The Lesson of Scoundrels is one of crime and punishment. The author tells the story of a number of men, some of them probably were great men, most were well educated and all had driving ambition far above that of most. The book focuses on elected scoundrels, as it is those placed in high office by the people who then betray that trust whom we most abhor.
The individuals described can all be characterized by a monumental and unrealistic sense of self-worth, outrageous hubris and a mile-wide streak of pure greed so powerful that they risked all to grab the golden ring whenever it came into their reach- that the proverbial ring belonged to the people meant absolutely nothing!
Greed drives the elected white collar criminal who learns to steal, lie and defraud the people he serves, believing that because he is who he is, he can act with impunity. In almost every case, the characters described in this book were not entirely bad men- each and every one of them did some good or tried to and were loyal to their friends and family. After all, even Hitler loved his dog!
What exactly led them to throw it all away for money you will have to decide for yourselves. Scoundrels tells you who they were, what they did and what it eventually cost them at the bar of justice. In most cases, the law finally did catch up with them- mostly by the opposing party dropping a dime. A few have so far remained free from the clutches of the law but, with reputations so tarnished that, in most cases, they are beyond salvage.
For you students of the law, give some serious thought to how these bad guys were caught, the laws they broke and how the courts dealt with them. Most of them were lawyers themselves but likely forgot their lessons in ethics. None of these mendacious rascals cared a whit about morals or ethics when they might get in the way of some easy money.
All of the men in this book were and are successful politicians, outgoing, gregarious and, when in top from, bursting with a magnetic enthusiasm (charisma) that draws voters to them like flies to honey. Their powerful personalities and determined energy brought them to high office- many were state governors and all were in positions to get their sticky fingers into the people's cookie jar.
The book presents only a small sampling of the vast number of crooked public servants. It's highly likely that the percentage of elected officials, in any capacity, who have not misappropriated public funds, in one way or another, is very small- I would venture to guess the percentage of truly honest politicians (oxymoron) is well under twenty percent. The only difference between the vast majority of elected public servants and those identified in this book is that the former haven't yet been caught.
There is a discernible and tragic flaw in many, if not most, of those we choose to represent us. Perhaps, it is because honest, reasonable and intelligent men do not care to run for public office, preferring to retain the peace and happiness of private life. Given the unscrupulous nature of the modern media, I don't blame anyone for avoiding public office. Whatever the reasons, we, the people, are the losers.
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