Star Parker

"A Clean Start. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, spent much of the campaign season vowing that if her party took control in January, the first order of business on day one would be ethics reform. It was a smart selling point to a country sick of Republican abuses. It looks even smarter now that the Democrats have won."

Thus the New York Times editorialized the day after the great Democratic take-over.

Now, barely two weeks after the elections, at least some folks have got to be slapping their forehead, realizing they're watching the same lousy movie they walked out on 12 years ago.

Pelosi's opening act, a failed attempt to install ethically challenged John Murtha as the new Senate Majority Leader, leaves little doubt that for her, the real stuff of ethics and statesmanship is favors, payback, personal loyalty above national interest, and, above all, the personal accumulation of power.

I mean, here's a guy, Murtha, called by one reporter "a master of pork-barrel spending," with ethics problems going back 25 years, that the soon to be first-woman-Speaker of the House, wanted to be her second in command.

Now that House Democrats have repudiated Pelosi's push for Murtha and picked Steny Hoyer as their man, everyone is making nice. It was all for show, they say. Hoyer had the deal sewed up from the beginning. Now that we're past this little bit of unavoidable dirty business, we're all on the same page and ready to be those squeaky clean ethical beings that we promised we'd be.

Now Pelosi is opposing Jane Harman to chair the House Intelligence Committee, who even the New York Times says should be given the job, because she doesn't like her.

This is the new beginning? You have to wonder whether they'll have to install a scratching post by the Speaker's chair after Pelosi is installed.

I've gotten plenty of mail saying "Star, why are you defending these sleazy Republicans. Nancy Pelosi. Tom DeLay. What's the difference? Who cares?"

Here's my point, one I've made before.

The issue is about power. Again, Lord Acton's famous observation that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

So-called ethics rules in government are as much show as Nancy Pelosi's election theme of fighting the culture of corruption in Congress. Any rule can be circumvented. Anyone with power will find ways to exercise it, use it to intimidate, and advance a personal agenda.

There is only one way to fight corruption in government and that's to scale down the scope of government and limit the control that politicians have over our lives and money. It's what the founders of this great country had in mind to begin with.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.