Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turmoil Amid the Chaos: a corrupt world

The international headlines are horrific. The national headlines are just depressing. It's enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand. I can only thank God I haven't become gadgetized to a point where I understand the "twitterverse" or what "trending" means. If I was that superficial I may not actually care what was going on in Iraq or Ukraine or the conditions for Latin American children on our border.

Or maybe I'd care too much...

The world - the human world -  has always been messy. Most of us can't imagine what it must have been like to be a Jew or a Gypsy in 1930-40s Germany. Being herded into train cars to be carried off the a gas chamber and a mass grave had to be equally as abhorrent as the crimes the butchers of ISIS  are committing in Iraq today. Back then it took years before it was common knowledge, now it's damn near being broadcast live. Or how you say, tweeted live?

The horrors of  the 20th century's two world wars and the communist expansion throughout Asia and Europe are clear because we have pictures and actual participants still alive that can tells us about it. The rest of human history was just as brutal. There never really was the good 'ol days.

What makes it all so depressing is that our modern technological world has created a basis to end so much human suffering. Poverty has decreased massively in the last 30 years worldwide. As of 2008 that progress has stopped.  As well, we have the know how to be good stewards of the Earth, using, not abusing the riches the planet has to offer. The West has cleaned-up it's environment remarkably since the ecological awakening of the 1960's. The rest of the world no so much. Going further we have the ability to reach out from this tiny planet and explore the great expanse of the galaxy and even the universe. America is now handing over access to space to private business - for better of for worse.

Instead of seeing the progress our human abilities demand here in the year 2014 the world is unraveling before our eyes? Why is this happening? Why such turmoil, why such misery? Two words: Special Interests.

By special interests I don't necessary want to conjure images of corporate fat cats or greasy lobbyists - only. Special interests come in every stripe and color, motivated by greed, pride, gluttony, lust, envy, sloth and wrath. Hmmm, where have we seen these seven words strung together like that?

The least respected people in America are politicians and criminals, but then I risk being redundant with statements like that. We used to believe or at least we've read that like the priesthood going into politics to serve was a higher calling. Consider how that all turned out, one serves God and the other is celibate. OK, I joke, this would be true if "money" is God and buggering children didn't count as sexually active.

 My guess is that both politicians and priests enter their respective worlds with good intentions, wanting to serve, to make a difference, but quickly become corrupted by the system. To some degree this happens to all of us. It's human nature to self-serve, we are all individuals after all.

It's the capacity to harm that takes corruption, institutional or personal, to the next level. Cronyism and stacking the deck is the MO of politicians. To be sure there are always two sides to cronyism so don't think I'm singling out our beleaguered public servants. Big business can make political corruption look like a petty crime. Protected by their benefactors mega corporations plow ahead, in many cases destroying as much as they create, all perfectly on the up and up legally, of course. Since we don't vote for corporations - directly - we tend not to vent our anger at them as much. If you are supposed to rely on mass media to alert us to truth about corruption you are in for a long wait. Corruption to the media often comes with gigantic blinders.

Still this is America, we're the good guys, right? Because the so-called rule of law applies to most of us regular folk we tend to think we live in a less corrupt society than most. I'm not so sure.

The U.S. ranks 19th of 175 countries on the "corruption" scale. The Arab world, Latin America and Africa are way down there at the bottom - not surprising. This is seriously misleading when you consider that the American economy at 16 trillion dollars a year absolutely dwarfs everything else on the planet. The corruption scale is simply apples to oranges. Like I said it's the capacity to do harm and money magnifies this ability exponentially.

On the other end of the scale often the people with the least are looking hardest for every angle to game the system. This mentality of something for nothing starts at the top and washes all the way down to the poorest. The demotivating character of handouts and programs (all offered with the best of intentions) corrupts millions of Americans who then never even try for something better. It's beyond sad.

Corruption chokes the very progress we seek. Constantly gnawing away at the very heart of positive development. It undercuts everything that's been set up to promote the good. It leads to turmoil among the chaos as everyone rationalizes (or hides) their own corrupt behavior. Government corruption leads to higher taxes, robs average people of their wealth as it covers for corporate corruption who continue the thievery. The one/two punch of government regulation and corporate protection discourages investment in new enterprises, encourages the disenfranchised into dealings with the 'black market', thereby promoting conflict and destroying confidence in all institutions.

So much for the Captain Obvious portion of show. Solutions?

Defeat evil, simple...