Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lack of Honesty = Not the Best Policy

Linked from Instapundit:

The Washington Post reports that "Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed. Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited."

My only familiarity with online payment systems is in the software industry, where there are strict export control rules on what kind of code can go where. Similar to campaign donation rules, the export rules dictate who can and can't buy product from you. The Department of Commerce has a list of "no go" countries for technology export, and a list of denied persons. In the same vein, campaign donation laws limit the amount of money a person can give and prohibit donations from foreign nationals, among other restrictions.

In the realm of export control, you must have a fairly sophisticated system in place up front before you distribute technology. Many technology vendors use a pre-packaged software system that is explicitly designed to weed out fake purchasers and check the denied country and denied persons list. An individual using a "pre-paid" credit card wouldn't get very far, I'm willing to bet.

For the very same reasons - indeed for even more important reasons - a campaign should look to follow the laws regarding donations to the Nth degree. Obama defends himself by saying "the law doesn't require that we check beforehand, only after" but give me a break: what is illegal is using prohibited funds. Why follow the letter of the law when you are, in truth, breaking the spirit of it?

Scripture calls us to truth, to honesty, to right living. It doesn't call us to skate the fine edge of the law; instead we are to walk the straight, narrow path of righteousness. Read Proverbs if you don't believe me.

"He whose walk is upright fears the Lord, but he whose ways are devious despises him." -- Proverbs 14:2

"A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man." -- Proverbs 12:2

"The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward." -- Proverbs 11:18

"Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death." -- Proverbs 10:2

"Better than a little righteousness than much gain with injustice." -- Proverbs 16:8

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