Reading in The Economist
a distinction made by Paul
Kingsnorth, a leader of the uncivilization movement, a response to
climate change, made me wonder whether it is also important with
respect to government ethics. His distinction is between a "problem"
and a "predicament." A "problem" is something that can be solved. A
"predicament" is something that must be endured, for which there is
no real solution. When faced with a predicament, the appropriate
response is not to try to solve it, but rather to accept it and feel
grief for what is lost because of it.
Government ethics programs are intended to prevent and enforce
against the misuse of public office for personal benefit. But is the
use of public office for personal benefit a "problem" or a
"predicament"? Can it be prevented, or is it just the way people
are, or the way people who get into politics are, or the way people
are who obtain public office and give in to the opportunities
presented by power and the pressures of their colleagues, friends,
business associates, and family members? Is this something we must
endure or something that can be changed?