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Letters from Down under

Trust

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

In trust I have found treason – Elizabeth 1, 1586

(5/2017) Still reeling in this new unpredictable world of Trump, I got to wondering why it had occurred. What was the impetus that generated that majority, that allowed the most unpredictable candidate of all time win? Who, as commander in chief, has shown total disregard of congress by making unilateral decisions, ones that have unknown consequences, that have put peace at risk, and raised tensions around the world. Such thoughts led me to consider the wave of dissatisfaction the made Hillary and the rest of the establishment so much on the nose, and the incredible wave of support given to a person who was well-known for his TV shows and who was decidedly non-establishment.

Living far enough away to get a bit of perspective, while keeping abreast of history and current events made me realize that this change was initially generated by the fall of Lehmann bros and the subsequent financial meltdown. That cataclysm was the direct result of the worst case of corporate greed ever seen in the world, which was in turn created by economists who embraced a philosophy put out by a Russian Jewish refugee called Ayn Rand. Without going into the history of that singular woman, let’s just say she was the prophet of greed. Her battle cry of ‘Greed is Good’ caught on with the establishment, who saw a golden opportunity when one was given to them. The idea spread – among hundreds of acolytes were Alan Greenspan, Margaret Thatcher, and most importantly, Ronald Reagan. The rest of the capitalistic world followed as fast as they could.

Rand was able to build on the thing she found most appealing in her adopted country – rampant capitalism. There is no question that the capitalist model that America developed in the 19th and 20th centuries brought unprecedented development and wealth to the great majority; it also contained the seeds of its own downfall: the belief that private corporations were the driving force of that success, and could be trusted to put in place all necessary financial rules and safeguards. That government was therefore not needed, and that they would demonstrate it by showing everyone how honest they were. Indeed, most were, but when greed gets in the picture morality and probity go out the window, as the great depression of the 30’s showed.

That terrible event was met with renewed regulations, tightly drawn and government enforced, but in the euphoria of post war victory they were again watered down, and finally made impotent. Enter trickle down economics, the most outrageous lie ever foisted on a trusting public and the second biggest scam ever pulled on the world, followed by the biggest scam of all, sub-prime mortgage. More than anything else this resulted in two things – the depredation of the middle class and the violent skewing of the distribution of wealth. That it caused the collapse of many banks and insurances, of foreign governments, and of trust is now plain; that it was done with full knowledge of the outcome is a fact that is excused away, but it shows quite clearly that the dishonesty involved was deliberate and totally cynical.

Its aftermath has left conditions that precipitated enormous global tensions, having produced a situation where innocent people and nations could be blatantly robbed of money and power, as well as triggering the biggest bailout in history and the wholesale printing of money to keep the economy afloat. Regretfully, it was also one that the perpetrators got away with – how many of them are serving long terms in jail?

By far the worst outcome, however, was the undermining of cornerstones of democracy – trust. It proved that big business could not be trusted, that therefore a government that had allowed them to get away with it also could not be trusted. And that was both parties - Republicans and Democrats alike. The feeling of being dudded became an anger deep in the heart of middle America; the appalling decline in jobs and stagnation in wages was only partly offset by President Obama’s programs, leading to President Trump and the present political madness.

Except in a totalitarian society, trust is essential for any country to operate. Having broken that, the promises by the establishment were derided and the laurel wreath handed to someone who promised nothing more than to make the country great again - which can be man anything you like. To prove his anti-establishment credentials he has said and done things that they would never have done, for example saying in a pre-election speech that china had manipulated its currency to the detriment of America, but now, as he cosies up to that nation, denying he ever said it. Things like this are still emerging, much to the consternation of the rest of the world.

The origins of his acceptance by the majority reflect just how deeply disgust fills the hearts of so many Americans at the way they have been treated and taken as suckers for the past fifty or so years. Ordinary citizens do not have the ability or inclination to closely examine what that they are told, whether it is by government or business. Ordinary citizens are by and large trustworthy, and expect the same from their government and traders. Without this chaos ensues, values debased, and society falls apart.

The hallmark of a democracy is that having elected their preferred candidate the wishes of the electorate will be fulfilled as far as possible. That they can be trusted to do so, (even though experience has shown them that this is not always the case) has been the basis of a successful and stable society, a society they grew up in, one they want again. The establishment is going to have their work cut out to prove they can be trusted again. In the meantime president Trump will carry on, possibly illegally, certainly unpredictable and capricious, discriminatory and autocratic, yet so far proving he can do what the previous mob couldn’t or wouldn’t – talking turkey to China, Russia, Syria and North Korea.

But only time will tell whether he can be trusted. So far the signs are not good. Blatant contradictions, policy that seems to come on the run, disregard for debate, cronyism, suspicion that he is in it for his own benefit – but then it may be too big an ask for us to trust any leader today. And that is truly a kind of treason, one we should not have to endure. It is not the sign of a great nation.

Lindsay, enjoying the ho-hum peace and prosperity of Australia.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker