Money troubles, like those of Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield, show signs of more trouble

March 7, 2013

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Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

Show me somebody with money trouble, and I’ll show you a crook in the making!

While not everyone who finds themselves in a financial bind ends up breaking the law, many are tempted to cross the line when their wallets get squeezed. People with money troubles are desperate. They take chances. They make questionable choices. They rationalize. And many end up behind bars.

And so goes the tale of another Mississippi politician caught with his hand in the till. Paul Winfield, Mayor of Vicksburg, is yet another in a long line of local public servants who has ended up on the wrong side of the law. Was Winfield a born thief or did circumstance turn his integrity to jello?

Maybe he just had everyone fooled into thinking he was one of the good guys, the savior Vicksburg had been looking for. Or maybe he just got in over his head financially. Faced with the slippery slope, Winfield dove headlong down the hill to ruin.

But he’s not alone. From the hills of Northeast Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi has more than its share of politicians who have ended up as convicted felons. Sad to say, it’s not just a Mississippi problem. Politicians at all levels have been showing up on the front pages for their dastardly deeds. I’m beginning to feel like Diogenes, searching for that one honest man (or woman) out there who is willing to serve.

The standard requirement has been for politicians to release their tax returns. I think a better choice would be to require them to release their credit reports. Politicians who scream about deficits lose their credibility when I see them with a truckload of credit card bills. Politicians with a stream of creditors behind them can forget about my vote. And the politician who is behind on child support? I’m thinking tar and feathers.

Forget winning smiles and snappy slogans. Forget glossy pictures of your perfect family with the label “Deacon of the Church” below your name. Forget press conferences in front of a bunch of flags.

Just show me a candidate with a 750 credit score!

» 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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