On the Way to Open Kleptocracy

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Dec 15, 2016 (San Diego) We are quickly moving to a Kleptocracy. It is important to define these terms, so before we go any further, a handy definition. “kleptocracy This is a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves.”

Like many of our words, the origin of the word is Greek. and the British Dictionary has a more apt, and rather informal, definition of the term. (informal) a government where officials are politically corrupt and financially self-interested.”

When we read about all the conflicts of interests between the Donald Trump incoming administration, his private business holdings (around the world), and his children sitting in high-level meetings, or interviewing potential cabinet post candidates, this should be raising alarms.

There have been some raising the ethical challenges in recent days in the media. For those of us who study history, and foreign government systems, this is very familiar. Nor will it start with the Trump administration. This will be the point when it will become transparent in the United States, though. To think that none in the corridors of power will take advantage of their office for personal benefit is just nuts.

Trump will be in immediate conflict with the Emoluments clause when he is sworn in, but the actions of the last seventy-two hours also point to his family getting personal benefit. Or why should Donald Jr, or Eric be doing at a high-level meeting with leaders of the high technology sector? Why should any of them interview candidates to cabinet posts? In other words, what personal advantage do they expect to get? They are business people, and return on investment is a term they are very familiar with.

Then there is his son in law, Jared Kushner, is expected to take a powerful post in the White House. The last time something like this happened John Fitzgerald Kennedy appointed his brother to become Attorney General. Congress then passed legislation forbidding this. We will probably see a lot of parsing of the statute. After all, Kushner is not being appointed to any cabinet head, but the West Wing. These is where the lawyers say Trump is legally ok. While that might be true, there is this about the spirit of the law. If we were about to inaugurate the Hillary Clinton administration and her son in law Marc Mezvinsky was about to take a similar post, Republicans in Congress would be hollering from the mountains.

Moreover, some of the issues that many Republicans raised about Hillary Clinton, and the Foundation were precisely kleptocratic in nature. They alleged that the Clinton Global initiative sold influence abroad and benefited at home. So if Republicans do not start to raise questions, then we are going to assume that they have decided that it is ok, for a few to benefit that is, as long as it is their own.

Given the United States started working as an oligarchy over 20 years ago, this is not surprising but a natural end, though. Neither party raises hell when it is their own devil, though, because in the end all at the top levels of power benefit from this.

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