesson from the Mike Easley tragedy

News reports indicate that today, Mike Easley will become the first person to be convicted of a crime as the result of his conduct in office as Governor of North Carolina.

It is a sad day for our state and anyone who takes pleasure in this development – a final, professional pratfall and disgrace for an enormously gifted person who should’ve known better and who could’ve accomplished much more than he did as a public servant – must be a very sad and vindictive character.

Much will be written about the final demise of Mike Easley as a public figure in the days ahead, but here’s one thing that won’t be emphasized enough: Easley’s fall was ultimately the byproduct of greed – simple, stupid, personal greed; greed for money, greed for power.

The irony of this truth, of course, is that this very same sin that will today make Mike Easley a convicted felon is in so many other circumstances celebrated as a great virtue. Indeed, many of the market fundamentalist groups and activists who will cheer the loudest today about Easley’s fall are champions of an ideology (theology, really) that elevates and worships personal human greed as the driving force behind all progress in society.

It seems unlikely that we will ever see the complete eradication of the phenomenon of flawed human beings succumbing to the temptations of public office. But it also seems that we’d all have a helluva lot more credibility to shake our heads and feel superior when it happens if we acknowledged that unfettered greed for money and power is a sin wherever it occurs.

And we might have a better chance of discouraging such behavior in the world of public service if we didn’t celebrate it so much everywhere else.

5 Comments

  1. Steve Harrison

    November 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Another fallacy put forward by the free market crowd: “Government should be run like a business.”

    Which is exactly what Easley was doing. All that patronage and influence peddling is standard operating procedure for a CEO of a corporation. Or the scion of a retail empire.

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  3. marc

    November 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Fail. The purpose of government is to set and enforce basic rules of conduct to moderate the so-called “greed” that drives the rest of us to work for our supper. As such, governors are by definition supposed to be above acting for their old self-interest, just as the rest of us are driven by the need to do the opposite. Easley is a common crook in an uncommon position, that is all.

  4. unknown

    November 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

  5. Dr Harry Bush

    November 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Hundreds of families were financially ruined by the sweetheart deal Easley got on the lot in Cannonsgate. The phony inflated price was recorded in the assessor’s records (illegal), and other properties were sold and financed with that fake sale used as a comparable sale.

    This guy should be in jail just like any “normal” working stiff would be.