Corruption study uses flawed metrics
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