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A Culture Of Greed And Corruption

By Joseph M. Cachia

28 January, 2008

"Corporations have been enthroned .... An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people... until wealth is aggregated in a few hands ... and the Republic is destroyed."

Abraham Lincoln

We are today so ensnared in the process of selling and buying things in the market place, that we cannot imagine human life being otherwise.

Because, consumption and consumerism dominate social discourse and political agendas of all parties, consumerism hogs the limelight at centre stage as the prime objective.

The stability of life is an illusion. No matter how rich you are, you can always imagine being infinitely richer. The greater your imagination exceeds your station, the more corrupt you are likely to get. While it is true that we can all admire power and money, we must also ensure to remain prone to admire ideals.

In spite of the insistence of the General Retailers and Traders Union (G.R.T.U.) that a part of the expenses for imported products is being absorbed by them (importers) and the price increases are thus being eased, it cannot be denied that various abuses in price increases are continually being reported. Furthermore, the strong objection by the GRTU on the implementation of the ‘name and shame’ policy sounds a very discordant note in the honest relationship that they expect us to hold in their regard. Consumers are cutting their spending and retailers are starting to get hurt. It could be that they had tried to absorb these costs but at this point they had to pass them on. Personally, I don’t mind anyone ‘making a fair’ living. I strongly object to anyone ‘making a killing’ by exploiting everyone who isn’t them.

Another damaging crime is the ever-growing guild of shameless grifters in all walks and sectors of our society, taking advantage of government incompetence or outright diffidence. When greed masquerades as need through fraudulent pretences and means. we should not let our moral impulses betray us.

The Nationalist government is constantly boasting that the economic pie is getting bigger -- how can it be true that most of us are getting smaller pieces? The answer, of course, is that a few people are getting much, much bigger slices! Although wages have stagnated, corporate profits have doubled. The living standards of workers have continued to decline contrary to classical economic theory. This is largely due to political intervention based on corrupt relations between corporate capital and the state. Are today’s corporations the modern-day version of the ‘mafia’? It seems that shame has vanished from our ‘civilization’! How can it be that nobody can be held accountable? It seems that nobody is responsible for anything anymore!

Soon we will be in the throes of an election fever. And it looks that here crime does pay --- when it comes to breaking campaign finance laws. The political finance issue is huge and the mountain of money has turned into an ever-growing snowball. Will fines and penalties envisaged by law really serve as deterrents to such abuses or will they do little to hold back political operators? Any punishments, if afforded, will come long after the offending activity transpired and can be considered simply as an inconvenience. In my understanding, the word ‘criminal’ incorporates also anyone who uses ‘political means’ for the acquisition of riches or power. The aggressor has no right to claim anything that he has acquired through aggression.

Has institutional dishonesty become the norm? As producer and director Anthony Wall declared, ‘The behaviour of society as a whole and its institutions in particular, tend to reflect prevailing attitudes within its government.’ In today’s life, even market forces are frequently secondary to political factors, namely multiple forms of corruption in securing economic advantage. Political corruption cannot take place without the knowledge of the state administrators. It transfers wealth from national-public use into private or corporate gain. It reduces the legitimacy and trust of the government in the eyes of its people, while it also widens and deepens internal class inequalities and undermines ‘good’ governance. Finally, it creates a ‘culture’ of corruption that siphons public resources from social services and productive investment to personal wealth.

The war against greed trumps all wars as it lies at the root of it all. During the Xmas celebrations, the archbishop of Canterbury had warned that human greed is threatening the environmental balance of the Earth. For the purported ‘Christian’ nation that we boast to be, the passion of greed reduces religious doctrine to just many dusty rules. Did you hear any whisper of condemnation by the local church hierarchy regarding the prevailing ‘law of the jungle’? Neither did I!

Economic inequality is on the rise. The gap between the rich and the poor continued to grow. This is not only immoral but it also provides an atmosphere ripe for political corruption. Furthermore, this increasing subjugation of everyone, except those at the very top of the income ladder, is dangerous for any democracy.

I sincerely wish everyone to do well by doing good!!

“It is partly to avoid consciousness of greed that we prefer to associate with those who are at least as greedy as we ourselves. Those who consume much less are a reproach.” Charles Horton

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