Unemployment in America

It's often said that it's hard to get a break when you get out of prison, no matter how determined you are to stay on the straight and narrow. The memorable scene in Heat where the ex-con has to kick back a portion of his minimum wage salary to stay on the payroll of his greedy manager illustrates the sword hanging over the head of any felon who wants to prove they are trying to rejoin productive society.

Fortunately, people at the top are listening and taking action to bring dignified work back to those caught transgressing against our social contract. The Bush administration has lead by example, operating a six year long effort to dredge up dozens of convicted and indicted members of the Reagan government and put them in charge of programs affecting the lives of millions of Americans. Take Poindexter, who went from destroying Iran-Contra evidence under Reagan to gathering our most private information under Bush's "Total Information Awareness" program. Or Robert Gates, wheeled out of the CIA 15 years ago for lying to congress, now brought back to restore honesty and integrity to the Pentagon. Also notable is John Negroponte's ascension to national security advisor after an infamous run circumventing US law in the mid 80s as ambassador to Honduras. It's heartwarmingly puzzling to think about how the ethically compromised ambassador to a small nation like Honduras could ever be tapped to become national security advisor. All I can say is that George Bush sure does believe in giving a man a second chance.

A cynic might question whether these plum new jobs for old crooks are a suitable path back to wholesome respectability. It really takes a mind as subtle as that of George W. Bush to see that to really reform a man, to free him of his past, you must put him in exactly the type of temptation that he succumbed to last time. If he succeeds and is not caught doing the same sort of things again (within statute of limitations) you can say that he has truly been rehabilitated. If you don't give him a chance to walk alone and un-surveilled past the unguarded cookie jar of our democracy, you'll never be able to blindly trust him again. On the contrary, it's only by surrounding him with smiling, familiar faces in a consequence-free environment like the Bush administration that we can keep such men from falling back in with a bad crowd.