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Criminals get better retirement benefits

Charles ponzi

The prosperity of criminals represents an abject failure of current systems of democracy.

“I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad,” said one US businessman active in Iraq since 2003.

Who said crime does not pay? It was the title of a short film from 1935 about an embezzler who planned to get to his loot after doing his time in prison. He deceived his jailers by telling him that the proceeds of his crimes had been gambled away. It is a typical plot, both in fiction and reality. Yet generation after generation of the public will swallow this pathetic ploy used by swindlers everywhere to hide their stolen money, be it obtained by means of fraud or direct theft.

The fraud of Charles Ponzi was quite simple. Promise an irresistible return on one’s investment, deliver it to the first few to make it believable, and go from there. The trick, as subsequent schemers learned, was to disappear with the money before the authorities discovered you. Safer still, make sure that so many important people are implicated with you that they will all do their best to make sure you get off lightly.

Bernie Madoff did practically the same thing as Ponzi, except on a larger scale (more than US$50 billion) and from wealthier people. Naturally, the history of a fraud of this magnitude and duration will be difficult to ascertain. He says he told his sons of the fraud only this year and that he had kept everyone else in the dark about it. This is the kind of lame excuse one would expect from a child and not a university graduate, former chairman of NASDAQ and former treasurer of the American Jewish Congress. To get to these prestigious positions (and others) one has to have some capacity for sophisticated thought.

He is awaiting trial, but it is very likely that he has used some of the proceeds from his scheme to help those who he would later need to help him in return, yet he will have been extremely careful to cover his tracks in this regard. It is known that he was a financial supporter of the Democrats. Who knows how big that particular iceberg is. If it is as big as everything else that we have been seeing, then there truly is no hope left for justice to prevail in America, except through lynching.

But greater than all of these has been the extent of the massive fraud in Iraq, being at least US$125 billion. It involves money paid for construction and other projects that disappeared into the mists of the chaos that remains there. Many of the projects for which money was paid have never even been commenced.

The reason this corruption is so common at this time is that governments have been more or less completely corrupted. Democracy as it currently stands is a failed system of government, because a subset of society has outsmarted it. My reasoning is as follows:

The old system of separating judicial from legislative powers is no longer real. Common Law, which gives courts the ability to distort or even circumvent statutory law and change its interpretation in all subsequent cases, gives unreasonable power to judges. Small groups in society have, over many years, managed to get enough of their people into the judgment seat to take away its independence. As a result, Common Law can be twisted to reflect the ideological slant of those groups.

Politicians are called on to be the representatives of ever larger constituencies. This makes representation less meaningful. Politicians are also incapable of managing their workload, and rely heavily on staffers. Staffers in governments are frequently mentored and groomed for their positions by the same small groups which attempt to influence the makeup of the judiciary.

The media, if it happens to be also controlled by the same groups, can be used to cover up the manipulation of the democratic system by explaining away inconsistencies and diverting attention to other issues.

The end result is that Democracy can be overrun by a minority. It can be any minority group, so long as it has money and is organized enough to apply the above approach to both “sides” of politics. As it happens, criminal elements have taken over Democracy. As a result, financial fraud is rife. It’s gotten so big that it threatens to destroy the hand that feeds it.

Democracy, then, is like a game of Monopoly. It’s no longer fair or interesting once the game has been going on too long and someone has, a monopoly.

Yet Democracy is the “least worst thing” we have, but it is due for a revamp. It’s time for some proper thinkers to get to work and think up an improved system, which could possibly include:

  1. The abolition of political parties
  2. Smaller, population limited constituencies making up a larger parliamentary system
  3. Direct representation on major changes to legislation by the public, like mini-referenda, whereby the public is given veto powers through voluntary voting down of legislation. Essentially, the public should have an active seat in parliament.
  4. Direct election of all major leaders, be they presidents, prime ministers or premiers/governors
  5. Contracts for government administrative staff to coincide with the ministerial election period, with no protections beyond that period, such that these staff can be removed and replaced without difficulty or delay. Their make-up should then be readily influenced by the democratic process.

There’s more to it, of course, and this is an unashamed pipe dream. But perhaps if the general public was given some of its powers back, the criminals would not have the upper hand any longer.

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