Inerrant Rampancy

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20%?

…Hah! We skim 20% in our sleep.

President Obama was recently in Africa giving a motivational speech, and while there he said some things that are, to me, a bit angering. He was commenting on the obvious corruption that plagues African governments, and how such a thing is keeping Africa poor and hungry and oppressed, and I totally agree with that. No country can prosper if its citizens are held down by their own leaders, forced into contracts and regulations by the threat of punishment, and stolen from. But read what he said, and then tell me if you notice something odd.

“No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery.

“That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there,” he said, “and now is the time for that style of governance to end.”

Twenty percent off the top? Wow, even some of our lowest income brackets in the states pay that, no questions asked. Certainly our small businesses do. And if you make more money than average? You can pay more than a third back to the government, and if you don’t, you go to jail. Now, I know this isn’t the kind of brutality we see in Africa. There, you have roving bands of rebels forcing young children into murdering and torturing their own country-men, and an “elected” government causing just as much pain and suffering as the rebels.

But for Obama to get on his high horse and tell other countries that they need freedom from a sham of a democracy smacks of such hypocritical grandstanding that it makes me sick. Our government is one of the worst skimmers in the world, and we can’t even properly monitor where our money goes. Our officials are elected by a grossly ignorant and apathetic populace, a populace who is more motivated by absurd religious values than common sense, or are appointed by their friends and former business partners with little regard for anything other than political aspiration and money. Our laws are pushed into effect during times of reduced debate and control in congress (i.e. when one political party controls the senate, house, and president), and then are brutally enforced by men with guns and the right to use them in any way they choose, and who are constantly held to a different, and more lenient, standard of conduct than the people they are hired to “protect”.

Do we live in a war torn country like Africa? No. We can look at our various injustices and think, “Well, at least we aren’t starving in the sweltering heat every day.” It makes us feel blessed, sure, but it also makes us oblivious to the flaws in our own system. Obama’s speech to the people of Africa infuriates me because it is so blatantly hypocritical, and because it has inherent in it the idea that once you have a good life (or an easier life than most others) you must then be willing to give up what made it good in the first place. Oh, and you can’t complain about it either, simply because there are others who are worse off than you are.

Mr. President, I agree with you. I agree that no business wants to invest in a country where the government takes and then doesn’t return, where laws are passed without discussion or debate, by a fleeting and imbalanced supermajority made up entirely of one extreme viewpoint, and where such laws are enforced with the threat of punishment and censorship. I agree that such a government, a government where cronyism, nepotism, and back-scratching are the norm, and where so-called intelligent people make legitimate distinctions between big government and big business (ridiculously calling one better or worse than the other), is not democracy, even if you occasionally sprinkle an election in there.

And I agree that now is the time for that style of governance to end. I only hope you one day decide to stop leading it.

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July 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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