Although the American political class provides daily examples of craziness, greed, and incompetence, they have not cornered the market on such behavior. Recent news accounts prove that the afflictions of our political class exist elsewhere in the world:
– A November 1, 2010 Associated Press report reviewed the status of a government housing development in New Delhi, India. The original intent of the Adarsh Housing Society shelter effort was to provide affordable shelter to the wounded Indian war veterans, disabled veterans, and the widows of Indian soldiers killed in battle. Sounds like a wonderful concept.
However, according to the article, the effort turned into a huge scam with housing units being sold far below market price to top politicians, their relatives, and retired Indian military generals. Additionally, rather than a regular, six story apartment building, the original plans were never implemented and in their place, a 31 story luxury high rise was built despite violating zoning and environmental laws. The original apartments were budgeted to be sold for about $130,000 but once the political class got involved, the cost of the units in the luxury apartment building now go for about $1.8 million. The highest ranking local politician offered to resign when it was uncovered that his mother-in-law and other relatives had apartments in the luxury high rise.
Sound familiar? The politicians vote themselves the perks while the less fortunate of a society suffer.
– In England, an article in the Daily Mail that was summarized in the November 29, 2010 issue of The Week magazine, reviewed how the new Prime Minister of England, David Cameron, was getting along. Mr. Cameron has been on a government downsizing and expense reduction mission since taking office, reducing Britain’s military, government payroll, and other government agencies.
The problem is that he has not taken the same tact with regards to the government agencies and expenses that touch his life. According to the article, he has created a new staff of public relations experts solely dedicated to creating a brand campaign that expands and improves his image. He has created a new job title called “head of e-media” which pays a salary of $120,000 a year and whose duties are only to write about Cameron on blogs and Twitter. He has a personal photographer whose $56,000 a year job is to take positive pictures of Cameron at work and at play. He has a “special advisor” whose sole duty is to tend to the wardrobe needs of him and his family.
Sound familiar? Everyone needs to sacrifice for the good of the country… except for those that are running the country whose wages and the benefits of their jobs far exceed those of the citizens they should be humbly representing.
– According to an article in the London Observer, as summarized in the November 19, 2010 issue of The Week magazine, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi allegedly personally intervened in a police matter in order to get theft charges dropped against a 17 year old belly dancer. The belly dancer claims that the Prime Minister invited her to his personal villa for an “erotic ritual” which involved a cast of naked women. The Prime Minister’s response to the accusations: “It’s better to have a passion for beautiful girls than to be gay.” An offensive remark and certainly not a denial.
The article goes on to summarize past tawdry incidents in Berlusconi’s past. These include the promise of jobs for young women in exchange for “their attentions” and the gift of a pricey necklace he gave to an 18 year old woman (Berlusconi is 74 years old.) The article goes on to say that as a result of all of these distractions, the government work and cooperation that needs to take place between Berlusconi and Parliament has brought the Italian government to a virtual standstill.
Sound familiar? Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Jim MacGreevey, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Gary Hart, Gary Condit, Larry Craig… Government functions are always negatively affected by political class sexual exploits.
– According to a Washington Post article by David Ignatius that was summarized in the December 3, 2010 issue of The Week magazine, the Afghan government and NATO military leaders have been negotiating with a Taliban representative in an effort to find a middle ground for peace talks. Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour has been flown via British military helicopter from the countryside to the capital of Kabul a number of times to hold face-to-face negotiations with the Afghan president and has been given large sums of money for his trouble. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan hailed the talks and negotiations as a path to reconciliation and peace.
One problem with this effort. The Taliban negotiator is not Mansour but a total imposter who apparently has no connection to the Taliban whatsoever. Officials now believe that it was just a con game played on the upper echelons of the Afghan government and British and American military, perpetuated by an individual whose sole aim was to get some money for himself. Maybe that is why the Taliban constantly claimed that they were not in negotiations with the Afghan government, because they really weren’t.
Sound familiar? Didn’t a Virginia husband and wife gain deep entry to a formal White House dinner even though they were not invited and had absolutely no ties to the hosts, the Obamas, or any of the guests? Reminds me of an old Far Side cartoon where a bunch of bears are standing around a coffin when the bear in the coffin sits up and shouts: “I was hibernating, don’t you guys ever take a pulse?” Doesn’t the U.S. government ever take a pulse or check an id?
– Another article in the December 3, 2010 issue of The Week magazine reviewed how the Mexican government is urging any Mexicans, who are living in the United States and who are returning to Mexico for the Christmas holidays, to travel in convoys when they return. This is a safety suggestion since many returning Mexicans are known to be carrying money and gifts and could be targets of the drug cartels, robbers, and kidnappers. The government has actually set up a convoy coordination agency and suggests that all holiday traveling be done in daylight.
Sound familiar? Fortunately, this situation has not yet happened in the United States. But unless we come up with a strategy that effectively addresses the drug problem in this country, who knows when and how deeply the Mexican drug cartel-induced lawlessness will cross the border and prompt similar warnings in this country?
See, we are not the only country who has to deal with corrupt, pompous, sexually active, and incompetent politicians. Makes you wonder what type of people are drawn to the world of politics, regardless of where they live. The sad part is we are subjected to their craziness, greed, and incompetence without ever getting a major problem solved that would affect a large segment of the population.
That is why term limits is a good idea for this country as well as the rest of the world. Better to get a hard working, dedicated politician for a short amount of time in office than be saddled with a long term politician that gets nothing done except find more and more ways to enrich himself and slow down the functions of government.
And while we are at it, after we implement term limits, we need to implement processes to address the drug problem in the United States and implement a process to address the illegal immigration problem in the country, two steps that are needed to prevent the Mexican convoy problem from becoming a United States convoy problem. That is one act of craziness we do not need in this country.