Surfing Porn on the Public Dime

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Bernie Madoff and all the other scandals regarding lack of oversight and enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now make a lot more sense.  The SEC’s Office of the Inspector General’s summary regarding 33 investigations into the wide spread use of pornography on SEC computers has become public and is quite, ahem, revealing.  Apparently, during the last two years, high ranking government employees making between $99K and $220K have been looking at porn — a lot of porn.  In fact, one senior attorney spent eight hours per day exercising his “1st Amendment right” to free porn, and there were plenty of other similar stories.

I have two real concerns with this story.  As the CEO of the nations’ largest public policy organization for women, I am outraged that my tax dollars paid for the salaries for these men and women while they wasted time instead of doing their jobs.  This brings to light an insidious use of government waste and fraud by a government regulatory body while the nation teetered on the edge of economic collapse.  Really?!  Why weren’t these folks immediately fired upon exposure?  As of today, only one person investigated “resigned.”  Typical of big government agencies, folks never get fired.  They just get reassigned to another cubicle.  The fact that they were not for the most part disciplined only leads me to conclude that the SEC is being mismanaged, and I seriously wonder how more power and authority is expected to magically fix the problem.

Finally, my other concerns center around the folks investigated.  They are perfect examples of how some people become truly addicted to porn to the point that they can no longer lead normal lives or have healthy relationships.  The pornography business is an over $13 billion per year enterprise with profits larger than the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined.  It is literally everywhere and prevalent to the point where moms can barely protect their kids from inadvertent exposure.  It dehumanizes women in general and abuses the women (many of whom were victimized as children) in particular.

Porn coarsens our society and also hurts those who view it.  Mary Ann Layden, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, said in a Wired.com interview that, “Porn is the most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of.”  She also said it is a more difficult habit to kick than cocaine.  Clearly the government workers at the SEC, and perhaps other agencies, would agree.  I believe strongly that is time for a government-wide response to the wasted hours and human toll of a society that refuses to admit that porn harms.

Today, I call on President Obama to require a government investigation into how widespread this problem exists, and set up proper disciplinary action for those caught wasting our money.  I believe in porn addiction, but we also drug test federal workers.  I seriously doubt the SEC is the only government agency with a porn problem.  Last year, it was uncovered that employees at the National Science Foundation also spent hours and hours looking at porn on the job.

Enough is enough.  More than just a slap on the wrist is needed for these employees and the supervisors who manage them.

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