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A Confederacy of Dunces

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

We’ve already established that no one will go to jail over $40 billion turfing of the brokerage firm MF Global, one of history’s largest bankruptcies.

MF Global died by the hand of the former Jon Corzine, the former golden boy at Goldman Sachs, the former Senator, the former Governor, the former Obama guru with a master’s degree from the University of Chicago; the sage with the Sixties beard wrapped in a custom-made Burberry suit and tie.  


Like a lot of stories these days, Chicago works its way in there like a burr buried deep in someone’s hair since the 1960s.   

If you are like me, you’re about as tired of my hometown of Chicago as the Detroit Lions are of Soldier Field. You are as tired of being ruled by aging hippies as you are of seeing the 17 daily reruns of the Big Chill, the Deer Hunter and Born on the Fourth of July on movie channels.  

Chicago’s become the punchline behind the joke on the Obama administration in the same way that Monica Lewinsky became the punchline for the joke on Bill Clinton’s administration.

Metaphorically, there’s a great big stain splotching up the frock Chicago’s wearing. And we don’t have to wait for the DNA test to show who the culprits are or what they are up to.

You can tell them by the Goldman and the Sachs, the Princetons, the Yales, the Harvards, the clubs, the honors, the appointments, the fundraisers, the central banks, the mob.      

So there is much more to it than the merely personal story of one or two men. 

The rise and fall of Jon Corzine is an important story, in the same way the Rod Blagojevich story is important because it frames the flaws in our country vividly.

That these two deeply imperfect men were pushed forward vigorously as leaders in state and industry, should give pause to anyone who hopes that America’s best days are not behind us.  One will end up in jail because he didn’t belong to either Goldman or Sachs, and one will skate because he went to the right school; he’ll likely do more than skate actually.


Look for Corzine to end up like the Dick Morris of the left, making millions from the comfort of a TV studio, because a big fat TV contract is the ultimate reward for ultimate incompetence.

“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed,” wrote Jonathan Swift well prior to the age of 600 digital channels that need content.

How we end the practice of rewarding and advancing incompetents like Corzine and Blagojevich at the top of the leadership food chain will go a long way toward explaining how America can become great again.

Let’s be clear about this: Somewhere along the line, this country stopped being a meritocracy and instead became a Confederacy of Dunces to use another Swiftian phrase: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him," wrote Swift.

We didn’t get into a debt problem in this country because we needed the money; we didn’t meltdown the housing market because homeownership is less important now than it was 30 years ago; we didn’t make a wreck of healthcare because healthcare delivery is very different today than it has ever been.

Instead, all we have done is let the dunces confederate against the genius of America.

We’re surrounded by those dunces, in the UN, in Congress, on Wall Street, in the White House, the state house, in think tanks, in associations, in non-profits.


Where the public good is at stake, we are a nation of idiot savants, with a special emphasis on the word “idiot.”   

It’s time for America’s genius to break up the confederacy for good and all.      


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John Ransom | Create Your Badge

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