Another person out there trying again, of measurably more fame and public impact than me, is Stephen Glass.
Glass was a journalist who made many things up. He wrote for the The New Republic but was also published in numerous other magazines, like Rolling Stone Magazine, back in the late 90s of the last century.
Scandal ensued, hell broke lose, Glass was uncovered, wrote letters of apologies, and went on 60 Minutes, so you can fully judge the veracity of his sincerity. He published a novel about his misdeeds and a movie was made dramatizing his story. But not only had he lied and made up quotes, but then extended great efforts to thwart the fact-checkers in several cases.
So now...Glass wants to be a lawyer. He's clerking in California and has passed the California bar. He'd previously passed the New York bar. But...there are questions about his morals and ethics, and how sincere his apologies have been. Mr Glass was never convicted of doing anything wrong in any court but Mr Glass and his therapist say, "I've changed. Trust me."
Meanwhile, over in politics, we have Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, of the US House of Representatives, Time Magazine's 1995 "Man of the Year". Mr Gingrich, of the Moral Majority and Contract with America, is also trying again, this time trying to become the POTUS. Born a Lutheran, he became a Baptist, and then became a Catholic. Catholicism is the religion of choice for Callista Gingrich, Mr Gingrich's third wife.
Mr Gingrich resigned from Congress back in 1998, a day after his constituents re-elected him to another term. This, after acknowledging to an Ethics committee in 1997, "In my name and over my signature, inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee". The backdrop to this is that he was pursuing Mr Clinton, then POTUS, for having an affair and lying under oath. Despite this hypocrisy, Mr Gingrich also wants you to trust him to be President.
Alongside Mr Gingrich is Mitt Romney. Mr Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, and a businessman, is now running to become POTUS. Mr Romney also says, "Trust me." When he left office, his staff bought their government laptops. They had all the emails and digital trail of all the decisions he made destroyed. The Boston Globe had a great series of investigative articles into it. He hasn't done anything wrong. No one has convicted him.
Mr Romney also always demands that his opponents make their income tax returns public. He says if his opponents have nothing to hide, they should be quite willing to make these public. This year, he said that if he wins the Republican nomination for POTUS, he will not make his returns public. He has nothing to hide but he follows all the laws. In the matter of his income tax - does it matter? - and his records as governor, trust him.
All these matters are questions of trust and behavior. Isn't that what Megan's Law, and all the different variations, all about? Megan's Law requires convicted sex offenders to be registered. You might know it better by its proper title, The Sex Offender (Jacob Wetterling) Act of 1994. People are alerted that these sex offenders have moved into the neighborhood thanks to the registration. In many states, if the offender moves and doesn't update the register, they're hunted down and arrested anew.
There are differences between Megan's Law sex offenders and the other examples is that the sex offenders have been convicted in a court. But Michigan's study into the matter show that about 3.5% of the offenders will act again. The other 96.5% are first time or one time offenders. People argue, however, how do you know if a person is a first time or one time offender until they strike again?
So there you have it. Different levels of trust, and what trust means to us. On the sex offender side, we're protecting children. Some offenders have shown they will do it again, so all of them are forever tracked. Over in journalism and the land of the law, Mr Glass proved to do it again and again, but says now, he has changed, and he should be trusted. In politics, Mr Romney and Mr Gingrich say they should be trusted. They've done nothing illegal.
In the matter of the sex offenders, our public policy is that actions speak louder than words, and we can't tolerate another failure. In the matter of the law and Mr Glass, they're stating the same; per a SF Chronicle article, the bar lawyers say that Mr Glass didn't make a full list of his lies pubic until 2009, and never compensated anyone harmed by any of his articles. Those actions speak louder than his professions that he's a changed person.
Over in politics, I don't know how the rules worked. Actions and words are obsfuscated by rhetoric, poll numbers, and campaign ads. The question is, why do we believe some have changed and that others never will? Is it possible that some can change, that we can't make rules to cover every situation?
Our world is largely based on trust, although many people are becoming more and more suspicious of one another. There is email evidence in the banking scandal and mortgage fiasco that's contributed to a large part of our current global economic that bankers broke the rules and covered up their bad investments by bundling them with other investments and re-selling them. There is the robo-signing mortgage scandal, and the foreclosure scandal, where the banks don't have and do not have the proper titles, and the local law enforcement went ahead and initiated foreclosure proceedings. Documented evidence has emerged that the wrong houses were foreclosed on time and again.
These bankers and other capitalists say that they can't have regulations tie them down. Such regulations would restrict their ability to do business and make money, and if they can't make money, the country's economy will suffer. Trust us.
Meanwhile, there's a Fed law on the books that military members can't have their homes foreclosed upon while they're on active duty, yet that's been routinely happening.
So in the matter of trust, who do you trust? For who do you make laws, and for who do you enforce them? In the end, that's what the 99% and the OWS protestors are asking.
Who do you trust?
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com