If I can take personal responsibility for my professional ethical behavior, and frankly, so can every other professional doing business in this country, why can't our senators and congressmen?
Transparency and openness you say? The supply of information today is prodigious. The Internet, Palm Pilots, blogs, competing 24-hour cable news, satellite news. Sooner or later, everything will come to the light of day. It's how we found out about Abramoff.
But somehow politicians' answer to ethics is not to take more personal responsibility, but to limit the freedom that the rest of us have.
One related and germane part of this picture is campaign finance laws. This is another arena where politicians save us from ourselves and, by doing so, make us all worse off.
How do we fire a bad politician? Elections. But campaign finance laws, that limit the amount of money that candidates can raise, protect the incumbent rascals by limiting the amount of money available to challengers that want to expose them.
Can you imagine what we would have if we passed a law limiting the spending allowed on advertising soap? We would protect Procter and Gamble and make it almost impossible for a new little company with a great new soap to get on the market.
As we are currently observing in Iraq, it is impossible to have a free country without people who are prepared to act like responsible and civil adults. Is this too much to ask of our own senators and congressman?
As I write, the streets of Washington are filled with construction crews working on sparkling new buildings that will house well-financed lobbyists. Don't expect that this construction will halt as result of The Legislative and Transparency Act of 2007.