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More On Opportunity Costs

June 1, 2015

This isn’t good timing – on a morning when we woke up to read how the Dorego, Bonamo and Pidgeon probes might implicate our Governor in wrongdoing – but once again, we find ourselves wondering about the prosecution of pols.

Sometimes we wish we could be like so many others and just say: “Ah, fuck ‘em. They’re all crooks, bums.”

But that’s not the sentiment of anyone in our group. Just the opposite. For example, the Dennis Hastert case. Why? Why did the Feds have to make that case? And how, exactly, did they make it?

First, the why. There’s no complaint from a victim. If there was, we’d say, of course, prosecute. In fact, we believe that despite the problems in pursuing abuse cases decades later, there should be no statute of limitations.

But in this particular instance, at least as far as we know now, no one has stepped forward to accuse Hastert of harm, molestation. Instead, this is the Feds doing that thing that they do, which is to monitor money transfers. They do this with really sophisticated, multi-level surveillance platforms and it’s akin to the development of the fingerprint in terms of modern criminal justice, but it’s being used to do what? Catch people like Hastert and Spitzer and the guys at FIFA.

Now please, no, a thousand times no, we’re not condoning any kind of misconduct or crime. It’s just that if we were calling the shots at the FBI we’d have a different set of priorities for their special unit responsible for tracking asset flow.  We’d focus on terrorists, drug lords, ethnic mobs, gangs, identity thieves, foreign currency manipulators, and companies that are fronts for international industrial espionage and arms dealing. That’s for starters.

We’d get around to pols at some point, maybe. But it wouldn’t be high on our priority list because we really don’t care about other people’s sex lives. Come to think of it, we don’t care that much if pols use their position to convince some private business interest to overpay for consulting services. We can’t get worked up if a pol puts in for mileage from the state and also seeks reimbursement from his campaign account for the same expense. We shrug when they use campaign funds for stupid things.

Again, we’re not condoning any of this crap. It’s just that were not terribly worried about the consequences of it, whereas the activities of the terrorist cell in Rochester, the meth lab in Endicott, and Russian mob in Schenectady concerns us a lot more.

Think about this: All prosecutorial offices are pressed for resources and manpower. The Feds are no exception. In fact, the Feds might be stretched thinner than others.

So is someone somewhere who is really smart asking the big question of whether these offices have the right focus? Is someone saying: “What aren’t we doing because we’re doing the Hastert case?”

Nobody is going to remember this admonition from our obscure blog, but two or five or ten years from now, there is going to be a situation that threatens all of us, and as it unfolds, it will be apparent that it was taking root in our time, right now, when, instead of tracking real threats, the Feds were busy trying to clean up politics.

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