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A new Banana Republic?

Imagine a country where the police can’t be trusted to enforce the law, politicians can’t be trusted to represent the best interests of society, and the press can’t be trusted to impartially and fully inform the public.

This isn’t the description of a third world Banana Republic, but unfortunately the worrying trend in the UK. The heroic efforts of a handful of journalists and MPs to uncover the truth behind the recent phone hacking scandal should not be allowed to rest there. The accusations of police bribery and corruption are paramount in this story as it reveals not just police failings or bad decision making, but potential complicity with the unpleasant activities of the media.

Unsavoury conduct in the police is likely to reveal that they were often the press’ source of personal details (such as names and contact details of victims and suspects) thus facilitating phone hacking in the first place (see notes from the Metropolitan Police Authority meeting in 2009 in link below).

The extent of bribery, corruption and coercion by some in the media could also explain why earlier police investigations seemingly found no major issues, and may even reveal how senior executives in the media organisations must have been aware of, or even sanctioned unscrupulous behaviour, through authorising payments.

I wonder if the amount of corruption identified so far is only small because of a lack of looking under enough rocks by truly independent investigators.

Potentially corrupt police officers cannot investigate allegations of their own corruption!

Perhaps we all need to support London Mayoral candidate and MPA member Jenny Jones in her request that we get a formal declaration from all officers involved in the MET Investigations (Operations Weeting & Elveden) that they have never and are not receiving any inappropriate payments or are under any undue pressure or influence from outside sources:

Jones quizzing MET commisioner

Without a trusted police force, it is frightening to think what is now possible. A non-elected corporation which has files on the private lives of politicians, the police, celebritries and members of the public. Information is acquired illegally either by phone hacking (which is akin to tapping is it not?) or by bribing the police. This intel is then used to apply undue influence on anyone who dares to stand up against the firm.

The media’s duty is to acquire (through legal and legitimate means) information to inform the public of illegal behaviour. Instead they have engaged in illegal conduct to acquire information on various peoples’ perfectly legal (if salacious) behaviours.

The police’s duty is to uncover and pursue illegal conduct. Instead they have monumentally failed to pursue this illegal conduct, and what is more, all but covered it up.

We have a history in this country of distrusting politicians, the press and powerful businessmen, but to begin to severely distrust the police is a very worrying consequence of this whole episode.

Categories: General

Beggar thyself

In the early days of satellite TV in the UK there was a battle going on between Sky and British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB). There probably wasn’t much room for two competitors in such a narrow market, so a great battle ensued in the late 1980s. With lower operating costs Sky was able to cut its prices hard to gain an upper edge. Both companies bled profits on a frightening scale. Ultimately BSB surrendered. Sky had bled itself hard, but the pain paid off. Thus began the emergence of the beggar thyself strategy.

Listening to the following Michael Hudson interview, one gets a clear sense of how the current international economic warfare is playing out in an eerily similar manner:

Michael Hudson on the Real News Network

He describes how the USA is prepared to squeeze US standards of living to protect the dollar and the US economy. A very clear example of beggar thyself. Those countries that can reduce the living standards of its citizens without provoking rebellion among the hoi polloi are the ones that will survive this 21st century economic warfare.

If the Kleptocracy is blatant, and living standards are low and declining then for sure revolt is likely (e.g. Egypt, Tunisia & Libya). Other Middle East countries may be able to protect themselves as much by reasonable standards of living (say an average income of over $10-12k) as they can through Autocratic regimes. Ireland is a case in point in that people are broadly aware of the Kleptocracy, but fortunately they still have a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, so the friction is moderated.

In the UK we still have (the illusion of) a comfortable lifestyle and very little awareness of the fraud. As in the US (and Japan beforehand), we are bending over the barrel and taking the economic shafting (Austerity & Inflation) without much of a whimper.

Perhaps by showing that we can bleed, and bleed heavily but not collapse, we can in fact hang on long enough to break our opponents. Unrest in China is probably more likely than than in the UK or the US, as the population may not yet have graduated in to the category of docile Kleptocracy tolerators.

In a bizarre and masochistic sort of way, this could indeed be our saviour.

But at what cost?

Categories: Economics, General

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It doesn’t always claim to be right about everything, but it should at least get you thinking, and (hopefully) responding.

Enjoy!

Categories: General