Figure skating rules until rather recently, denied judging and sport management to any who made their living from the sport. I t was called a ‘conflict of interests’. That is, a coach judging skaters might see reason to favor either his own students or those of an associate while a rue maker might warp the rules in favor of some particular contestant in which he had an financial interest. In politics, we call these: “corruption.”
In recent decades those rules have been thrown out; the sport is now judged by coaches and they help make the rules. The very idea of ‘conflicts of interests’ has been tossed; now it seems unfair to deprive coaches making their livings from teaching figure skaters when they cannot participate in rulemaking. A revision in viewpoint has occurred.
Similarly there was a much-publicized 1959 scandal over ‘payola’ for radio disc jockeys. When several were found receiving money from record companies and artists’ agents to play their music often, a number of the offenders were fired for selling their favors under the table. They were thought to be profiting from handing an unfair advantage to certain individuals for money.
This sort of thing is hard to keep down; another scandal a few decades later came to light when mighty Sony was discovered to be buying popularity for its artists in a similar fashion. That cost Sony a pile of money. But time was passing and things began to change: Politico not long ago wrote in complaint that another publication was simply stonewalling payola for its producers of political opinion.
Now we have the discovery that TV host Ed Schultz at MSNBC has received over a hundred fifty thousand dollars in one year and about seventy five thousand the year after, from labor unions. Unsurprisingly, Schultz has spoken favorable of the unions on his show. Now we see a cogent reason for him to do that and it is not the reason that he mentioned at the time.
Instead of the erupting scandal that greeted payola to DJ’s in 1959, the current disclosure of Schultz’ undisclosed sales of his services has aroused only yawns. Public perception has changed; people ‘serving’ the public are now expected to be prostitutes. And in fact, a movement is underway to decriminalize not only pot but also, prostitution. Why not?
Religion and morality related to it having been abandoned by so many these days, we won’t raise them as issues in this. We will instead, point to the inarguable historical fact that commerce is the sole mechanism that has enriched the ‘rich’ countries, the richest being the United States. And a necessary foundation of that commerce has been the ethical system that has allowed buyers to have enough confidence in sellers’ rectitude that they felt safe ordering from them, even at large distances with long waits for payment. It is no coincidence that the wealthiest places are also the least corrupt, just as it’s no coincidence that those places are products of the religious Reformation, a profound reaction against corruption.
But those places have largely abandoned their religious roots and with that, their natural aversion toward corruption. So Ed Schultz can flack for labor unions while posing as an objective ‘expert’ and none appear to care. But the religious will note that God is not mocked; the unbelievers might consider the might of Murphy. The ‘rich’ places on the earth are abandoning the morality upon which the trust that made them rich, is rooted. And along with it, unknowing and unthinking, they are abandoning their wealth and their children’s prospects. And there will be none for whom citizens can vote to put things right.