…through the eye of a needle…

5 thoughts on “…through the eye of a needle…”

  1. Wow. Good ol’ Noam. My country (USA) claims to promote and encourage democracy, but I’ve long had my doubts about the truthfulness of that. Seems we support Power instead of Democracy. Power that deals ‘favorably’ with our corporate interests, people be dammed. Heartbreaking hypocrisy along with bald-face lying, methinks.

    1. I have long believed a similar idea… Massive corporations seem to hold more in the way of the balance of power in most so called democracies than, alas, the people of their sovereign nations… I will be writing something about this very topic soon…But Lane I don’t think the USA is solely to blame, believe me the Europeans (and their progeny, which include the ruling demographic in Australasia) have got a big part to play in all of this too…

  2. Why is it that people are surprised to hear that democratic governments are corrupt, when the system itself encourages self-interest? Think about it. As a member of parliament you are elected for a term of 3, 4 or whatever years; then you effectively have to reapply for your job. What are you going to do during that term of office? Whatever it takes to get re-elected, that’s what. In some countries, that means buying votes, rigging the elections, gaining control of the military, discrediting or even eliminating the opposition; and even in the most benign of democracies, it means making policy decisions that endear you to the largest number of voters; because democracy engenders self-interest there too. For the most part, voters want higher wages, lower taxes, more jobs, better education, better health care and better transport. In short, they want comfort, security and protection as a given; and as the world becomes increasingly globalised, they want all the luxuries the world has to offer on top of that. Any government that succeeds in delivering those conditions is likely to be re-elected, especially if the public face of government is charismatic, or can at least exude sufficient charm and sincerity. And as we have seen recently in Australia, the political persuasion of the major parties is largely irrelevant. This is no longer the world of the 1930s when Labor and Liberal actually represented ideological differences. Today, the electoral process is largely a popularity contest; because that too is what democracy is all about: representing the wishes of the majority. Democracy is a system of government where no one gets exactly what they want but the majority of people get what they deserve. So, if we think we deserve better, it is up to us, they enfranchised, to demand it.

    1. @Xpat An incredibly astute observation, but would it be that some folk do go into the political process with a belief that perhaps they are able to prioritise their own and their electorates needs in the proper order? I agree when you scan the agendas of most politicians world wide then for the most part all you ever see is naked self interest (maybe in the case of Silvio Berlusconi you get to see a bit more-er, hehehe, Bunga, Bunga!) But is it not only the fault of the so called ‘democratic process’ as an unwillingness of the electorate to spend any real time thinking, researching and making intelligent decisions as to who will lead them? I believe that we are all so self interested now that the democratic process is suffering for a lack of cohesive, decisive and cogent thought by its users… Xpat I am very lucky you are one of the commentators here, its great to deal with smart, sensitive and aware people…

      1. Lisa, thank you for your reply. Nnormally I try to avoid generalisation and over-simplification because contentious issues are generally contentious precisely because they are complex and multi-faceted. But as a commentator, I find that sometimes the drive for equanimity and objectivity leads instead to loss of clarity; and I find myself compelled to focus on a single point of view in the hope that it will provoke others to react; and in reacting formulate their own nuance of opinion.
        I have no doubt that there are individuals who enter politics with a sense of altruistic vocation; and I am sure that some of them manage to retain that vision throughout their political careers, despite the pressure to win and retain government that must be exerted on them, particularly in the case of those who belong to the major parties. But the point you make at the end of your response is exactly the one I was trying to make in my comment; that we cannot treat politicians like motor mechanics to whom we deliver our cars with the message: “It’s not running the way it should, you figure out what is wrong, you fix it, and don’t charge me an arm and a leg, or I’ll take it somewhere else next time.” My criticism is not of the democratic process, per se. I am merely concerned that many people simply take it for granted and fail to make the most of it. To earn the right to complain about government performance, we need to engage with our representatives more often than in the weeks leading up to an election. I’m not saying that the public needs to vote on every bill before parliament. That would be outrageously impractical. But we need to engage with them on the issues that concern us; and equally importantly, they need to engage with us. Even in the corporate world, employee performance is reviewed annually or even bi-annually. Politicians are employees of the people yet we allow them free reign to make decisions on our behalf over periods of four years. And on a personal note, I am sick and tired of the childish name-calling that is proffered by political leaders of all persuasions in lieu of policy and direction. I don’t care what Tony Abbot thinks of Julia Gillard or vice versa; I just want to know what each of them proposes to do to make Australia the best place it can possibly be.

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