Monday, June 8, 2009

Government Corruption and the Species Exchange Rate

Current Reading: Marching As To War, by Pierre Berton (I believe I've been spelling his last name wrong for months. How rude.)

Inspirational Quote: "You will see, in mixed confusion, snatches of cutpurses, wiles of cheats, enterprises of rogues; also delicious repulsiveness, bitter sweets, foolish decisions, mistaken faith and crippled hopes, niggard charities, judges noble and serious for other men's affairs with little truth in their own; virile women, effeminate men and voices of craft and not of mercy so that he who believes most is most fooled--and everywhere the love of gold." -- Giovanni Gentile

While driving in this morning, I heard an article on the radio news. It seems that the Chief Executive Officer for Ontario's eHealth program has been forced to resign after it was publicly revealed that her department had allowed $2 million in untendered contracts and paid consultants fees so high that reading the numbers made my nose bleed. Details are here.
She's still, apparently, going to receive $317,000 in compensation.

What struck me about the article was the quote from the government indicating that the dismissal of the eHealth CEO would somehow restore faith in the government and its programs.

The absurdity of this is beyond description, so I won't even try.

Perhaps, if it were an isolated incident, it would be possible to have some faith in government integrity worthy of being restored. However, the Brian Mulroney/Karlheinz Schreiber affair has yet to be resolved despite more than a decade of investigation. The Mayor of Ottawa is under investigation for influence peddling. Ontario's Chief Coroner was recently found to have faked results on a number of investigations, resulting in a disturbing number of innocent people being convicted. And I believe the Mayor of Vaughn (I may be wrong here) is being called to account for taking Council to dinner to the tune of over $1000.

A quick look at the books for Nortel or GM Canada are full of enough excesses to make one sick. My company recently gave out bonuses to the remaining employees (including executives) a week before cutting one third of the local workforce. Our CEO has a combination salary and bonuses well in excess of five million dollars, even though we've been under bankruptcy protection for months. Yet the government tables no legislation to prevent such looting of company coffers, and indeed they are willing to cover GM's losses by using taxpayer money to buy up company debt.

Sigh. Signore Gentile, above, was commenting on the text of a play written by Giordano Bruno, a Renaissance Italian scientist and philosopher. Bruno wrote the play as a scathing indictment of the Roman Catholic church. For his criticisms, and his insistence on the heliocentric model of the solar system, he was burned at the stake in 1600. Giovanni Gentile himself was an early twentieth century philosopher who proposed Fascism, and ghost wrote the Doctrine of Fascism for Benito Mussolini. We all know how well that worked out.

All of which indicates that a lack of faith in government has been with us, justifiably, forever. The "me first" attitude is contrary to the mores of our society, but is common among those who rise to peaks of what that society recognizes as success. How am I supposed to teach my children generosity, empathy and frugality when they are surrounded by examples showing those traits to be only for the downtrodden? Yes, "me first" thinking is leading us to a ghastly environmental extinction, but it is the rich and exploitative who will be the last to die out because they can continue to buy comfort until there's no one left to supply it to them.

Personally, I'm heartily sick of us and am looking forward to the fall of Western Civilization. Or I would be if I thought any other Civilization stood a chance of being better. Of course I suspect that the corrupt will find some way of making the innocent stand in for them when they're called to the wall during the revolution. Thus it was, thus it shall always be.

Clearly, although homo modernis has the intellect of a god, it has the wisdom of a coconut. I think I'd be willing to trade in the entire species for a reusable bag of chocolate covered almonds and a bio-degradable bottle of strawberry-orange juice.

Any takers?

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