Forty-four years ago Arkansas' own Senator J. William Fulbright published The Arrogance of Power which reflected his deep concern over the growing imperial attitude of the United States fueled by our military power as it was specifically applied to the ever expanding Vietnam War. He called it the "fatal impact of the rich and strong on the poor and the weak". Since that time there have been numerous other tomes written on this subject up to and including those dealing with the similarity between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq. More recently a different slant on the arrogance of power was written by a Dr. Robert R. Owens just this past March over his belief that "Americans face a naked power grab by those who seek to turn America into a regimented collectivist society", about which you can read more at http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/21252 . Since it is a theme that lives on with many variations, I would like to apply it to some more contemporary examples of "arrogance of power" involving public officials whether elected, appointed or hired.
On the national scene, how many times have we witnessed a fall from grace by members of our congress, as well as their lobbyist cronies, as a result of a blatant abuse of power driven by pure arrogance and, often times, money? Some have even been sent to jail for their misdeeds. Most recently, we have watched a long term veteran of the House of Representatives with a fifty year distinguished career in military and public service to this country, including chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, be convicted and censored by his own peers for his self-inflected mistakes. How sad to witness the picture of a dejected and beaten man, a victim of his own form of arrogance. Ironically, it was our own Wilbur Mills who, as chairman of that same committee, suffered a similar fate many years ago.
Then, we have state-wide examples of that same arrogance in state employees who game the retirement system by entering into brief periods of retirement to, essentially, double dip into the state treasury; state lottery officials who award themselves comp time, pay unsubstantiated and excessive travel expenses, fail to file proper financial reports, enter into unauthorized contracts and hire people without proper background checks (per an article by John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau at http://arkansasnews.com/2010/11/21/problem-filled-audit-report-may-lead-to-closer-scrutiny-of-lottery/ ); and then there is the mother of all examples of arrogance of power the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission which wants to write its own set of laws. Thankfully, in every one of these cases it has been that ever present and pesky press which has exposed these practices and, thereby, brought about some correction and needed reform to them.
And, finally, there is the local situation surrounding our Little Rock National Airport's recent experience with inappropriate spending of public funds by its Executive Director. This is an example of what could be best described as "Cookie Jar Arrogance" where responsible parties treat their access to the public treasury as if it were their own private account and spend it accordingly. In this case, thanks to one particularly vigilant Airport Commissioner and, once again, the press, this misdeed was exposed, appropriate contrition expressed by the offender and full restitution made by the recipient of these errant funds.
But the obvious danger in all of this type of misbehavior is that it completely destroys public trust in our political institutions, the people running them and those in oversight positions whose job it is to play watchdog over their activities. Along with that mistrust is the nagging feeling of what other indiscretions these people might be engaged in that we know nothing about. Or, just as disgraceful, will they resume practicing that same exposed "arrogance of power" once the dust settles? The key is to make sure that people of the highest character, ethics and judgment are placed in those positions to begin with and that they are made abundantly aware of what is and is not acceptable conduct.
On a more positive note, as we go into the holiday season, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com
Matt McLeod at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com
Will Barnet at http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,17315,23628,23670,24472,25834,26095,26328,26562,26637,26761,26790,26849,26992,27095,27126,27139,27147,27178&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=will+barnet&cp=9&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=xpfETMT1O4L6lwf66ugE&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQwAQ&biw=1350&bih=501
Barry Thomas at http://barrythomasart.com
Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com
Boswell Mourot Fine Art at http://boswellmourot.com