Cor­rup­tion study uses flawed met­rics

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Like many print and broad­cast me­dia out­lets, The Washington Times Mon­day fell for a $1.5 mil­lion leftist ploy to fur­ther limit po­lit­i­cal free­dom and privacy (“Re­port: Virginia among states most at risk for cor­rup­tion,” Web).

The ex­pen­sive study cited in the ar­ti­cle was con­ducted by the Cen­ter for Public In­tegrity, Global In­tegrity and Public Ra­dio In­ter­na­tional and ranked all the states in a “state in­tegrity in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” It gave Virginia an “F.” Deep in the story, the reader learns that the No. 1 state in the rank­ing was New Jer­sey. Mary­land ranked well above Virginia.

A quick Google search finds that this new study re­ceived news cov­er­age in many states, as the study’s or­ga­niz­ers no doubt in­tended for it to have, but I’ll bet many peo­ple were laugh­ing. New Jer­sey — the best state in con­trol­ling cor­rup­tion and Virginia among the worst? Surely a study with­out ul­te­rior mo­tives, one that mea­sured ac­tual cor­rup­tion, would rank no­to­ri­ous New Jer­sey among the worst and Virginia among the best. In fact, cor­rup­tion of gov­ern­ment is en­demic in New Jer­sey and much of Mary­land, but rel­a­tively rare in Virginia.

The old say­ing “Fig­ures don’t lie, but liars fig­ure” ap­plies here. The study’s or­ga­niz­ers got the fig­ures they wanted by grad­ing the states on such stan­dards as: Does the state have an ethics com­mis­sion? Does the state limit po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions in state elec­tion cam­paigns? The news story does not list many of the study’s 330 “cor­rup­tion risk in­di­ca­tors,” but one may be cer­tain that many of those “in­di­ca­tors” in­clude as pos­i­tive a great many other types of laws and reg­u­la­tions, which fa­cil­i­tate at­tacks by the left on po­lit­i­cal free­dom and privacy.

We should never for­get that the “fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion” the left in­tends to make in our coun­try in­cludes ever-greater gov­ern­ment spend­ing, ever-more per­va­sive gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions and ev­er­stronger vil­i­fi­ca­tion of pri­vate cit­i­zens act­ing in their own in­ter­ests. The left wants as much power as it can grab, and ide­ally, a sit­u­a­tion in which its mem­bers are in charge and where ev­ery­thing not pro­hib­ited is manda­tory. What­ever they can do to dis­credit our sys­tem of limited gov­ern­ment ad­vances their agenda.

Readers who know noth­ing of the Cen­ter for Public In­tegrity or Global In­tegrity should have been tipped off by the co-spon­sor­ship of Public Ra­dio In­ter­na­tional, a re­li­able pro­moter of sto­ries and themes use­ful to the left.

Virginia isn’t per­fect, of course. Es­pe­cially in North­ern Virginia, lo­cal gov­ern­ments sys­tem­at­i­cally ex­tort large pay­ments and “con­ces­sions” for “public” pur­poses from land own­ers be­fore is­su­ing per­mits for com­mer­cial con­struc­tion on pri­vate prop­erty. That’s of­fi­cial cor­rup­tion. But over­all, Virginia’s gov­ern­ment has limited po­lit­i­cal free­dom, privacy and prop­erty rights.

MOR­TON C. BLACK­WELL

Ar­ling­ton

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