Father and son mug shots. That’s something you don’t see every day. Forgive the Schadenfreude. Normally I’m such a nice lady, but today I just can’t seem to help myself.
The story in the online New Mexican only has the picture of Jerome Block père. Such a pity. The one of Jerome Block fils (today’s front page of the print version featured both) is even better — from a Schadenfreude point of view, that is. Oh, wait. Joe Monahan has it.
I realized after writing the above that it sounds as though I simply don’t like Jerome Block and his father, and am taking pleasure in their misfortune. I don’t dislike Block because he’s a product of nepotism, or because he got drunk and urinated in public as a callow youth, or even because he’s an elitist.
In truth, what bothers me the most about the Block case has nothing to do with the Blocks themselves, either one of them. It has to do with our — the taxpayers of New Mexico — money.
New Mexico has public financing of state elections. This means that Jerome Block, Jr., an uninspiring candidate by all accounts — and one who nearly lost to a Green Party opponent in a County where Democrats pretty much never lose to anybody of any party — got to run for and win a cushy government job on our dime, when he wouldn’t have had a prayer of doing it if he’d had to raise his own campaign funds.
The amount Block is accused of embezzling is paltry, but because it is our tax dollars — extracted from us by governmental force — rather than campaign contributions freely given by donors who believed in Block’s candidacy, the alleged theft is doubly significant.
In truth, the few thousand dollars Jerome Block allegedly stole from the taxpayers is far less significant than the millions of dollars New Mexico extracts — with perfect legality — from the taxpayers to fund candidates like Block in elections all over the state. That is the theft we should be angry about.
The penny-ante larceny of which Jerome Block, Jr., is accused is small potatoes when compared with the great, hulking pork roast that is the public financing of campaigns. And yet it’s Block’s downfall that makes headlines and attracts public outrage.
What makes me angry and ashamed is that I almost fell for it myself. Last night I wrote that post about the Blocks, father and son, and focused on exactly what the media — complicit in the outrageous theft that is publicly financed campaigns — wanted me to. Look how the mighty have fallen. Ha-ha. Look at the once-powerful fat cats in their prison garb. Boy, they got what they deserve. Look how the system works.
The system doesn’t work. The system steals from all of us so that any Tom, Dick, Harry or Jerome can run for office without the support of enough people to pay for their campaigns. This is wrong. This is embezzlement on a statewide scale. And the sad, sick thing is that it is completely, perfectly, 100% legal.
And why is it legal? Because we, the citizens of New Mexico, are either too stupid or too lazy to do anything about it. And as long as we remain stupid and lazy, we are going to be robbed blind by the political classes that consider our money public property. And we will deserve it.