“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root…” Henry David Thoreau.
I remember the heady days when the BLP under Owen Arthur first took power. After the pillaging of the treasury and unfair nepotism that went on under the DLP government we thought that the fresh BLP faces would right the wrongs and be truly concerned about the ordinary Bajans – rather than lining their own pockets. The BLP were “good, basically honest people”, we said.
But we had it wrong, because the BLP members were not “good, basically honest people.” They were just like us and folks everywhere. They were only people.
For a time, it seemed that our hopes had been answered. And, if we looked a little too closely and saw some new nepotism or a little bit of skimming going on we rationalized it, saying that a little of that behaviour was to be expected. The public attitude was “What can you do? They are basically good people. As long as they don’t go over the top.”
But as we soon realised, when there are no effective rules against profiting from public office, when there is no freedom of information act to allow the public and the opposition to hold the government accountable – the rot of corruption spreads like lice at a kindergarten. One head and soon it is everywhere.
Without Rules & Standards, Could You Withstand Such Temptation?
Without defined standards of conduct, oversight and potential punishment for corruption, no person is honest enough to hold the keys to the public treasury. With no effective rules, who among us would not be tempted sooner or later? You? Me? David Thompson?
The public disgust with the wholesale theft and corruption that happened under the BLP government is why David Thompson and the DLP promised to implement effective anti-corruption measures and why voters gave them a big majority.
The first promised anti-corruption measure was to be a Ministerial Code that was to be adopted immediately – as opposed to a 100 day time frame for some other integrity initiatives.
But the new David Thompson government reneged on that promise. And now, DLP supporters are saying “Prime Minister Thompson and his government are good, basically honest people. Give them more time. Don’t be too hard on them.”
See how easily Prime Minister Thompson puts aside his promise to adopt a Ministerial Code from the first day in office!
How quickly many of the DLP supporters are forgetting why the BLP became corrupt piggies.
I saw this in The Village Voice this morning (It appears that you can take the man out of New York City, but you can’t etc… )
Anyway, the article is right on point about the debate between those DLP fools on this island who say that rules are not that important and those of us who have a bad bad feeling about David Thompson’s decision to break that first all-important promise of immediately establishing a Ministerial Code.
From The Village Voice…
For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.
To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.
The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.
… from The Village Voice David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer A Brain-Dead Liberal