Crookery as a root metaphor in economics?

“Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall’n on you:
Ye are many – they are few.”

Current politics serves only commercial interests, and only  a certain, dated section of them.  This kind of talk is probably more dangerous than stripping off after far too many beers and screaming ‘you’re all bastards’ at the Town Hall.    Byron’s plea of anarchy was, of course, some adolescent, selfish cry, made by someone who could get away with it.  There is always what to do once the we have destroyed corrupt society, as it seems corruption rather easily reforms.  Marx’s pathetic assertion to a dictatorship of the proletariat, supposedly temporary until the State withered away, was a chronic betrayal of scholarship.  The Greeks pissed about with political forms a much as I did chemicals in test-tubes and other paraphernalia in the laboratory.  Their democracy was bloody and awful, only slightly hidden under Plato and art.  All forms shared corruption, as surely as my reagents had electrons.

On of my interests as a cop was Cash-In-Transit robbery (no not forming a gang of cops to do raids).  Pretty much every clever plan we could come up with to make it more difficult, really only changed the focal point and severity of the menace used.  The same has held more recently, with all kinds of techniques in use from disruption (seize and crush the ‘pool’ cars of the crooks), dye-bombs, smart water (really clever), CCTV and the rest.  Even producing a big decline in one’s own area, just resulted in unwanted crime statistics in adjoining areas.  Make some old dear’s house secure and this will deter further burglary there, but someone else will cop for the same, somewhere else.  Reduce burglary-dwelling and shops get hit harder.  We have become so adept at ‘false accounting’ that we can demonstrate the exact opposite of the true state of affairs.  Statistics is a Greek word and they knew just how to bend them.

There are more sensible ways to organise society than we use.  We’d need transparency and the removal of bandit and mad religious and money interests.  My guess is most of us put up with the devil we know.  Even in Iraq, people would tell me Saddam was horrible, but at least he kept the Mullahs off their backs.  There is also the question of keeping sly, jealous, gossiping neighbours of our backs – both Gestapo and Stasi worked on this basis, amongst others.

Just as crime rarely comes to a halt, but rather changes its geography or nature, political corruption does not go away because we rush onto the streets or vote one government out.  There are arguments that Korea was more efficient under authoritarian corruption than as democracy advanced, because there were fewer people to pay off in the dictatorship.

Bribery, which most of us recognise as a crime, rarely requires money in brown envelopes, and in economics, we talk about the exchange of rents.  In a dictatorship terror and a lack of real, accessible records may be all that is needed for the powerful to fill their boots and off-shore accounts.  In our ‘democracies’, the crime and syndicates are still present, but have to proceed in different ways – burglary to shoplifting if you like.

I’m all for stripping down our institutions (but presumably not real capital like hospitals?), but not without some pointers from history that the defaults we tend to are no better than before.  I don’t tend to the facile notion of an underlying human nature that is good.  The eventual question is whether we can establish a healthier and happier society without the current crookerys of high finance and political corruption.  We have the technology to rebuild.  What we lack is both a substantial knowledge of what really goes on in the current mess, and what a mess we’d make of it if we just change the personnel.

Most people would be shocked by what can be found, well-argued, by academics and reporters who don’t expect answers to be found outside Number Ten, pouting and hanging about in overcoats.  Most of us understand burglary as something like some scuzz in a striped sweater leaving our house with a bag of swag (this is actually inadequate).  We know much less about political contributions and how interests that make them are ‘paying to play’ and a whole series of ‘rent exchanges’ occurs in all sorts of government-banking-commerce stuff.  The idea is not ‘to read and go Marxist’, but to have more of the information available in understandable form for us all.  On my reading, the crookery is everywhere and the main reasons for all the transactions going on per real trade (more than 100 to 1) is now parasitic and we get little benefit from the parasite.

Simple relations in economics disappeared long ago.  We might better understand it through the metaphor of crookery.  This is all so ‘left-wing’, Niall Fergusson is published on it in the Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1190197/Corrupt-amoral-politicians-An-economy-sinking-terrifying-debt-And-people-enraged-Britain–lesson-chill-all.html

A ten minute Google spin provides the links below, the university library hundreds more to papers and books.

http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/2168/full online radical paper

http://www.countrydoctor.co.uk/politics/politics%20-%20Government%20corruption.htm

http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/11/pilger-britain-british

http://globalization.icaap.org/content/v2.1/07_fitzsimons.html

http://www.seangabb.co.uk/?q=node/424

http://www.slideshare.net/samvaknin/corruption-and-financial-crime

http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/bb980311.htm not what it sounds like

http://www.fas.org/news/russia/2000/russia/part07.htm

http://news.myjoyonline.com/business/201010/53677.asp

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/02/the_uk_and_corr.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/12697/64833

http://repeatingislands.com/2010/06/01/turks-and-caicos-islands-an-economic-free-for-all-amidst-corruption/

 

One might wonder why our mainstream public dialogue is not full of the ideas and their contestation.  We are uneducated is why, thick as two short planks by the time we leave school, either because parents have clapped us regularly round the head with the planks or we have listened to what teachers are allowed to tell us.  Soon, you might have to do some Army time to teach.  Any real world time is likely to help.  My old man was a sqaddie convert, so the idea ain’t new.

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