Editor's Note: This column was authored by Ned Ryun
Watching the sex scandals at Penn State and now Syracuse Universities develop, one can’t help but wonder how people with such polluted values could be protected for so long to the detriment of so many. It’s a sad commentary on the state of American society, our legal process and institutions that hold a public trust. What we see playing out in the scandals at the colleges, in the halls of Congress where insider trading is apparently legal, or with Wall Street banks who game the system, is the work of a protected class of Americans. They are above the law or mold the law to suit their needs. They believe they are untouchable. More often than not, they’re right.
The crimes of a sex offender and a Congressman profiting from insider information clearly inflict different injuries on different victims and in different ways. They both however highlight how our institutions have created a ruling class that treats the law as a tool to be used for their benefit or an instrument of convenience.
Common to all the untouchable Americans is their persistent belief that money should trump all other considerations. The Penn State officials who didn’t want the bad publicity to hurt one of the most respected and lucrative college football brands in the nation, made a calculated decision based on dollars and cents, to turn a blind eye to horrific acts of abuse. As a result, a pedophile was left to damage the lives of untold dozens over the course of decades.
Similarly, the system in Washington that uses grey language to permit Congressmen and other government officials to make a profit off of insider information - behavior that would land anyone else in jail - distances our leaders from the people they serve and is causing a crisis of confidence in our government institutions. The Big Banks, who with Washington’s help, quietly put millions of taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars of risky deal making, also place the health of their enterprise head of that of the nation.