- - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

With a press in thrall to every Twitter outrage du jour, and the media spotlight trained tightly on the upcoming inauguration and its opposition, there is little national attention left over for what the nation fears most. Corruption.

According to a large 2016 survey by Chapman University of Americans’ greatest fears, more people feared corrupt government officials than feared a terrorist attack, or having insufficient money for the future.

Corruption is a virus that brings down countries, and too often prevents them from ever developing in the first place. Corruption works by distorting a process that should be open and understandable. Corruption breeds powerlessness and cynicism. During the presidential election, some voters told reporters they were not voting for Hilary Clinton because they thought she was corrupt. Instead, they would vote for Donald Trump because they believed that his personal fortune made him incorruptible.

That remains to be seen.

Money is not the only source of corruption. Power, prestige, fame and other secondary agendas fuel world events in ways that are not readily apparent. Take the pathetic pageant of the Jan. 15 Paris Peace Conference, for example. It was a peace meeting for everyone but the players in the conflict; somewhat like a couples’ therapy session without either the husband or the wife in attendance.

The conference took place to serve ends very far from the welfare of Israel or the Palestinians: French President Hollande made some points for his domestic political party with their local Muslim constituents, Mahmoud Abbas – whose name in the Palestinian territories is practically synonymous with corruption - gained assurances of continued cash flow from the European Union, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had an audience for his swan song for the Obama administration’s failed foreign policy.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe the annual World Economic Conference was gathering in Davos, Switzerland, to try to catch up with the dramatic political changes it failed to predict. Attendees will try to figure out why, despite a global economy that is the most robust it’s been in years, too many people have been left behind by prosperity. Around the world, voters are expressing their dissatisfaction in political populism, and even nativism.

The Davos conference agenda notes public loss of confidence in corporate CEOs and the globalization they represent, although we note that the incoming populist Trump administration has appointed the former CEO of Exxon – you can’t get more globalist than that– as the the new Secretary of State.

While the American press is all atwitter and Europe busies itself with conferences, the most dreadful world problems continue to bleed and fester and cry for attention. Here is but a sample:

• There are still more refugees and displaced persons worldwide today than anytime since the Second World War.
• Sudan is deliberately bombing civilians and committing atrocities against them.
• Hamas in Gaza is cooperating with the Islamic State, thereby threatening both Egypt and Israel.
• Myanmar has imprisoned its stateless Rohingya Muslims in concentration camps.

There is so much that needs to be done, both at home and abroad.

We approach the inauguration with pride in our history of honest government; government that is transparent, open to criticism, and has a vision justice for all. As we approach the inauguration, we do so with confidence and trust in those who have been elected and appointed to high office, that they will be inspired by our tradition and our history of maintaining the highest standards of good governance, free of the taint of corruption.

In the spirit of Inauguration Day … God Bless America.

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