With politicians like these, who needs enemies?
ABC News (Australia) reports how our beloved treasurer Wayne Swan was jumping up and down, complaining that banks did not hand on the 0.25% cut on interest rates as offered by the Reserve Bank of Australia. A “Kick up the bum” is what the banks need, he said.
“Certainly it’s not helpful when we’re trying to get everyone in the community working together to deal with this global financial crisis”.
Actually, it’s the politicians who need the kick up the proverbial. It is the politicians who need to wake up to their consciences. They go to such pains to pretend that they are on the side of the public, yet at every turn they make decisions that favor banks and not the people. Guaranteeing bank deposits does nothing more than prop up banks (there are other places to store your cash). Bailing out the unemployed by giving them ‘mortgage relief’ is nothing more than propping up banks (they will be long term unemployed – forever is not long enough for some). The first home buyers’ grant is nothing more than propping up banks (artificially high home prices). All of this at the expense of the tax payer. Poor Mr. Swan is saddened and upset because the banks didn’t give give him the political sweeteners he was hoping for.
It isn’t just banks, of course. The petrochemical industry also has a long history of getting favorable treatment in cunning and shifty ways. Why do we depend on trucking for practically all our land based transportation? Why do people in cities need cars at all? Why is every transportation project a road construction project and not a rail project? The answers to these questions are similar to those about the banking industry.
Australian society is far from being a meritocracy, far from efficient, primarily because of this kind of corruption. Crying poor is utter nonsense. Australia is a nation with a small population sitting atop a veritable gold mine of resources, skills and productivity. It’s only ‘poor’ because, despite how easy it is to do a good job, our politicians are, as always, hell-bent on screwing the people over, failing to manage anything properly, from water resources to money. They would struggle to organize a piss-up in a pub, unless the bankers told them how.
Frankly, it would be in the national interest if the housing market collapsed, because people would finally be able to default on loans which they should never have been given. House prices would finally fall to reasonable values so that those with jobs and families can afford to buy them and own them. It would be in the long term national interest if private debt were all but eliminated, such that banks became places of storing money, not printing money.
There is collusion between government, bankers and the media to make the public believe that everything is okay, that life doesn’t need to change. On the contrary, it is an urgent need for people, especially those living in cities, to think about how much they are dependent on the national infrastructure: electricity, food, water, transportation, education, health. There should be a rush towards independence in this regard, because the current degree of national mismanagement (whether intentional or otherwise) pretty much guarantees that the national infrastructure is destined to fail spectacularly.
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:
- The abolition of political parties
- Smaller, population limited constituencies making up a larger parliamentary system
- 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.
- Direct election of all major leaders, be they presidents, prime ministers or premiers/governors
- 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.
Blackouts in Melbourne tonight are another in a series of events that show up the deep seated corruption which has plagued Victoria for over a decade. Ever since the treacherous sale of public owned infrastructure to private hands, there has been woefully inadequate maintenance and expansion thereof to meet the needs of an ever expanding, ever growing Melbourne:
- Catchment areas selectively logged with no planning for increased water requirements
- No rail network expansion and growing reliance on buses
- Private tollways
- Schools closed, merged, land sold off for townhouses
The list goes on and on. Perhaps it’s a healthy thing for people to be forced to sit down in the heat and think about the chain of events that has led to this monumental failure of infrastructure management.
When are heads finally going to roll on all of this?