Why Orszag's cashout is a big deal

I spend most of my time tracking the revolving door, and the way businesses use government for profit, and politicians and bureaucrats in turn monetize their “public service.” I wasn't shocked at all when Obama aid Peter Orszag cashed out to Citigroup, although I was disgusted. But at the Atlantic, veteran journalist James Fallows discusses why we should be shocked.

Fallows explains the situation expertly. The heart of the blogpost: 

I believe Orszag (whom I do not know at all) to be a faultlessly honest man, by the letter of the law. I am sorry for his judgment in taking this job,* but I am implying nothing whatsoever “unethical” in a technical sense. But in the grander scheme, his move illustrates something that is just wrong. The idea that someone would help plan, advocate, and carry out an economic policy that played such a crucial role in the survival of a financial institution — and then, less than two years after his Administration took office, would take a job that (a) exemplifies the growing disparities the Administration says it's trying to correct and (b) unavoidably will call on knowledge and contacts Orszag developed while in recent public service — this says something bad about what is taken for granted in American public life.

I would add that this is good reason to examine who's benefitting from a proposed policy, and to distrust government solutions to problems.

 

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