Public service not necessarily a service to the public

Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

In the financial business, I act as a fiduciary. That means I am required to always put the interests of my clients first. In doing so, I put my own concerns and interests at the back of the line.

Politicians are public servants. I thought part of the job description was to be a type of fiduciary for the public trust. The question they should ask before each policy vote is, “What is best for my constituents?” Their own job security should be at the back of the line. Getting re-elected shouldn’t even cross their minds. Instead, public service has morphed into a take-no-prisoners climb to the top of the garbage heap of public office. Every decision is based on what will get that pol to the next level of the political game. And we all end up losing.

How can this happen in a democracy? Money from groups who don’t have Mississippians’ interests at heart is flowing into campaign chests of local candidates. They dictate positions and insist on allegiance to their objectives. Marketing strategists hold candidates hostage by telling them which votes will win in a 30-second ad and which will bury them.

Just go online and check out the campaign contributor list of your favorite politician. You’ll be shocked. Mississippi money just can’t compete, so voter influence is diminished. And I’m left wondering why anyone should be allowed to contribute to a campaign when they don’t even get to vote in the election.

The end result is a criminal loss of fiduciary duty. So the fight is on over bond issues and health care exchanges and gun control and hurricane relief, and no politician stops to ask, “What is best for my constituents?” They’re not even asking, “What is the right and honorable thing to do?” Their only concern is how to get through the next campaign. Their political ambitions trump public service.

So scream all you want. They can’t even hear you, because you don’t have enough money to get that treasured spot near their ear.

Mississippi deserves better.

 

>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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