Sunday, July 15, 2007


The Chinese know how to deal with corruption. When they found Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, guilty of taking bribes to approve untested medicine, they executed him. Just like that. Bad official terminated -- with prejudice.

I'm not a big fan of capital punishment, so this seems a tad severe. That said, where I don't think the death sentence does much of a job in deterring most murderers, I can see where it might have an immediate and positive effect on governmental corruption. Take a bribe, get a seat in the electric chair. Say goodbye to undue lobbyist influence!

If this sort of thing were instituted in the United States, there'd be a long line for the firing squad. Messrs. Bush and Cheney would be at the front of the line, of course, followed closely by Brownie and Gonzales and all their minions, down to the hapless assistants who can't bring themselves to say much of anything in front of Congressional committees. There's so much corruption and cronyism in the Bush/Cheney administration, it would probably be easier to single out the innocent bureaucrats than to name all the guilty ones.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. our corrupt politicians don't get punished for their crimes; instead, they benefit from them. There's no deterrent when offenders get a medal from the president and a fat book contract, instead of being taken to task for what they've done. In China, they execute corrupt officials; in the U.S., we reward them. How's that for an enlightened Western civilization?

I'm not proposing instituting the death penalty for governmental corruption. (In fact, I'm an opponent of the death penalty in general.) But I do think we need to get our moral and ethical act together and root out corruption and cronyism at all levels of government. Even if we don't line the crooks up against a wall and give them a blindfold and a cigarette, we can still throw the bums out on their bums. The bad apples have to go -- it's time to clean up our governmental orchard.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.