By Any Other Name Would Smell The Same

Transparency International puts out a yearly Corruption Perception Index ranking the least to most corrupt countries in the world. Last year’s index (2015) covered 168 countries and found Denmark, followed by Finland to be the number 1 and 2 least corrupt countries. Somalia and North Korea were tied for most corrupt, followed by Afghanistan. The US was ranked at number 16 least corrupt (we’re not number one, not even in the top 10). Analysis ponders how such determinations can be made. There are no separate bank teller windows marked “Bribes, Kickbacks and Extortion: Payments and Withdrawals”. In all these countries, government officials (as well as un-officials) will simply say “Well, that’s the way it is done around here.” Obviously corruption must be determined through analysis – careful study of theory (the articulated framework of governance, like representative democracy, monarchy, war lord, etc.) and practice (verifiable evidence of what is done and how). Recently the Newark Advocate (2-23-16) presented a staff written, self-congratulating public service article (“Govdeals sales reach $1 million for county”). Of note would be the theory that, in a self-governing democracy, the trust of those governed should be confirmed by the government’s practice. The practice is the sale of government acquisitions openly to the highest bidder (“sales of unneeded, obsolete, surplus or confiscated property”…” through the online auction site”). These acquisitions are said to include “computers, automobiles, office equipment, jewelry, coins, telephones and other items”, also known as chattel. Analysis finds little need by government for “jewelry, coins, … and other items” except for law enforcement sting operations…? The government must have acquired these (“unneeded, obsolete, surplus or confiscated property”) through various and sundry means. Only a few days prior, one of these means was reported on by the very same newspaper. Again, in a self-laudatory piece (“Land bank to eliminate Second Street eyesore’ by Kent Mallett, 2-18-16), the government, consisting of the “Licking County Land Reutilization Corporation”, completed the acquisition of one property from a projected many throughout the county, also known as real property. The one (“the former lodge at 87 S. Second St.”) is to be disposed of by sale (“for $100”) to “Gutridge Plumbing”, which incidentally also happens to have “purchased area properties and removed homes in poor condition on Spencer and First streets.” When it comes to chattel, Licking County government seems only too eager to confirm the public trust through open sale. With real property, something else is preferred. Real property distinguishes itself from chattel according to Anglo Saxon legal heritage, which predates the US Constitution and is incorporated within. It is one of the foundations and fundamentals of power. The US Constitution affirmed this basis of power by granting real property holders equal legislative power to that of the voting demos, a senate to counter a house of representatives. Ditto is found with state government in Ohio. “Possession is nine tenths of the law” may be a cliché except that county government is deeply implicated in maintaining this, proving and verifying real property as opposed to chattel (through recorder, auditor, assessor, engineer, etc. and the laws mandating it). The transference of real property is a transference of power. Unlike the sale of chattel (“through the online auction”), the non-conforming “sale” of real property by “The County Land Bank board [which] includes [County Commissioner Tim] Bubb, [Newark Mayor Jeff] Hall, County Commissioner Duane Flowers, Licking Township Trustee Joe Hart and Licking County Treasurer Olivia Parkinson” to someone who has previously “purchased area properties and removed homes in poor condition on Spencer and First streets” is actually an arbitrary transference of power, by fiat, without public regard (not an open sale). “Well, that’s the way it is done around here.”

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