mad in pursuit journal


Institutions Go Bad

Here's a dark thought for an autumn morning: evil is more powerful than good. More precisely: bad things happen and criminals go unpunished because the good guys get caught up in politics.

We've been renting DVDs of the HBO series "The Wire." (Just started Season 2 last night.) It's a complex drama about the Baltimore police and the criminal activities they confront. (Turning on the subtitles is advised if you're a slow-talking white person.) The story arcs illustrate my dark thought to a T. The police are caught up in their bureaucracy — misguided statistics, resources never matching priorities, the usual — and their petty vendettas against one another. In comedies like "The Office," you see how stupid workplaces are, but you never see the consequences in society. In "The Wire," a few bad guys get picked off, but corruption as a whole is untouched.

Congress is another example — an organization so wrapped up its own partisan feuds and re-election fevers that it has forgotten its purpose — serving We the People. Corruption takes hold.

Why is this? Shouldn't Good vs. Evil be a more balanced duel? A fair fight? Bat an eyelash, and good institutions dissolve into petty politics. Lop off the head of a crime or terror network or get one sex pervert to resign from Congress and five more pop up. I don't get it.


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