Once upon a time in America, public service was viewed as a public duty and a public trust. And, as Thomas Jefferson said, "When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself public property."
There have always been some bad apples and a measure of public corruption. That is why there are laws such as the Ethics in Government Act, to guard against the few who have sought to take advantage of their positions.
Today, however, the concept of public duty and public trust has been seriously distorted and confused with the opportunity for private gain. Too often public duty is not viewed as an end in itself, but the pathway to be suffered en route to instant riches. The biggest pot of gold at the end of the rainbow now rests just outside the White House door.
Consider the comments of Edward J. Rollins as he was leaving his job as White House political director last fall. "I spent a lot of years doing things for love," said Rollins, then receiving a public salary of about $70,000 a year. "Now I'm going to do things for money." Indeed, Rollins estimated that he could reap an annual salary of $750,000 to $1 million as a lobbyist and political consultant.