What Corruption Looks Like To Me

Hillary Rodham Clinton

As the National Review reports:

Hillary Clinton spoke at two separate Goldman Sachs events on the evenings of Thursday, October 24 and Tuesday, October 29. As both Politico and the New York Times report, Clinton’s fee is about $200,000 per speech, meaning she likely netted around $400,000 for her paid gigs at Goldman over the course of six days.

Does this feel deeply wrong to anyone else? Overpaid CEO’s are bad enough, but at least you can make a plausible argument that their compensation is in some way related to their contribution. Something like: the competitive advantage of having the best CEO justifies the price, even if his marginal work input doesn’t. Same basic idea for highly-paid professional athletes: a $10,000,000 player is not 10x better than a $1,000,000 player, but teams will pay a premium to get the very best.

But a speech? I’m sure it’s not technically anything as vulgar as a bribe, which would apply some kind of specific quid pro quo. You could see it as just some kind of bizarre conspicuous consumption, I suppose. “Look how awesome we are, we got Hillary Clinton.” But even that has sinister undertones, to me. Does anyone really think Hillary has anything that remarkable to say divorced from the power she wields? This is the kind of money you have to spend to get a private concert from a rock star, but at least then you know that there’s music involved. This? To me it just looks like the mechanism of America’s new aristocracy. Go to an elite school, enter “civil service” or get elected to a prominent office, and suddenly the world is your oyster. Whether it’s rampant insider trading at congressional offices (yes, that’s a thing) or just having money thrown at you for making speeches the message is clear: if you have influence in the government then you are no longer an ordinary human being. You’re not really a celebrity, either. You’re an aristocrat.

These people–liberal or conservative and Republican or Democratic–just don’t seem to be the same “we the people” as the rest of us.

4 thoughts on “What Corruption Looks Like To Me”

  1. So, at work we hold a large training conference every fall for users of our software. I asked the woman who organizes these what she pays to get the keynote speaker. She says to get someone you actually want to have, you’re starting around $20k. So we’re looking at just one order of magnitude difference, seems like a similar to your athlete comparison there. She said they looked once at getting Captain “Sully” from the Hudson crash, but his fee is $100k. Again, not wildly different from Hillary.

    And plenty of these are people who didn’t *just* have a prominent office. There’s a market for these speeches. Corporations pay the prices. It might seem distasteful, the same way ANY large pile of money seems to us puritanical Americans, but I don’t think it’s *inherently* corrupt.

  2. If you don’t object to money-as-speech when it comes to campaigns, surely this is an order of magnitude less troubling? Also, another example of why we need to pay our public servants on par with the private sector….

  3. This seems like something that’s only a problem when its someone you don’t like. Every 8 years Sean hannity become outraged or permissive of Presidents playing golf.

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