If I had a dollar for every time the words “crony” and “cronyism” appear in print these days, well, I’d be flush. When I plugged those terms into Nexis, the database warned me it would take a while to tally the thousands of media stories from the past few years containing either expression.
As an epithet in political discourse, “cronyism” has skyrocketed in use over the past two decades. Occupy Wall Street lefties and Tea Party righties alike love the term. Just last week, The Hill carried an opinion piece decrying cronyism at the stodgy Postal Service, of all things.
Unfortunately, the more often the term is used, the more often it is misused. The term “crony” may have sprung from the ancient Greek word khronios, which roughly translates to ‘long-lasting.’ This would make sense, since the charge of cronyism denotes the dispensing of favors (jobs, contracts, etc.) to one’s longtime associates (family and friends). Cronyism carries with it the connotation that those on the receiving end of the charge are incompetent and reaping favors in exchange for kick-backs (e.g., campaign donations) to their government benefactors….(Read more)