Politicians, thieves and those greedy pigs in between.
It’s simple, easy and a mistake, to despise all politicians. In my experience, they’re actually like us and mostly decent people, and when push comes to shove, they’ll usually try to do their best for the people they’ve been elected to represent. To some extent or another, they all pursue power, which when you consider it, puts them in a situation most of us rarely find ourselves in.
Pretty much everyone in the circles they operate in is highly ambitious and also seeking power, so the only way forward is to do some horse trading with each other. Such necessary compromises make it all too easy to be cynical about politicians, but given the power thirsty dynamics of their peer group, there’s simply no other way if you want to get anything done. Politics, being the art of the possible, really does come down to doing the best for as many people as possible. The first lesson you learn in politics, is that you’ll only rarely get everything you wanted.
All politicians, without exception, are obliged to make compromises but the acid test of any politician’s integrity, is where they draw the line in terms of what is not up for negotiation. They never forget where it is and everyone who knows them is aware they’ll defend it to the last, because they’re what’s known as conviction politicians. Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl, amongst a few others in the last century, would fall into that category. I can think of only two or three such people in modern politics, only one of whom is currently leading their party but conceivably the others might one day do the same.
At the other extreme, there are a few who don’t have any idea of where that line is, nor do they see that as a problem. They actually don’t have any line. Frankly, they’re in politics for nothing more than to accumulate power and most especially money, and to hell with those plebs who were stupid enough to vote for them.
They pad their expense claims. They take under the table cash payments from shadowy lobby groups to actively promote a particular cause. They arrange their slice of the take in companies they’re shilling for by appointing spouses or close family as board members or holders in name only of equity instruments and very much in the money stock options. If is all gets a bit too hot for them to operate any more or they decide they’ve had enough of politics, they’ll retire as non-executive directors onto the boards of their client companies.
It’s just outright theft and they’re nothing better than common thieves.
Unlike most thieves, they’re usually invulnerable to prosecution, because although their own party and the opposition have a pretty good idea of what they’re up to, blowing the whistle on them to outsiders is seen as being disloyal to your party by causing it reputational damage. The opposition know they’ve got similar thieves in their own ranks, so they are in no position to start throwing stones.
Nobody wants that kind of tit for tat war, because everyone would inevitably be a loser. Given such political protection, anyone going after them needs a high level of proof, which is never an easy thing to assemble, since everyone involved in the particular scam is not only powerful but also has good reason to keep their mouth shut.
Historically, what kept some sort of control over the excesses of such people was independent journalism, more specifically the investigative branch of it, but in any practical sense, that mechanism is no longer in place. The relationship between the latter-day barons of the sprawling media conglomerates and politicians is altogether too cosy. The untrammelled power of those barons nowadays would put William Randolph Hearst to shame
It doesn’t help the situation that around the world, the majority of most news organisation’s output has a distinct left-wing spin, which means half the politicians in the world have a guaranteed get out of jail free card with the denizens of the mainstream media. God help any right winger caught with his hand in the till or down the knickers of the wrong kiss and tell type.
The only time such thieves are brought to book is when they’ve become so arrogant at getting away with nearly anything, they go too far, even for the sickeningly compliant bend over and take it like a man harlots of the journalistic establishment. Putting in a parliamentary expense claim for having had the moat around your castle dredged is a prime example of such shameless piggery. Mainstream journalists might be obliged to suck by the powers that be, but just once in a while, even some of them refuse to swallow.
Increasingly, investigative journalists who want to break such stories, have to strike out into the veldt and establish an independent platform for themselves in the blogosphere, which is why in some countries such as Australia, what I call Finkelstein legislation is being proposed to regulate it. It’s basically an attempt at indirect control by a government through a pseudo regulatory body, whose membership they totally control, and after you strip away the tattered fig leaf, is government censorship in all but name. There’s not even a proposed right of appeal against its diktats.
It’s in such eminently reasonable ways, a free country, through indifference, allows itself to sleepwalk into a totalitarian state.
Any such measures are doomed to failure, since even if they were to be enacted and were even practicable, the blogosphere will simply retreat like an unaccountable guerrilla force into the Undernet, where absolutely no control on it could be exercised, never mind the self-control currently exercised by the more influential sections of it.
If that ever happens, free responsible journalistic comment would quickly be replaced by bald denouncement, anonymous accusation and unsubstantiated libel, and as all us grownups know, dirt like that has a habit of sticking. Winston Churchill said “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” In this electronic information age and given the raw speed of internet rumour mongering, the truth might as well hit the snooze button and stay in bed, especially if the lie being disseminated is widely perceived as being subject to suppression by a government appointed body.
If you sow it, you will reap it.
Between the above two extremes of the political spectrum, most politicians are reasonable honest people, but there are exceptions. I’m thinking here of people who for instance chair influential committees in government and at the same time stand to make or are already making hundreds of thousands, depending on which way their committee decides to steer policy.
They’ve declared their financial interest and yet, despite what is obviously a massive conflict of interest, seem quite content to continue on in that vein. Curiously, nobody else in the political establishment is voicing any concerns publically. I suppose it’s one of those things honourable men do in the name of party loyalty, but at some point, they’re becoming culpable. Integrity, unlike virginity, you tend to lose degree by slow degree. It can slip away from you unnoticed, but if you haven’t had the wit to realised that, you’re already lost
People in politically influential positions who personally stand to gain financially, dependent on the direction policy takes, is quite simply unacceptable. Either resign from the post or liquidate all such deeply compromising financial interests. I find such behaviour to be morally repulsive and it should be a bigger cause for concern by their political parties. In the most basic way, it brings politics into disrepute.
The same classifications of people occur around the world, with nothing more than the local name or phrase for it changing. I’m thinking here specifically of what American cops call a criminal’s criminal and British bobbies an ODC, which is an acronym for ordinary decent criminal. The criminals tend to use the same terms. It denotes someone who is a career criminal but doesn’t prey on the defenceless. To stay in those two respective vernaculars, they’re neither skels nor scumbags, who’re the bottom feeders of the criminal world.
Thieving rather than violence is their way of life. They do things like take down banks or businesses, rather than murderous house invasions for small change. They may be thieves and bad guys, but they do have some basic sense of decency, which means they refuse to share prison space with the likes of child murderers or kid molesters. Even in hell, there’s a pecking order, as John Milton observed.
I may not like the out-and-out thieves in government, but at worst I consider them to be just another type of ODC. At least the dirty money they’re getting their hands on is coming from business interests, who can well afford it.
It’s the ones actively involved in setting policy, and who are benefitting massively from it financially, that I reserve my complete contempt for. They’re actually somewhere beneath contempt, if such a thing is possible. In the UK, it’s estimated by various charities that there were between three to five thousand extra deaths from cold related causes last March. A goodly proportion of those deaths can be directly attributed to the poor and elderly, who can no longer afford to heat their homes, because of green taxes lumped onto their heating bills to subsidise the renewables gravy train.
For them, March was heat or eat, fuel or food decision time, with the inevitable tragic result. In brutal environmental conditions, it’s always the very young and the very old who die first, because they’ve got no reserves. Such money earned in such a fashion has blood all over it, and it’s the blood of our most vulnerable and defenceless citizens. The poor are being stripped of what little money they have, to make the already rich even richer, and the swine don’t give a damn about the misery and death caused by that.
Protected by both a yellow cloak of political protectiveness and a Teflon cloak of green righteousness, they’re above criticism but to my mind, those greedy pigs are no better than vicious muggers, beating an elderly pensioner to death in the street for her pennies.
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