Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wolves in the Keep

Like two castles the federal Conservatives and the provincial PC's of Newfoundland and Labrador dominated their kingdoms. Their walls were impenetrable. Their moats were deep. From this place of strength they exercised their power at will, and avoided all the nattering of pesky peasants outside their high walls. Their word was law. That was then. This is now.

Like a Shakespearean tragedy the rot within has broken the massive stone walls, and the all too human truth of absolute power corrupting absolutely is open for all to see. Both governments have been guilty of abusing their power in a way not seen before. They have ignored or forgotten the rule that power is to be used, and "if you abuse it you lose it". It's an old saying. It's an old yardstick if you will to restrain the dark side of human nature and ensure an order of proper balance in the exercise of power. When that balance is lost the great unseen hand has a way of restoring it, and often it is not a pretty sight.

Both parties have lost sight of the nature of power. The ability to govern, the moral high ground if you will, is rooted in the ancient notion of the "social contract". The social contract being an informal agreement between the very earliest humans that they would agree to surrender some of their rights to the group in order that they might survive. So in the beginning one or more cavemen would agree to hunt together, to share, to follow a leader, and to protect each other. From there it grew to villages, cities, provinces, countries, ultra national organizations, and eventually some say world government. The contract itself was in the beginning, and has never changed, an agreement between man and the state on how he agrees to be governed. In modern times it has become a written contract commonly referred to as a Constitution.

Remember, the social contract was between a man and the group he agreed to submit certain rights to - his government in the modern context. Herein lies the poison in the wine if you will: corporations were never a part of the social contract. People never agreed to submit any rights to corporations. Corporations, therefore, never had any right to exercise power in the affairs and lives of people. However, and we have seen it all over the world, corporations have decided to take that power by controlling the process that establishes who shall govern. In a sense, they have added themselves to the social contract. This very simple concept has led to where the world is today, and locally to where our nation and province are today.

On the provincial level we have been subjected to such acts as Bill 29 which violate the ancient right of disclosure - the right to be informed. We have witnessed our government  lay off almost a thousand people to save $30 million while giving $90 million to Kruger - in the same budget no less. We have witnessed former premier Danny Williams negotiate offshore royalty deals with oil corporations that included impacts and benefits agreements that personally benefited his offshore companies. We have seen the same ex premier grant massive contracts to SNC Lavalin and then sell his offshore companies to them. Of course he wasn't the only one. Joey Smallwood took a $100,000 loan from the bank of Montreal to buy shares in Brinco which he had hoped would make him rich when the Upper Churchill deal went through. And on it goes. The rights enshrined in the social contract, to be protected and secure for the benefit of all, greedily thrown to the curb.

On the federal level things are no different. The Conservatives have thrown all responsibilities of governing out in the march for control. Rather than debate each bill in Parliament, and defend each bill, they have created omnibus bills which essentially lump many bills into one. There is no scrutiny by the people's representatives allowed. And what are those bills? Most are corporate in nature. The bill to remove federal protection of almost all Canada's water is a big one. Bills to streamline, read water down, environmental laws that restrain corporations from exercising unimpeded activity. Essentially laws that were put in place to protect the land for the benefit of the people. So corporately controlled has their agenda become, so far have they strayed from the social contract, that they have alienated themselves from the people.

This week we did not witness Senator Duffy fall from grace. Or Senator Wallin. Or Nigel Wright. Etc. What we really witnessed was the exposure of corporate power and all its ugliness. Senator Duffy, appointed by Harper, was not conducting himself any differently than any other Senator in the game. They are named to the Senate to be professional back room types if you will. When Duffy was warned by Senator Tkachuck that he was about to be exposed for using the people's funds for improperly subsidizing his way of life, a deal was reached with Harper's Chief of Staff Nigel Wright to pay off the $90,000 before the report was released. The plan was to nullify the issue before it was publicly exposed, and thereby protect Duffy from serious damage. Duffy after all was a chief fund raiser and promoter for the Conservatives. The plan failed when the "loan" was exposed and Wright became fully exposed. The dangerous part of this equation was Wright.

To understand who Wright is you can check out this Globe and Mail story  Essentially, Wright is a corporate guy, loaned from Onex corporation for two years (which were up six months ago) to run the Prime Minister's Office - in reality the Government of Canada. He is responsible for many of the actions of this government and it's decidedly corporate flavour. He is not a man of the people. He does not embody any of the principles and rights of the social contract. He is a man of the order, the corporate order that is. Like so many things, and like so many countries, he is there to establish their interests - whether they are those of the people or not. Since Wright became exposed, and the pressure from the people mounted, Senator Duffy was quickly thrown from the party. Then Senator Wallin quickly followed. Naked power, corporate power that is, was exposed. The ability to, in a premeditated stroke, cover up the transgressions of the privileged. The ones we agreed to give up certain rights to for their promise to look after and protect the rest of us. In one brief moment we saw it all. Now Harper is trying to save Wright. Just like he tried to save Penashue in the other recent, premeditated attempt to cover up corporate donations.

It is an ugly truth in all. The order of civilization is broken - terminally broken. Those with the great trust have failed their great responsibilities. It is evident throughout the world we live in today. From civil wars, to oil wars we see it everywhere around us. And while those wars were benefiting us we chose to go along with those social contract rights being violated. Now, with our world monetary system in near failure, with our personal and governmental debts reaching the maximum sustainable, we gaze into an uncertain future. We look toward the corporations for accountability. We look to the governments for solutions. In reality, they have become one and the same. Our earliest ancestors gathered together for protection from the wolves. Now the wolves are the ones we turn to for protection. Therein lies the not so good news.

Dedicated to my friend Jason.

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