What was your reaction when you heard the news about Eliot Spitzer? Moral outrage? Here we go again? Embarrassment for his wife and daughters? Partisan opportunity? What the hell do you get for $5,500 (or $4,300) an hour? I have heard some version of all of these in the past 72 hours.
But my reaction was much simpler. I am pissed at Eliot Spitzer.
Not because of what he did specifically, I'm pretty sure his wife has that angle covered.
No, I'm pissed because every time we are reminded that human weakness is the issue, we respond by making more rules and obstacles and checkpoints and oversight to prevent it from happening again. And it makes it easier for people who are in the "dis-trust business" (expense account departments, the IRS, bureaucrats) to assert that they are the only line of defense against all the cheaters in the world.
The "dis-trusters" had a good week. Their budgets will probably go up. They will get to say, "I told you so", or "I knew he was too good to be true." It will be hard to argue with their requests for more rules, more oversight and more intrusive monitoring. And once those new rules are enacted, they are with us for life.
The problem is that all the additional rules won't stop a dishonest person, and don't do anything to address human weakness, they just make life harder for the rest of us, who are honestly trying to get things done and follow the rules and make a difference.
Thanks a lot, Eliot.