Politicians (Really) Are Morally Limited
Religion & Liberty Online

Politicians (Really) Are Morally Limited

We live in a country where many believe that business leaders are greedy while politicians are benevolent. This is why they put so much confidence in government to meet society’s needs instead of in the private sector. That is, business men and women look out for their own “selfish” interests where as politicians are generally good-natured people who look out for the interest of the other as an innate disposition.

Time and time again, however, we are confronted with the reality that if business people can be greedy, then so can politicians. Why? Because both roles are occupied by real people who are morally flawed and need accountability. The key difference between the two is that business people can be greedy with money that is earned by themselves or their employees whereas politicians are greedy with money that is taken from other people under threat of being thrown in jail. American taxpayers would be wise to remember, then, that politicians are morally flawed people who, when given the opportunity, will pursue their own financial self interests like anyone else. Why? Because they are human and power has a corrupting influence for those in national as well as local politics.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, for example, reports that East Point, Georgia (an adjacent suburb to the city of Atlanta) cannot account for $200 million taken from taxpayers.

An audit has revealed that $200 million in taxpayer money has gone missing in the city of East Point over the past 12 years. Mayor Earnestine Pittman says a forensic audit showed the city spent the money between 2000 and 2012 without issuing purchase orders to account for how the money was used. Pittman says some of the money may have been put to legitimate use, but also suspects the missing money could be attributed to fraud. Mark Felton, of Felton Financial Forensics, performed the audit and said the city failed to account for roughly 40 percent of its purchases between 2000 and 2012. Felton says all accounts payable documents from the time period are also missing.

The details of the story have yet to fully unfold but, at best, this is a story about incompetence and negligence. The worst case scenario, as suspected by Pittman, is that this is the result of fraud. To be fair, the missing funds are probably some mixture of fraud and negligence and only time will tell which one resulted in blowing $200 million worth of earnings from the taxpayers of this Atlanta suburb. This story is a prime example of the fact that politicians are no better than the rest of us, and it is only the truly naive who believe that politicians are morally disposed to pursue what is best for others or that they are naturally gifted and competent to do so.

Anthony Bradley

Anthony Bradley, Ph.D. is Professor of Religious Studies at The King's College in New York City and serves as a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute. Dr. Bradley lectures at colleges, universities, business organizations, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His books include: Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America (2010),  Black and Tired: Essays on Race, Politics, Culture, and International Development (2011),  The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone of the Black Experience (2012), Keep Your Head Up: America's New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation (2012), Aliens in the Promised Land:  Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions (forthcoming, 2013). Dr. Bradley's writings on religious and cultural issues have been published in a variety of journals, including: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Detroit News, and World Magazine. Dr. Bradley is called upon by members of the broadcast media for comment on current issues and has appeared C-SPAN, NPR, CNN/Headline News, and Fox News, among others. He studies and writes on issues of race in America, hip hop, youth culture, issues among African Americans, the American family, welfare, education, and modern slavery. From 2005-2009, Dr. Bradley was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO where he also directed the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute.   Dr. Bradley holds Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Clemson University, a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary.  Dr. Bradley also holds an M.A. in Ethics and Society at Fordham University.