Who gets to the top? The charges against Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, give us a chance to cogitate on that question.
“Lagarde faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail if found guilty of the very serious charges. It was when she was President Nicolas Sarkozy’s finance minister that she is said to have authorised a 270 million pounds payout to one of his prominent supporters, so abusing her government position. The money went to Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match fixer and tax dodger who supported Lagarde and Sarkozy’s UMP party. It came after Dominque Strauss-Kahn, another senior French politician, was sacked as IMF chief following allegations that he attempted to rape a chambermaid in a New York hotel. Ms Lagarde began campaigning to succeed Mr Strauss-Kahn soon after his arrest for the alleged crime. But now it is Ms Lagarde, a lawyer and retired synchronised swimming star, who is facing a long court process of her own, as well as a possible jail sentence. The scandal will not only pile further shame on France’s political class, but worry politicians and bankers desperately trying to resolve the global financial crisis.”
Strauss-Kahn managed to convince prosecutors that he was not guilty of rape. But his defense is that he is a self-confessed sleazy dirtbag—one of many in government. Supposedly, by the standards of liberalism, being given over to lawless impulses does not in any way mean one is likely to pursue power or privilege or prosperity by lawless means. No, everyone making a career in government has complete and total integrity—just like we see in the even-handed way our IRS jobholders have enforced the law or the taxpaying habits of Timothy Geithner before he was caught.
So now Lagarde has been caught paying off and getting support from a quasi-underworld figure. (Like attracts like!) And yet here, as elsewhere, the media invariably reports this as if the crime were some kind of anomaly. No matter how many “anomalies” pile up on one another, the media has one and only one story:
People in government are basically good and human life could not flourish without their needed help, but occasionally one goes bad. When one goes bad, we report this as a public relations disaster but never as a real reason to rethink our position that people in government are basically good and human life could not flourish without their needed help.
The world is full of people who are relatively good and relatively bad, but what makes anyone think that they are distributed throughout the world and through all the possible vocations in a statistically random manner? We live in the age of big government, of huge, tax-sucking nation-states. What kind of people will be attracted to hold positions in those bureaucracies?
More than that: What kind of people will succeed in such positions? Who will be more likely to flatter and fight their way to advancement? Who will pay the price?
What kind of people will see all that power and have the desire, will, and ability to claw their way to the top?
People who are willing to purchase support and give illegal favors in return for it, that’s who.
Christine Lagarde is not an anomaly. She’s the perfect politician.