We've pointed out from time to time that one of the President's main jobs is to be First Cheerleader. When President Roosevelt criticized businessmen and called them evil, they were afraid to invest in creating jobs. When President Reagan encouraged businessmen to "make American great again," they invested, created jobs, and tax revenue soared. Now that President Obama is emulating Pres. Roosevelt and trashing the very investors who could create "jobs, jobs, and more jobs," we're mired in what amounts to a permanent jobs recession.
It's seldom talked about, but the President also sets an example that embodies the essence of how government employees ought to behave. If the President sets an example of probity, honesty, and hard work serving the interests of the citizens, government employees will tend to show more of that sort of virtuous behavior than they would otherwise. When a President sets an example of crooked mendacity and his higher-ups can be seen to be looking out for themselves instead of looking out for the people, lower-level employees tend to show the baser side of their built-in human nature and look out for #1 instead of serving the public.
We're seeing a never-ending litany of bad behavior by government employees both high and low. Back when the TSA was first installing hugely-expensive X-ray machines that can't see explosives as used by the panty bomber, they were purchased with stimulus funds from a company in which Michael Chartoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, had a substantial interest. We needn't repeat the account of how the government poured a half-billion taxpayer dollars into Solyndra, a failed solar cell manufacturer in which a big Obama donor had an ownership interest.
Members of the President's Secret Service detail get in an early-morning argument with a prostitute, the police are called, and it turns out that they've been partying. The only reason this came to light was the noisy fight over fees for "escort services." How long has this been going on? Nobody seems to have been watching the store.
We've also been regaled by stories of the Government Services Administration staging a very expensive convention in Las Vegas. The numbers were hidden so deeply in the government accounting system that it took years for the Inspector General to find out the details.
Jeffrey Neely, the regional commissioner who organized the extravaganza, is on "administrative leave" and continues to draw full pay. Other media have suggested that his wife enjoyed extensive vacation travel at taxpayer expense. A damning email reportedly sent by him explained the philosophy in perfect prose:
As deb [Mrs. Neely] and I say often, why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can. Ain't going to last forever.
One sympathizes with Mr. Neely in a way. Mrs. Obama, who is not an elected official, has enjoyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of travel at our expense. With such extravagance at the top of the pyramid, why should we be surprised if lower-level officials try to get theirs while the gettin's good?
As always, the rot starts at the top. Back when he was trying to appoint a cabinet, it turned out that most of Mr. Obama's choices had cheated on their taxes, taken bribes, or disqualified themselves in some other way. Our Treasury Secretary, Timothy "Turbo Tax" Geithner, blamed his tax evasion on the TurboTax software he used, claiming it wasn't formatted "in a way that caught" his "mistake." Based on his newly-created "Turbo Tax defense," the IRS waived his penalties, a service reserved for top-level Democrats, in contrast to Leona Helmsley, a conservative, who went to jail for the same crime.
One might wonder how, if Mr. Giethenr was such a financial genius that only he could save us from the recession, he couldn't run an income tax program. Oh, wait, he didn't fix the recession. He can't run the economy any better than he can run Turbo Tax, and his getting away with tax evasion doesn't set a good example for federal employees.
We're seeing a flurry of vote-rigging charges being brought against various Democrat grandees all across the state of Indiana.
When Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's chief of staff, decided to run for Mayor of Chicago, his opponents pointed out that he didn't live in Chicago. His supporters pointed out that he hadn't registered his cars in DC. That proved, they claimed, that he intended to be a Chicago resident all along.
In point of fact, Mr. Emanuel defrauded his insurance company. Insurance rates are higher in DC than where he had lived in Chicago. Not following the law which required him to re-register his cars when he moved saved him a great deal of money. One can imagine the media firestorm that would have occurred had a Republican done likewise.
Mr. Obama has taken corrupt Chicago politics nationwide. His claim that government can solve all our problems rings hollow when the example he sets has led to such chicanery and theft in the lower ranks. How can government solve any problems when the boss teaches government employees that it's OK to steal?
The one shining light of morality that Mr. Obama puts forth is his sexual loyalty; so far as we have ever heard, there is not the slightest suspicion that he has ever been unfaithful to Michelle. In this he flies in the face of longstanding Democrat presidential tradition, from Bill Clinton to John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. As honorable as this one moral restraint is, though, it doesn't seem to have stood out from all his other corruption when it comes to an example to the lower orders: this week, Washington is convulsed with revelations about Secret Service agents cavorting with prostitutes while overseas preparing to protect the President's life.
We're told that the House of Representatives is huffing and puffing about the waste at the GSA. They're talking about passing a law that says that no agency can spend more than $500,000 on a conference. That won't save any money at all. Once the agencies know that it's OK to spend that much, agencies that never held conferences before will start doing it. Instead of saving money, there'll be a flurry of conferences costing $499,999.95 and spending will go up yet again.
The solution isn't to pass more laws - more laws merely provide more opportunities for chicanery. The solution is for the citizens to enforce virtue by electing honest politicians.