Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Ethics Of Chris Christie

The Governor has indicated that he will unveil 1 new reform initiative a week for the next 4 weeks. Initiative 1 -- ethics reform. As part of the Governor's plan, he would seek to stop people from collecting 2 public paychecks. So, for example, a teacher, fireman or policeman cannot collect a second public salary if that public employee is elected to public office.

Thus, we have an interesting opportunity to gain insight into what the Governor does and does not consider ethical. The Governor's probable concern is cronyism -- finding elected officials second jobs on the public dime so that they can afford to stay in office and vote as their patron would have them vote. For the record, the logic of extending that concern to public employees who win elections escapes me.

What I see is that this Governor is committed to using every power available to him to further his agenda. The Governor wants to weaken the control public employees have over state government. Since expanding a legitimate ethics concern to also limit the number of public officials running for office furthers that goal, the Governor sees no ethical conflict in doing so.

Simply put, the Governor believes that enlightened self-interest is the best route to the greater good. The world works best when everyone pursues their self-interest to the greatest extent possible, even to the detriment of others. Or, simply put, what's good for Chris Christie is good for the State.

And I believe that elected officials should put the public interest above self-interest, enlightened or otherwise. What's good for the State is good for Chris Christie.

So the Governor's efforts to minimize the ability of public employees to oppose him is perfectly ethical in his view. And to me it is unethical because it is in the interest of the State to have the most qualified people in office, even if those qualified people didn't vote for Chris Christie.

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