No, I’m not talking about the bribes – corporate and personal – given to politicians in the form of campaign contributions. That’s rotten, but at least we know about it, and even talk about it sometimes.
But there’s another form of bribery that gets no attention. The use of federal funds to undermine state and local decisions by making these funds conditional on actions that the federal government has no constitutional authority to order. It is greenmail – with dollar amounts too large for the states and localities to ignore and so everyone plays along with the scam. Thus we have George Bush and Barack Obama blithely redesigning the country’s local schools in utter contempt of what the Constitution intended.
It has become so bad that private foundations have gotten into greenmail, recently most dramatically by the ones that told the DC government they couldn’t continue to get continued funding if they dumped Michelle Rhee. If an ordinary citizen tried to bribe politicians like this, they would be subject to a lengthy prison term. But foundations just call themselves nonprofits and get away with it.
The media has been major enablers of greenmail, rarely mentioning the conflicts involved and so the public hasn’t heard about it. But it’s there and it’s big and it’s well past time to do something about it.