American History: Honest Graft By George Washington Plunkitt Essay
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George Washington Plunkitt made a distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. Plunkitt discussed honest graft by saying, “I seen my opportunities and I took 'em” (Riordan, ch. 1). In saying so, Plunkitt referred to his way of purchasing land he forecasted would be useful for public projects at inflated prices. Dishonest graph, on the other hand, was explained by Plunkitt in this wise: “blackmailin' gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc.” (Riordan, ch. 1). What Plunkitt tried to explain is that the commission of dishonest graph involves not only the price inflation of purchased lands, as in the case of honest graph, but also the exertion of undue influence in the kind of public projects that will be built on them.
Plunkitt said, “you won't make a lastin' success of [the political game] if you're a drinkin' man” (Riordan, ch. 19). In that case, it is clear that Plunkitt condemned the consumption of liquor, even though he was friends with saloonkeepers. Moreover, Plunkitt said that those members of the Tammany Hall who are known to drink a little are regarded to have less power.
In describing party bosses, Plunkitt invoked his position on honest graft, noting, “there is honest graft and dishonest graft. The bosses go in for the former” (Riordan, ch. 20). Given that, Plunkitt noted that party bosses are “better [judges] ofDemocracy” capable of [keeping] out undesirable voters” (Riordan, ch. 20). For Plunkitt, party bosses keep democracy stable since by determining voting patterns, they gain genuine support through patronage patterns – a view that is otherwise deemed incompatible with the current practice of democracy.
Corruption was prevalent throughout the United States (US) during the late 1800s mainly because of the control political bosses have exerted. Nonetheless, the efficiency in which economic growth has expanded under political bosses has allowed them to get away with their corrupt practices.
Riordan, William, ed. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall. Urbana-Champaign, IL: Project Gutenberg, 2013. eBook.
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