Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons

I chose the above quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to entitle this week’s blog about dishonest leaders of many differing types.
I often wonder why we have governments. For all the good they do, we might as well all just join a gang, because you can say what you like about gangs, but at the end of the day they usually look after their own. Politicians look after their own as well – but it’s their own personal and extremely vested interests.
So after they’ve robbed us all blind, how much money do these sleazy swines have? Muammur Gaddaffi the self proclaimed non-leader of Libya certainly has plenty and he is far from the only political leader to have enriched himself at his nation’s expense. Time was when I used to think these greedy bastards stole millions from their treasuries, but now I know better.
They don’t steal millions; only small fry from rogue Pacific Island states do that. These guys steal BILLIONS. Yes Billions with a B.
In the case of Gaddaffi and his cronies, at the time of writing the count is not complete, but so far the US has frozen US$32B (more than NZ$42.6B) and Britain has frozen US$19B (NZ$25.3B). By my count that amounts to US$51B which I learn is equivalent to approximately 47 percent of that Libya’s central bank reserves or if you like 82 percent of its GDP!
Now I know old Mu doesn’t personally own all of this but he and his entourage have no doubt been deriving their lavish lifestyles and buying ‘hits’ on their enemies from this bounty. The scary part is, that is only what has been found so far and it is only the proceeds from ONE corrupt regime. Imagine how much loot has actually been stashed away by dictators?
And that’s just a glimpse into the billions being ‘acquired’ by the obvious bad lots. As we know only too well, even leaders in so-called developed/enlightened/civilized (you pick your word of choice) countries help themselves to their nation’s lolly.
Yep crime is rife in high places all over the world and sadly most of the time we are led by crooks. But it’s not restricted to the politicians; leaders of industry and many senior government workers are just as bad.
The endless procession of failed finance companies led by people who hardly seem to be on the bones of their considerable bums when their companies ‘collapse’ is just one example.
But issues such as the nuclear bunfight in Japan at the moment are even nastier because they cause direct physical harm in addition to the emotional anguish. It is now revealed that Japan undertook a safety audit of their nuclear plants in 2008/9 following the fright they got when the Kobe earthquake struck in 1995. The first thing I find interesting about that is that it took them 13 years to get their fingers out.
But I digress. The committee that met to decide how to make the plants safer dismissed the need to take a tsunami into account where the Daiichi plant was concerned. In fact little account was taken of the dangers posed by tsunamis generally because they only had two tsunami experts in a group of 40 ‘experts’ who were assessing the risks. One member of the group has since broken ranks and supplied transcripts of the meetings in which he raised the tsunami danger and reminded them of the 8.9 earthquake that had struck the area in AD869.  Power plant officials dismissed his concerns saying that earthquake was ‘historic’ and implying it was of no relevance. The consequence was that no additional tsunami precautions were taken at the plant and of course as history now records; it was the tsunami and not the earthquake that damaged the plant.
So will any of these people be charged with the death of any of the citizens that perish from radiation poisoning? Get real. They still haven’t made anybody properly accountable for Bhopal unless you count the pathetic 2-year sentences and piddling fines handed out to seven officials last year. These people have escaped any penalty for nearly 30 years and they were responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 and still counting. Some of the scumbags even pulled the old Radovan Karadzic trick of pleading extreme frailty and old age as an excuse to not have to face trial. Of course they were old, because the bullock cart wheels of Indian justice had taken so long to turn.
The there were those who chose to ignore warnings about the land upon which Christchurch is perched. A TV3 documentary made and screened in 1996 warned the city was sitting on “a soft, shaky sponge of river stones and silt half a kilometre deep. In any decent quake, Christchurch will shake like a leaf.” It also pointed out the hundreds of old buildings in Christchurch that had not been strengthened.
But those responsible for building standards ignored the warning, preferring instead to play the numbers game where they keep their money in their pockets and bank on nothing going wrong. As I write, the Wellington City leaders are contemplating a similar three wise monkeys approach in our nation’s capital.
To know of a serious risk and fail to act to mitigate it in any meaningful way is criminally irresponsible and reckless behaviour which should be punished. ACC soon jumps on employers who ignore hazards in the workplace. I wonder if we could complain to them after the event.
But what do these last two have to do with theft? Well in my opinion they are stealing other people’s futures for the sake of growing their own stockpile of money? Personally I’d prefer they just nicked our stuff and be done with it.

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