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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Making Peaceful Revolution Impossible Makes Violent Revolution Inevitable.

Chester Bowles, the author and former U.S. congressman, once said, “Government is too big and too important to be left up to politicians”. Never have those words been truer than they are in Newfoundland and Labrador today.

The latest Auditor General’s report has proven once and for all that politicians, generally speaking, cannot be trusted. This is not to say there are no responsible political figures roaming the planet someplace, perhaps even our little slice of it, but they are certainly few and far between. What we are left with instead is a bunch of sticky fingered, self centered opportunists who would willingly sell their soul for one more perk and one more chance to “play the game”.

When the AG identified a handful of members who had collected 1.6 million dollars more than they were entitled to receive I shook my head and wrote it off as a few bad apples. When others were named for double billing I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought, “hell, mistakes happen”. But the latest AG report speaks to something completely different and far, far more sinister in the halls of the Confederation Building in St. John's. Something no amount of explanation or rationalization can ever address. I'm referring to a complete breakdown of the basic principles of the electoral process and a sick perversion of democracy right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The AG has identified that in 2004 every sitting MHA was quietly (intentionally quietly I might add) granted an additional allowance of $ 2,800 because most had used up their existing constituency allowances far earlier than expected. When you consider the fact that it has already been reported (and will be again) that these allowances were used for everything from fridge magnets to "donations" the reality becomes quite clear. Think about what that says for a minute.

If nearly every member inexplicably used up their allowances early and it is a reality that htey spend them essentially any way they please, it doesn’t take a big leap of logic to figure out where the money went. Elections are expensive to run. That’s why political parties have supporters and members who donate to them. The more popular a party or politician is the more donations they receive the better chance they have to win. It’s not rocket science. Apparently it’s also not the case in this province anymore. Not when a member who is up for re-election has a pot of tax dollars at their disposal.

That a sitting MHA would even consider using a tax payer funded allowance intended to support his or her constituency office, cover transportation costs, etc. to help finance an election campaign is a sure sign that democracy in the province is truly dead and the rotting stench of it can be recognized across the province.

One of the basic concepts of democracy is that the public chooses the makeup of the government without being coerced or paid off. The electoral process is meant to give everyone an opportunity to put their name forward for office in an honest and fair election. The fact that our tax dollars could be used to illicitly finance election campaigns by sitting members and allow them to buy back their seat in government is sickening, repulsive and frightening in its connotations. I’ve heard that winning an election against an incumbent MHA is difficult and now I can fully understand why.

I started this article by quoting the author Chester Bowles but suddenly another author, H. L. Mencken, comes to mind. He summed it up quite succinctly when he said, "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."

To that I’ll simply add my own thoughts, "When a people can no longer trust their leaders and no longer depend on the very foundations of their democracy, can revolution be far behind?"


WJM said...

Making Peaceful Revolution Impossible Makes Violent Revolution Inevitable.

That's CSIS-bait if I've ever read it!

Pedestrian said...

[b]Making Peaceful Revolution Impossible Makes Violent Revolution Inevitable.[/b]

Dude..., just, Dude....

WJM said...

There was some lady on the open line today calling for people to swarm Confederation Building when the House of Assembly returns.

Maybe you're on to something.

It's 1932 all over again.

Anonymous said...

Clearly there is a culture of entitlement which crosses ALL party lines and it's high time that this entitlement was brought to a grinding halt!

This is an embarrassment for the citizens of Newfoundland & Labrador. Folks in the rest of Canada are likely wondering what the hell is wrong with us.

When the AG submits his complete report on this debacle, heads need to roll. Those who were knee deep in this should be turfed out whether they be public employees or polititcians, a clean sweep is in order. Also, the IEC needs some tweeking to ensure that decisions made are above board.

Artfull Dodger

Anonymous said...

CSIS bait or not, reality is reality. By the way, those words are actually a paraphrase of a quote from someone who wasn't exactly an anarchist.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" - John F. Kennedy (from a 1962 speach at the white house)

If the folks at CSIS are too dumb to recognize the origins of it they aren't worth worrying about.

(Patriot - I'm having trouble logging in this morning so I had to publish as an anon)

Artfull Dodger said...

The Premier just announced that those who recieved the additional allowance will be returning said funds.

Fed Up said...

Good to hear but that doesn't buy my support. Paid back or not, it's disgusting that MHAs would sell out the democratic system entirely (as a group) by using tax payer's dollars as an election slush fund.

Democracy in this province (and in Canada in general) is just a fraud perpetrated on the great unwashed masses.

Artfull Dodger said...

What is needed now are answers to some hard questions. Anything less than full disclosure will only allow the same thing to happen some time again in the future.

Tiffany said...

Was it was one of the provincial political plums dangled in the eyes of the MHAs by the Leaders of our Government to keep the little doggies in line? Make no wonder a province with so many resources is so poor off. Everything was done to keep the hierarchy in power and to give the higher-ups great latitude with our resources. Maybe there should be an enquiry on how our resources got delved out over the years that kept this province in an impoverished state. I am wondering how the delving out of those resources might have put money into the pockets of those who had all the power. Maybe they got contract for their own personal companies, or were there any kickbacks? I don’t know I just want answers.

Anonymous said...

It would seem the official opposition is the biggest failure in this latest scandal.

bagwatts said...

I hate to say it, but this corrupt political despot thing is not new. Ummm, it's been going on since we traded rocks for berries. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Remember the ancient Egytians and their Pharoahs, or how about the Ancient Romans or even the British Empire etc..well, at least they don't stone, guillotine, draw and quarter or stick us in the dungeon anymore. Naw, now they just destroy our spirits with that black hopeless coninuous money eating monster called democratic government. It was a great lie that worked for eons, a brilliant idea that had us giving them the power over us as opposed to the old messy way of them pillaging and taking it; but now what will the diabolical ruling classes discover to control the masses? I shudder to think, although that fear mongering about global warming and avian flu etc sounds familiar in it's effect on us.

Anonymous said...

Where's the acne scared cheerleader when you need him.

Anonymous said...

Absolute power or minority govt hasn't made a difference in the past. There is something systemically wrong with our political system and it is in the process of being changed. At least provincially.

WJM said...

There is something systemically wrong with our political system and it is in the process of being changed. At least provincially.

Do you honestly think it's being changed?

I don't.

bagwatts said...

If you had a time machine and could go back to say...the 1400's somewhere in Europe, you would hear people saying the same things about different people in charge. If you took that same time machine and went 200 years into the future, you will hear people saying the same things about different people again. Not one frigging thing is ever going to change. The flaw is not the system, it's the people. Greed. Money. Things. Power. Ego. My God, I wonder what would happen if Newfoundlanders staged a passive sit in a la Ghandi. Imagine 1000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians protesting. Not gonna happen. I'll believe it when I see it.

Brian said...

Wally and bagawatts are both correct; nothing is going to change while the majority has the best interests of themselves at heart.
On the Ghandie quote by bagawatts; Labrador has it’s version of Gandhi in the guise of Elizabeth Penashue of Sheshatshiu, and we can see hypocrisy from the status quo has towards that brave lad

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see everyone storm the bastille over there at confederation building. We need a major upheaval to wake those pigs up.

Anonymous said...

its just politics.

the Liberals DID IT, the PC's are DOING it, and the NDP would DO it (if they ever get the chance).

no surprises.
does anyone think its any different anywhere else?