Who Has Integrity?


In 2010 there were many campaign ads in which each candidate claimed to have "integrity." But as we have seen, campaign after campaign, election after election, most of the winning candidates are the ones who are merely the most skilled in rhetoric and demagoguery. As F.A. Hayek noted accurately in his book, The Road to Serfdom, "the worst get on top." What attracts the worst to the State apparatus are the power of compulsion that agents of the State have over others, the power of monopoly that restricts the rights of others, and the adulation (and in some cases idolatry) toward agents of the State from the masses.

One example of the steady moral decay America has been experiencing is the recent election of Democrat Suzanne Bump to the office of Massachusetts state auditor. During her campaign, Bump was described in her one newspaper endorsement as "acting with independence, integrity, and competence." Apparently, the Boston Phoenix hadn't heard about Bump's declaring property tax exemptions for both her homes in two different communities in Massachusetts, claiming each one as her "primary residence." The campaign for state auditor was between Bump, whose main experience was as a state legislator and governor's cabinet secretary but with no accounting experience, and Republican Mary Connaughton, a CPA and former audit senior manager at Ernst and Young as well as a financial consultant and state college accounting instructor, and who received endorsements from just about every newspaper in the state, including the "liberal" Boston Globe. But Democrat Bump won the election.

Economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe has pointed out how the "free entry" into government is fatally flawed:

Free entry is not always good. Free entry and competition in the production of goods is good, but free competition in the production of bads is not. Free entry into the business of torturing and killing innocents, or free competition in counterfeiting or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad. So what sort of “business” is government? Answer: it is not a customary producer of goods sold to voluntary consumers. Rather, it is a “business” engaged in theft and expropriation – by means of taxes and counterfeiting – and the fencing of stolen goods. Hence, free entry into government does not improve something good. Indeed, it makes matters worse than bad, i.e., it improves evil.

But it is sad and unfortunate how the business of government has received such mass praise throughout the life of the United States, despite the damage that governments – federal, state, and local – have done to our country, while the business of business (the "private sector") is constantly the object of disparagement.

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One individual in the business sector who apparently has shown some integrity during the latest "insider trading" scam of the federal government, is John Kinnucan of Broadband Research, who was approached by the FBI asking Kinnucan to wear a wire while meeting with his clients as a means of gathering "evidence" of his clients' trading with "inside" knowledge. Kinnucan not only refused the request, but had emailed his clients to warn them of the, in his words, "fresh-faced eager beavers." He apparently was not warning his clients as a means of "covering up" anything; rather, he was protecting them from the State's entrapment of innocent individuals. But as a punishment for Kinnucan's show of integrity, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed his firm, but, according to the New York Times, not Kinnucan himself. The Times notes that the distinction is to do with removing Kinnucan's right against self-incrimination. And according to CNBC, Kinnucan has stated that he will have to defend himself in court, because paying for lawyers would leave his family "destitute." This is what the State has become, and is just one example of the State's crimes against private citizens.

Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob Hornberger had noted cases similar to this, in which the government requested cooperation from an innocent private citizen who then refused to cooperate and was thus the target of retaliation by the government. In his discussion of the WikiLeaks story and the cooperation with the government of the whistleblower website's business associates, Mastercard and Paypal, Hornberger brings up the Bush Administration's 2001 request of telecommunications companies to provide confidential information about their customers to help the NSA's unconstitutional domestic spying program. The only one who didn't cooperate with the request was Joseph Nacchio of Qwest Communcations. Shortly thereafter, the government indicted and then convicted Nacchio of "insider trading" laws.

During the 1980s, the securities firm Princeton/Newport Partners had to close its doors because it couldn't handle RICO Statute indictments by then-U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani, which the firm's attorneys believed was punishment for the firm's refusal to cooperate with Giuliani in his investigation of Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc. According to author Paul Craig Roberts, the grandstanding Giuliani "staged a stormtrooper assault on (Princeton/Newport Partners) involving fifty federal marshals outfitted with automatic weapons and bulletproof vests."

Roberts also noted how the overzealous Giuliani had no real legal case in his criminal persecution of financier Michael Milken, and had gone after Milken's brother, as well as had the FBI visit Milken's 92-year-old grandfather, to coerce a plea deal from Milken. Roberts also contends that, in Giuliani's anti-business/anti-rich zeal, he framed hotel queen Leona Helmsley with suborned perjury, a conclusion also reached by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and former Judge Robert Bork.

