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Commentary: Be honest, we all wish to be VIPs

  • Story Highlights
  • Martin says most people would take a good deal from Countrywide
  • We are a nation that likes free stuff, he says
  • If preferential treatment is legal, we'll jump at the VIP perks, he says
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By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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Join Roland Martin for his weekly sound-off segment on CNN.com Live at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday. If you're passionate about politics, he wants to hear from you.

Roland Martin says we all like preferential treatment if we can get it.

Roland Martin says we all like preferential treatment if we can get it.

(CNN) -- Be honest: How many of you are really shocked to find out that a bunch of Washington insiders were part of a VIP program coordinated by mortgage giant Countrywide Financial?

The story was first reported by CondeNast's Portfolio magazine, and everyone else has jumped on it since. Based on what we know, folks like former Housing and Urban Development honcho Alphonso Jackson, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala got favorable loan terms from the mortgage behemoth.

My first reaction was, "Man, these folks are dumb to think they could get away with it!" But as I was preparing to go on CNN Tuesday, it dawned on me that if most folks were in the same situation, and it wasn't illegal, they would love to have the hookup!

We are a nation that loves anything VIP. Come on, don't sit there and try to be so righteous. If you had an opportunity to be a part of the program, you would jump at it.

OK, fine. Let's do something on a smaller scale. Do you remember when you were in high school and you found out that you had a buddy working at the movie theatre, your first thought had to be, "Cool! I get to get in free!"

You could apply that same response to a girlfriend working at the fast food restaurant. "Uh, oh, free burgers every Friday night!"

We are a nation that likes free stuff. And if we can bypass a line in order to feel privileged, we'll do it.

Ever been to a club and you were one of the unfortunate folks standing behind the velvet rope? It must burn you up to see these flashy folks walk to the front of the line and have the beefy security guard, who unceremoniously turned you away, welcome them with open arms.

That, folks, is the VIP treatment. And no one standing in that line likes it. But in their minds they are saying, "Now what do I need to do to be like them?"

Professional athletes? They get the hookup all the time. TV and big-screen stars? Oh, you know they are always getting the preferential treatment.

This is in no way an effort to excuse the behavior of these politicos. They are undoubtedly using their positions as elected officeholders to get something the average Joe can't. But don't average Joe and Jane like it when they also get something by virtue of their connections?

I just want us to be honest about all of this. A lot of times when stories like this come out, we get hot and bothered, angered about the have and have nots in our society, but they exist on every level.

Right now, in some small town, suburb or big city, there are star athletes who get free meals and other perks from local establishments for doing well on the field or the court. Should they? According to the rules, no. But how many parents are quick to say, "Oh, no, don't do that. It's just not right"? Again, be honest.

This is what some call situational ethics. Depending on the situation, and what side of the wall you're on, you might think it's wrong and outlandish to get the VIP treatment. But if you somehow ascend to that VIP class, your philosophy will likely change. Just admit it!

Just watch a lot of media folks -- radio talk show hosts, TV pundits, and newspaper columnists -- decry these Washington insiders for getting the hookup, but if you get the truth from them, they'll have to confess that even they have received benefits by virtue of their "celebrity" status.

So, before everyone goes off the deep end, just make sure you're not being a hypocrite and judging someone else for something you have accepted or would readily accept if you were also a VIP.

Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning journalist and CNN contributor. Martin is studying to receive his master's degree in Christian communications at Louisiana Baptist University. You can read more of his columns at http://www.rolandsmartin.com/.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

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