George Washington Plunkitt was a complicated politician from New York in the 1900’s. He had his own questionable way of seeing what’s right and what’s wrong. Plunkitt’s Ideas of right a wrong sometimes seemed to be off. However, some of his ideas about things that needed to be reformed were as true then as they are now. Plunkitt seemed to be a man that knew how to get what he wanted out of people with very little effort. From the perspective of an outsider this could make him hard to trust, but to people then this wasn’t a problem.
One thing that made his intentions unclear is how he talks about honest graft and dishonest graft. Plunkitt describes honest graft when he says; “Ain't it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is.”(3) Further reading into his description of honest graft it becomes clear that his brand of graft isn’t all that honest. Plunkitt explains how honest graft is where he gets a tip on plans for an area then goes and buys the land around it to sell it at a premium when it has become more desirable. Most of what Plunkitt says about dishonest graft is that it is robbing the treasury or working with gamblers. He makes it clear that the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft is very slight; and that most of the time people can’t tell the difference between the two.
Another of Plunkitt’s views that leaves a bit of a cloudy feeling is his view of looters and practical politicians. He explains the difference using Tammany Hall and the Philadelphia republicans as the examples. He says “The Philadelphians ain't satisfied with robbin' the bank of all its gold and paper money. They stay to pick up the nickels arid pennies and the cop comes arid nabs them.”(29) He makes it as clear as possible that a practical politician only takes just enough and that a looter takes more than his fair share. The explanation of this goes along with that of graft, it seems that he is trying to convince himself that he is honest and not doing any wrong.