Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The silver lining.........

Well, it only took 3 and a half months to get to a result that was inevitable since last February. The Democrats will blame the Republicans, the Republicans will blame the Democrats-each side will have speeches using the right type of back drop. ( Bush ordered his favorite props to stand tall again on Tuesday.....). The numbers don't support anything but a passage of the supplemental appropriation bill so maybe in another 2 months, both sides will quietly do that.

Most Americans think that is disgusting. Some people brand the opposition as traitorous. And pat themselves on the back with great self satisfaction, ignoring their own foibles and blindness, even those who don't go that far in the name calling race find the process frustrating.

In other words democracy is working almost as the Founding Fathers intended it to.(The Founding Fathers had the Senate picked by elites to save the people from themselves-that little safeguard was dispensed with in 1912).

There is an alternative. Its not a good one, but it could happen if people are not careful. I submit that the fracas over the spending bill is a sign of health in the Republic of the United States of America.

In an ally of the United States, if faced with a similar issue, the spending bill would have been passed a long time ago. There would have been no real debate within the legislature about it, the body simply showing up when directed and passing the bill with a large rubber stamp. Had anyone had the temerity to do so, he would have been sued in civil court and probably bankrupted-members of his or her family would have been persecuted and at least one would have seen the inside of Changi prison for a while. The father of the current political leader would still be exerting a large measure of influence on the government-his position re-named every few years or so. (morphing from Senior Minister, to Minister Mentor-either way still calling most of the major shots).

One demographic group would hold most of the major positions within the government. Despite talk of equality for all, the laws would be subtly enforced to ensure this group remains the top dog. Immigration of foreign talent would be tolerated, but only just so. Certain foreign groups would be allowed to work within the country, but only in certain jobs and segregated to designated areas. The senior leader would be able to castigate the "fairer sex" for not having enough babies and resorting to a crude form of eugenics to ensure they do. A senior leader can make the following statement and there is no outrage-either from within or from its allies:

The Bell curve is a fact of life. The blacks on average score 85 per cent on IQ and it is accurate, nothing to do with culture. The whites score on average 100. Asians score more... the Bell curve authors put it at least 10 points higher. These are realities that, if you do not accept, will lead to frustration because you will be spending money on wrong assumptions and the results cannot follow." Lee Kwan Yew

The majority of the people would be expected to remain silent. If they were to take a voice, "the government outright threatens [them], by saying that they will not upgrade your flats if you vote away from them... ".

But, the streets are clean. Mass transportation works. Crime is low. Movies are censored, but at least they are available. Those who do have money are encouraged to spend it. In fact they are told they have a patriotic obligation to do so. The rich within the country are obscenely so while the lower 20% of the population graph feel their purchasing power shrink every year. Yet the same lawmakers are obligated to accept a 20% pay raise for themselves. No matter the economy is booming. Or is it?

Singapore as an "economic failure" whose "success came mostly from being the money-laundering center for corrupt Indonesian businessmen and government officials" was published by Bloomberg. The controversial correspondence also said "to sustain its economy, Singapore is building casinos to attract corruption money from China".

Either way, it is not the right of the people to know. The state manages quite well on the currency of fear:

Ordinary people do not fear the Internal Security Act as much as they fear that if they voice criticisms against the government they will be punished in ways that can directly affect their livelihoods. Shopkeepers and taxi-drivers worry their licences will be revoked, and businessmen whether big or small, have the same apprehension. Civil servants fear their independent views on public matters will deprive them of promotions or get them transfers to insignificant ministries or the ultimate punishment -loss of employment. The press fears. The police fears. The ISD (Internal Security Department) fears. The army fears. The PAP MPs fear. And the ministers fear...Everyone fears Lee." - T.S. Selvan, author and former ISD officer

That's the alternative. Balanced against that bleak vision, Harry Reid almost seems statesman like. At least he is free to give voice to bad statements. In the alternate universe the only thing that would be "lost", would be his freedom to see the sunshine.

So the next time Americans want to take pen to paper, or electron to pixel about how the opposition is undermining the troops-one would do well to remember that both sides are living the dream those very same troops took an oath to defend. And that's a good thing. Americans should be thankful for that. They could be living under a lot worse. While still calling it, "a democracy".

So much for that work visa! H/T to Phil for the idea!


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