Monday, 17 March 2014

I think Mr Gates might be wrong about some things

"The U.S. government in general is one of the better governments in the world. It's the best in many, many respects. Lack of corruption, for instance, and a reasonable justice system."

source: Rolling Stone

The US justice system locks up more of its citizens than any other nation on earth. It also executes people - mostly because they are black, could not afford good lawyers and because the prosecutors were more interested in getting speedy "result" than seeing justice served. These practices have been commonplace for many years but only since the development of DNA testing have so many false convictions been so convincingly demonstrated. It is the place where corporate profits determine length of sentences and treatment of prisoners  

It is legal in the US for a police officer to stop you, take your cash - or any property you have - and use it for whatever the department he or she works for sees fit. In a civil suit you then have to prove that they acted unreasonably. Good luck with that.

As for corruption, the US has one of very few "democratic" systems that recognizes corporations as persons and money as free speech. The corporate sector, as a result, now owns the legislatures both federally and at state levels.  Most policy decisions are now driven by the needs of the corporations - as is most of the pressure to reduce government regulations of all kinds. The lack of oversight of the oil and gas and transportation sectors lead to the rash of exploding oil trains recently. At one time there were measures in place that would have prevented these disasters. They were removed at the specific behest of the entities that benefitted financially from their removal.

I wrote the above three paragraphs off the top of my head. Then I went looking for suitable links. That did not take long.

And the next day I came across this from the Sightline Institute

In North America, the amount of actual, law-breaking, vote-buying, quid pro quo corruption—corporate fixers handing sacks of cash to politicians in back alleys—is minimal. But voters are basically right that the political system is thoroughly corrupt. Politicians do not sell their votes, but they represent the views of their donors, and donors are mostly rich. 
This subtler form of corruption, what Harvard Law Professor and democracy crusader Lawrence Lessig calls “systemic corruption,” is ubiquitous. (Lessig’s booke-bookTED talk, and new four-minute video and  are the best introductions to the topic of money in politics, bar none.) Systemic corruption allows participants in the political process to feel virtuous and law-abiding, yet it perfectly perverts representative democracy. Elected representatives speak not for the views of the majority of their constituents but for their contributors.

After publishing this, I found a film clip my son recently shared on Google+

And some days later this is a real headline and story in the Washington Post

FBI conducts raids targeting elected officials in three states

and then there is this story about a "judicial extortion racket"


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