King Canute in South America
Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be one.
Anti-Corruption needs promoting
The bulk of this post was written on Monday 16th may, just as I’m turning in for an early night, it would appear things are kicking off in Venezuela big style?
I won’t have chance to update this until Saturday 21st.
On 12th May there was an Anti-Corruption summit held in London, it hit the headlines nicely in the UK, because David Cameron the British Prime Minister, was recorded, informing the Queen that two representatives of the most corrupt Nations, would be arriving for this conference. His words inferred that both Presidents were equally corrupt, which was slightly unfair on Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, who has been in office just over a year and has been struggling to fight corruption, although he hasn’t actually sacked anyone for it?
Saying Afghanistan has a corrupt Government, is bad manners, in the way of, it is bad manners to state the blindingly obvious.
Corruption stems from the top, it is up to whoever is in charge, firstly not to be corrupt themselves, but also be willing to sack and allow to be prosecuted, anyone who is, corruption affects the wealth of a Nation if it is endemic.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is deeply corrupt, hence why, what should be one of the world’s richest countries, is dirt poor. It floats on a sea of oil, has, dependent on your source of information, either the largest or 2nd largest oil reserves in the world. This is onshore oil, not expensive to extract off shore drilling, although there is a large amount of that too. I have been reading its constitution, well that was until I started to lose the will to live, somewhere around article 130! There are 350 articles plus amendments, so quite a lot of Micro management, and a lot of self doubt.
Everyone is supposedly equal under this Socialist Constitution, except Native Venezuelans are given, Articles 119 to 126, all to themselves, quite why it is felt Article 21 (All persons are equal before the Law) and its 4 subsections don’t quite cover the Natives, one is left wondering.
In truth I am not left wondering, it is that the whole thing is based on a fantasy, in this case the Socialist fantasy that you can impose Laws, but not ensure they are kept, by ruling party members. This leads to corruption, the Venezuelan Constitution in articles 25 to 27 guarantees, access to the Law to prosecute anyone violating the Constitution, this clearly, is not happening.
Hugo Chavez supporters insist he wasn’t corrupt,
It goes straight back to Hugo Chavez, who was the president from 1999 to his death in March 2013, and who promoted corruption, by using State funds to keep himself and his corrupt Socialist cronies in power. Hugo Chavez supporters insist he wasn’t corrupt, and that it was those around him. Well if Chavez was so Anti-corruption, why was no one sacked from office?
In Raymond Chandler’s story ‘The Big Sleep’ gumshoe Philip Marlowe, confronts the baddie, Eddie Mars, I’m paraphrasing here: Marlowe “No, Eddie Mars doesn’t kill anyone, he gets other people to do it for him. Eddie Mars isn’t corrupt, he has other people, be the fall guys.” Hugo Chavez was as corrupt as any other Politician that misuses their power, and uses money to keep power, no King Canute, he.
Further down South America way in Argentina, Christina Fernadez de Kirchner, the Ex President has been indicted for Financial fraud, namely using the Central Bank to prop up the Peso, to keep her in Government. When you are that desperate, even the 30 days of oil reserves in the Falklands looks enticing. 30 days production for Saudi Arabia, is approximately the amount of oil estimated to be around the Falklands, about enough one would think to run a South American Presidential despot and their cronies around for a few years. Hence why she was spouting her crap about ownership of the Falklands, she was desperate. Socialist Argentina, even fell out with neighbouring Socialist Brazil, but then Argentina doesn’t seem to like anyone except perhaps, corrupt Venezuelans.
Brazil is also joining in the South American, anti-corruption fun, where the Senate voted for Dilma Rousseff to be impeached, again it is all down to corruption, oddly in this case, Rousseff is probably the least corrupt, and her downfall came when she tried having more than 360 other Senators etc impeached for corruption. All it shows is, that corruption is a way of life in South America, hence why it is so poor, and yet it should be so wealthy. The Brazilian Government is currently made up of an all white, all male Government, corrupt to the core.
This brings me back to the Danish King Canute, king of England, from 1016 through to his death in 1035. Basically England was part of the Danish Empire, and within England at this time was an area known as the Danelaw. The Danelaw was run by Canute’s bit on the side, Aelfgifu, this kept her away from Canute’s wife, Emma, who had been Aethelraed the Unready’s wife until deposed by Canute, when Canute married her. The main reason for this marriage, was to make his claim to the throne legitimate, in other words, it brought him inside the Law.
The story has Canute setting up his throne as the tide comes in,
Canute became deeply religious, and was famed for his wisdom, so much so that a story grew up, that Canute, was wise enough to know, he could only control his subjects, but not nature, like the tides or weather. The story has Canute setting up his throne as the tide comes in, and shooing back the waves, which of course kept advancing. “See the waves advance, I have no control over them, unlike my subjects.”
He was so anti-corruption, that while on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1027, he sent a letter, back to England, to be read aloud in all Towns and Villages. The summary of which is ~I have all the money and wealth I need, I have no need for more, further, I pay my Sherriffs and other Government Officials very well. If any of them, are trying to extract more money, than what is due to the Crown, and pocketing it for themselves, tell me and I shall see they are punished.”
Contemporary accounts are thin on the ground, but certainly after Canute’s reign ended, he was seen as a model of probity. When William the Conqueror in 1086 commissioned the Domesday book, so that he could maximise his Tax gathering. It was the Laws of Anglo Saxon King Eadward III (the Confessor) that were used as the base point, in fact the Confessor introduced no new Laws, they were the Laws of Canute, again seen as the bench mark of probity.
In England upholding the Law and probity of governance, didn’t stop with William the Conqueror, King John famously got his comeuppance with Magna Carta, which ran down the ages and influenced the US constitution. The reasons the rich nations are rich and poor nations are poor, are complex, however one of the biggest influences, indeed a root cause of poverty, is corruption. All through the beginning of the 18th Century, in England, the free press hound those who are corrupt, and there were plenty who were, not least Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister. A Parliamentary committee was set up to investigate the depth of the corruption. While this was never established, it did lead to Prime Ministers of the day, having the press investigating, the hacks of the day being effectively an anti-corruption squad.
a King Canute, willing to hang out to dry,
The leaders of nations can have all the anti-corruption summits they want, it is people in the various countries that are paramount, there needs to be a King Canute, willing to hang out to dry, anyone found being corrupt. This may just take the form of a free press, with a Judiciary that is independent of Government and Courts willing to allow prosecution, but everyone has to be inside the Law.
India’s economy is currently expanding at around 7%, in part due to a crackdown on corruption. The Indian people are fed up with corruption, especially among high ranking officials, but these are now being challenged and taken to court. At the top is President Modi, and by all accounts he is full square for the anti-corruption movement, certainly I haven’t come across any moves on his part, to stop or block any moves to prosecute offenders. This is as it should be, probity at the top a free press and allowing the Courts to dispense good justice, leads to a reduction in corruption. Turkey’s President Erdogan should take note, a free press means a free press, especially one that criticises a despot like him.
The South Americans and African nations, who wish to get themselves out of grinding poverty, need to learn these lessons. Indeed, China is going to have to face some awkward facts, about its so called Communist Government, namely get rid of the last remnants of this corrupt ideology. China has since the 1980s, relied on free enterprise, often wrongly labelled Capitalism, to bring itself out of poverty. To really throw off the chains of corruption, it needs to dump the Socialist or is that Fascist, or perhaps Communist claptrap, they are all the same nonsense.
Free enterprise works, but only where there is a free press, good government, to implement good laws, and allow fair competition, with as little interference as possible.
America from Mexico south and the whole of Africa, lack any of these, hence the corruption continues.