One of the Chilean miners, after he had stepped out of the rescue capsule the other day, declared of his experience, "I met God. I met the Devil. God won." God won for him, his colleagues, Chile and the world.
Meanwhile, though, the Devil fared well in the United States last week. Consider this:
The Social Security Administration sent out $250 checks -- $18 million in all -- to 72,000 dead people.
Alan Hevesi, former Controller for New York State, who was the sole trustee for the state's large public pension fund, pled guilty to a charge of receiving $1 million in gifts and contributions from a money manager for steering $250 million of investments his way.
California, all but bankrupt, reported that last year it spent $467 million in taxpayer funds on scholarships to students at four-year colleges who failed to return for a second year.
The U.S. Postal Service, losing millions of dollars a month, has been giving cushy, non-bid contracts to former USPS executives. The USPS Inspector General found 17 of these contracts were given to former postal executives within a year of their retirement. One person received a no-bid $260,000 "knowledge transfer" contract. The IG reported, "These contracts were put in place even though highly experienced postal executives filled the positions vacated by the former executives." Depressed by this news? Cheer up (the Devil did), for the USPS will soon raise postage stamp rates -- again.
AMTRAK took the easier way out: It got rid of its Inspector General (two decades on the job) after he uncovered waste and abuse in senior levels of the railroad company. Among other things, his office questioned what it called "excessive use" by AMTRAK of outside lawyers.
Seventy-three people, led by a man who lived in the former Soviet Union, were rounded up for defrauding Medicare of $35 million-plus through phony clinics and stolen doctor and patient identities. This coast-to-coast crime ring gave their invented clinics P.O. box addresses and filed fake claims. Medicare fell for it. No doubt the Devil made them do it and he made them spend it already. Perhaps Mr. Obama can find a way to recover it.
Thousands of Medicaid recipients in California were given debit cards with which to buy food. Instead, more than a few of them hied themselves to Las Vegas and ran up gambling losses on the debit cards. This brings to mind the periodic revelations in Washington that credit cards issued by federal government agencies have been used for -- surprise -- vacations, jewelry, expensive dinners, etc. The Devil made the credit card holders do it, too.
There is nothing new about venality and greed (check the Bible for early details). Widespread goodness, however, seems in shorter supply than it used to. The rescue of the Chilean miners gave the world a refreshing reminder that good will, determination, courage, ingenuity and faith in God are still out there.