January 9, 2012

Embezzlement BFP Editorial DJU Response 010212 - Google Docs

My comments below published on Sunday, January 8, 2012 on the Burlington Free Press Forum Page with the headline "Transparency Won't Stop Embezzlers."

"Your editorial on Friday, December 30, 2011 (“As a matter of trust, state must guard public welfare”) incorrectly conflates a lack of government information transparency with state government’s failure in its responsibility to have prevented Vermont’s embezzlement epidemic.
You opine: “...state government is as responsible for the misbehavior as any official with the League of Cities and Towns or the Town of Bethel who has not employed preventive measures. State government at best has been indifferent and at worst irresponsible in regard to its obligation to provide at least a minimally effective watchdog. By this inaction, the custodians of grass roots governance have become the enablers of thievery.”
 The primary reason people steal from the public (and private) till is because they are dishonest. Surely, proper oversight by those closest to the action, i.e., supervisors and others who are responsible for the safety of funds, has been deficient for any number of reasons. To cast the blame for the rash of embezzlements on state government and connect it to your vendetta for government information transparency misses the mark. 
People steal because they want to or fail to resist the temptation of easy pickings. You may argue that more government is needed to make up for the moral deficiencies of humankind, but the truth is our ‘me first’ culture, the breakdown of morality, family connections and community values, is the root cause of this epidemic. This deficiency cannot be cured by yet more government laws, regulations and employees.
 Government transparency has nothing to do with this epidemic. A growing lack of individual responsibility and morality is the cause, pure and simple. Because that’s the underlying cause, anyone with fiduciary responsibility must guard the funds for which they are responsible and enforce safeguards already known and prescribed. Vigilant local supervision and safeguards are the solution."

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