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Public Accountability

There is an adage relevant to today's world events: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Some economists claim the American economy will continue on a slow road to recovery and the European Union will find a way through its current crisis. However if an economic recovery takes place with no real change in the world economies or governance then humanity remains doomed.
Reference the online articles by Michael Chossudovsky (or the book he was co-editor: The Global Economic Crisis), Mike Whitney, or Paul Craig Roberts (among others). The current world economy has changed from that of more than 30 years ago. Globalization means international banks and multinational corporations can threaten communities and countries by simply shifting resources to different countries.

The world’s economy is confronted with a major Ponzi scheme, with for example (as of 12/31/2010) more than $25 trillion in credit default swaps. The major banks created a ton of fraudulent debt and now the world’s governments are being told to pay it off, rather then writing off the bad debts. Apparently when the first major crash occurred in 2008 under Bush 43, the government was given the ultimatum: either pay up or everything will crash. That lead to the 2008 TARP. When Obama took office, those getting important positions involving the economy had connections to the same Wall Street firms involved in the crash. As the problem debts have never been resolved, the problem continues to ripple. The people in Greece protested being told to become impoverished simply to pay off the bad debts to banks outside of Greece. I expect the same to be repeated elsewhere.
In the USA, especially after the 2011 Supreme Court ruling on the Citizens United vs FEC, our elected representatives can now freely market themselves to the highest bidder, and so they will do whatever the donating companies or special interests request based on their paying for their campaigns. An election in the narrow 2-party system in America offers no real choice given each candidate must have prior approval of those financing their campaigns.
Capitalism is a top-down economic system, where the benefits accrue to the owner and/or the bank, while the employees gain only whatever is allowed. Previous generations have used public demonstrations to get attention for their cause and have suffered, even with death (like the infamous Ludlow massacre), in an attempt to achieve a more equitable wage distribution, and for better working conditions (like the 8-hour day, 40-hour week) and benefits (like health insurance), or to get basic civil rights (such as in the peaceful demonstrations with Martin Luther King Jr.).

Public demonstrations no longer work, especially when companies can freely move jobs to another state or country. They also don’t work for political influence. Peaceful demonstrations as part of the civil rights movement in the 60's eventually brought political change. Now attempts to peacefully demonstrate like at 1999 WTO conference are put down with violence by government officers, or in the case of 2008 Republican national convention potential protesters are arrested before even being at a protest and journalists are arrested when trying to report on the protests. Violence that occurs at such protests is often connected to informants or government agents rather than the protesters. Even at a state level, in 2011 Governor Walker in Wisconsin considered staging violence to discredit the protesters attempting to stop his effort to break the state’s teachers union. Millions of people around the world publicly demonstrated in early 2003 in an attempt to prevent the invasion of Iraq by American soldiers- but to no avail.

Chimpanzees are a social creature like humans and are one of our closest genetic relatives. The alpha male rules the community through aggression, sometimes violence, and intimidation to achieve submission. However if he goes too far the entire community can stage a ruckus, either forcing a change in that behavior or a new alpha male will take over. There is a commonly heard phrase: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That apparently also applies even to chimpanzees.

Every social organization needs a final check to prevent unaccountable behavior. In every economic and political entity, there must be a way to hold leaders accountable for their inappropriate behaviors. In chimpanzees and for people in previous generations public demonstrations have been the final check. This approach no longer works for people to affect government leaders or even multinational banks and corporations.
Unless the economic recovery is accompanied by changes that define enforceable accountability for government and economic leaders, then the absolute power they possess will only lead to further strife for mankind.
Late in World War 2, America dropped napalm on Royan in southwest France just before the surrender of Germany. In August 1045, America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, followed up by more fire bombing, even though Japan had already agreed to surrender. Military scientists develop new weapons and the military leaders are more than willing to show off how they can destroy their enemies. American special forces now operate in 120 countries, and the new American policy is apparently these forces can murder anyone who may have previously or might someday harm the USA, without any need for proof of a crime or even a trial to confirm the accusation.
Unless mankind finds a way to counter absolute power, more death and destruction is likely. America continues to send drones into the Middle East bringing terror to the citizens in several countries, without any meaningful notoriety from the world's governments.

Comments in the web about the recent Norway massacre have mentioned it is normal for people to be suspicious of strangers, the problem of multiculturalism. However, probably every major political and religious leader knows that in the case of a systemic problem blame the outsider. For example, in times of economic decline due to the multinational corporations moving jobs elsewhere, the main problem resides in that political system but it is much easier to blame immigrants rather than confronting the real problem. American religious leaders, eager to get a seat near political power like the Perry prayer rally, will also emphasize a clash of civilizations as if Islam is a dangerous threat in the predominantly Christian United States (less than 3% of the population).
Demonizing others, by making them not as ‘human’ suggesting they are also not worthy of empathy, enables all sorts of behaviors, including intolerance in the best of cases, or violence in the worst (like military atrocities by American soldiers in Vietnam or in Iraq, or by the KKK in the American South).
The ‘root cause’ of many of the world's problems is the system itself, where those making the decisions are never accountable. America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq (accompanied by renditions and torture), then bombed Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and yet there are no consequences for such death, destruction, and misery. Wall Street and large international banks (mostly American) have siphoned much wealth from the American populace, and even from other countries (like Greece), through the use of misleading investments and untraceable financial instruments.

If public demonstrations cannot hold our political leaders accountable, I do not know what other non-violent options are available to the citizens to effect changes.
created - October 2011
last change - 10/29/2011
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