Political Greed

At what point did politicians usurp integrity for the sake of power? At what point did the almighty dollar start to matter more than the human heart? And what will be the ultimate cost of this disgusting display of greed, rampant across North America today?

There is an old Russian fable about two peasants, which was recently, and aptly, quoted by economist, social commentator and nationally syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell. The only difference between these peasants was that Boris had a goat and Ivan didn’t. One day, Ivan came upon a strange-looking lamp and, when he rubbed it, a genie appeared. She told him that she could grant him just one wish, but it could be anything in the world.

Ivan said, “I want Boris’ goat to die.”

Sowell goes on to clarify that politicians today are channelling people’s hatred towards CEOs’ hefty paycheques, or Boris’s goat, in order to disguise the real problem: an economy driven by politics.

Even if CEOs were to be paid in pennies, it wouldn’t affect the price of oil. Sowell then points out the millions earned by Tiger Woods or Oprah–yet no one is accusing them of theft.

It’s easier to accuse those whom we don’t know; to hate that which we’re ignorant of, rather than face up to the fact that we’ve been duped. Acknowledging the truth–that the economy has plummeted on account of sheep gone astray–is to acknowledge that we, the public, are to blame.

Yet what would happen if, instead of resorting to hatred, we were to hold our heads up high, keep our hands on our wallets, and march determinedly past the green-faced political giants? In no time at all we’d see the value of our dollar rise and the economy, restored.

But will this happen? It will take more strength than has been required of America in a long time: strength to refrain from turning on the tube; strength to pick up a book and read, to gain knowledge, and then strength to walk out our door in the name of integrity.

Ultimately–it will require the strength to win back a crumbling nation from the grip of politicians, and to restore it to a land on its knees crying “In God Do We Trust.”

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3 Comments

  1. Annie said,

    December 8, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Em! I like your synopsis of the Thomas Sowell column here! The Ivan and Boris fable is pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it? I think Sowell’s driving point was not so much about the evils of corporate power, as about politicians trying to make people resent CEOs for their wealth, and therefore allow government to control companies instead. Politicians in favor of “big government” want to justify having more power to regulate company policies and practices, and they do this by getting people to believe that they are “just keeping things fair” – no Boris’s allowed. The problem is, that governments inevitably pressure companies to do things which are not smart in a free-market economy, to do things which are not financially sound, and then things get really shaky and unstable for the companies and come crashing down on everyone. The irony is that politicians immediately say – “oops, we need more government regulation and interference in private businesses – they can’t be allowed to succeed, or even fail, on their own.” Of course (as you pointed out) the average citizens really are the fools, if they get suckered into thinking they can be super-consumers, spending beyond their means, taking out loans they can’t afford (thanks to government interference on their behalf), and merrily padding the wallets of companies with unsound business practices (again, due to government meddling), and THEN, when the consequences finally catch up with the economy, they get suckered into believing that they should pay MORE taxes to the already top-heavy, proven-to-be-mistaken government, so they can (literally) bail them out. You are completely right – we should keep a hand on our wallets, and our heads out of the media’s madness! :o) But it is not wrong on principle to have businesses that profit honorably in a society, or for companies to have wealth which is rightfully gained by people sensibly spending their own money (within their means). Disaster comes when anyone (citizen, CEO or government) is tempted by short-term gain to spend more than they make. (AKA: greed) But I think it is clear that government is not a fit replacement for private company management, just because they make us believe that corporations have more “goats” than us.

  2. Allie said,

    December 8, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    thanks emily.
    I just watched a local production of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and can’t ignore the similarities between the children’s greed, bossy attitudes, self-infatuation, as well as the smidgen of hope through one boy’s honesty, and the general state of things in our land today… but I’m not surprised. we always were naturally selfish. thank you for encouraging us to move past our desires & trust that God will help us change!

  3. Keith said,

    December 14, 2008 at 6:14 am

    “At what point did politicians usurp integrity for the sake of power?…” Remember back when Israel wanted a King?

    I think modern politics are largely determined by corporations, not vice-versa. Sure there are political figureheads, but if they don’t have money behind them they don’t have nothing. Pardon the grammar.

    I also think the free market is doomed to failure especially when it is combined with Edward Bernay’s ‘public relations’ and the integration of Freud’s theories into marketing. i.e. manipulating people (and I the worst sucker) to think they need what they want and always emphasizing the minor, minor improvements and making people think that they need something entirely new just due to a perceived improvement (check out BBC’s ‘The Century of the Self’).

    The Buddhists are onto something with their thoughts on desire. it really is insatiable, and the ones who control desire control the world. the free market is built on the progressive accumulation of unfulfilled desire.

    Great closing to this post. I don’t think anything is ever going to be won back from politicians, though. We gave them the world to run, and can no longer go back to letting God rule until He takes the throne.

    Having “In God we trust” on the face of currency is probably the biggest hypocrisy of the West – and that’s no small feat.


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