It is of great irony – well, hypocrisy is a better word – that such a counter-productive "insider trading" persecution of private, innocent individuals who are not committing any acts of theft or fraud, comes from the same federal government many of whose participants embrace the revolving door between government monopolies and privileged corporate interests. Former Federal Reserve employees' informing their post-Fed private sector clients of the inside details of Fed meetings and decisions, long before such information becomes public knowledge, is but one example. Compulsory government monopoly is what enables those going through that revolving door to enrich themselves at the public's expense. As Prof. Hoppe has noted,

As a territorial monopolist of legislation and the money-printing press, the State has a natural tendency to grow: to use its "fiat" laws and "fiat" money to gain increasing control of society and social institutions. With "fiat laws", the State has the unique power of threatening and punishing or incentivizing and rewarding whatever it pleases. And with its "fiat money", it can buy-up support, bribe, and corrupt more easily than anyone else.

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In regards to the federal government's failed foreign policy of aggression for many decades, a current developing news story that has exposed the ones lacking in integrity – especially in government, political punditry and journalism – has been the WikiLeaks saga. There have been calls to have WikiLeaks' Julian Assange prosecuted for espionage and even assassinated, and there has been support to suppress information associated with State indiscretions and outright crimes, support for censorship of media including the Internet.

But there have been those within government and the military who have shown integrity, especially in this decade of the War on Terrorism, particularly those who have left the government or military and returned to private life. It takes integrity (and courage) to recognize and testify on deception, corruption, even crimes in government.

One now-retired member of the U.S. military, former Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who is also a columnist, had anonymously written articles expressing her dissent from Pentagon policy in 2002 and 2003. Kwiatkowski had told of her own betrayal and anger as well as that of fellow military personnel, who felt that their assessments and advice on the Bush Administration's plans for Iraq were being brushed aside by the civilian leadership.

And retired CIA officer Philip Giraldi, now a columnist for, The American Conservative magazine, and Campaign for Liberty, and also executive director of the Council for the National Interest, has worked in intelligence in Turkey, Italy, Germany and Spain, dealing mainly with issues of international terrorism. Giraldi has been a critic of U.S. government policy in the Middle East, Israel in particular, and has written about alleged fabrications used by government officials and their flunkies as a means to go to war in Iraq and of deceptions to initiate sanctions or hostilities against Iran.

There have also been claims regarding widespread drug use and deliberate murders of civilians by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, some claims of which are being investigated, and only a few soldiers there have been willing to denounce such activities. The true bravery exists in the young soldier willing to disclose such immoral activities despite the possibility of his own death as punishment.

One can surely describe Kinnucan, Kwiatkowski, Giraldi and various whistleblowers as having integrity, while it is impossible to find integrity in government officials who use deception and propaganda toward expanding U.S. government apparatus and control into other regions of the world. Can it be possible for agents of the State with integrity to continually fire remote-controlled drone bombs at various targets in Pakistan, knowing that the ones they are killing are innocent civilians? And where is the integrity in government agents who go so far as to prevent a teenager from seeking honest employment while encouraging him to commit terrorist acts?

And what about America's Fourth Estate – the Press? Where is their integrity when, instead of acting as the people's important check on government powers, they have been acting as the State's spokespeople and apologists for the multitudes of State abuses of power?

And where is the integrity in government officials who invent new laws out of thin air, such as "insider trading," as a means of restricting the freedom of certain segments of society, or persecuting honest businessmen who have committed no crimes of violence, theft or fraud against others? The more statist and bureaucratized our society has become, the more petty resentment there has been toward those who benefit financially through their hard work, talents and abilities, and toward those who stand up to government bullies and who stand for principle, unfortunately.

So how can those who are driven toward State power possibly have integrity when the very apparatus over which they want control is inherently corrupting? Obviously, there have been plenty of those in the business sector who have shown a lack of integrity and have been corrupt, but the genuine business sector does not have the power of compulsion over others, the power to be above the law as does the compulsory government sector. And by genuine business sector, I mean that which is not tied to the State apparatus through "crony capitalism," or corporatism.

It is thus nearly impossible to expect even the most honest individual to grab hold of monopolistic governmental powers, legislatively, militarily or otherwise, and expect one's integrity to remain intact. There are some exceptions, of course.