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Tinker Barber Soldier Spy

plus minus 48 degrees wobble

Thursday, April 08, 2010

want wind, get wind; want rain, get rain.

This is direct translation from a mandarin phrase describing the situation where power has corrupted and absolute power has corrupted absolutely, and where checks and balances has been effectively neutered. Pardon me if I got it wrong. I am not the authority on mandarin phrases as I got F9 for my second language. Song Dynasty Grand Tutor Pang may have uttered the phrase.
I am not usually keen on debates since they are academic NATO, but I followed one particular episode of the Sentosa international varsity debate as translation was provided and the topic was on whether paying high salaries would prevent corruption. The team arguing against the motion was advocating a lost cause as a member of the 3 judge panel was part of the local political establishment. The team as such probably did not do furious internet research, and either failed to think of it or found it politically incorrect to argue that moolah is the proverbial double-edged sword and can buy as much as it can prevent corruption. This is extracted from a 'discussion thread' I read at littlespeck.com which I found absolutely profound that I saved the paragraph at the time I came across it:
'Paying millions and high salaries has never been about preventing corruption notwithstanding the reason given that it is. As Abdullah Ah Mad Bad Awi said recently and as others have said in the past, if you are corrupt you are corrupt. The predisposition to dishonesty and corruption lies in one's character and personal upbringing. It cannot be prevented by paying one a "high salary". In any case, if you have to pay someone a million and more because you see him as potentially corrupt, then it cannot be that the person is a man of "integrity" in the first place.
Paying millions and high salaries is about securing political loyalty, buying sycophancy and sealing the mouths of the minions. Minions whose interests are quickly tied and fastened to ones own interest and as such, will ensure that they do nothing to hurt you because hurting you would mean hurting themselves. It will ensure that the minions represent their master and not the interest of their electorate. It will ensure that anything qualifies as "defamation" if the master so decides that it is. It will ensure that you torture someone if the master so decides that he is a Marxist or asserts that he is working with "foreigners". Who wants to rock the boat or challenge the system and political order when he is well fed, well looked after and paid "high salaries" and whose interest and "high salaries" will collapse if that of his master collapses? After all, has anyone ever seen a well-fed dog bite the hands of his master?'
Maybe a debate on such a subject cannot and should not be presided over by a 3 judge panel. That is why a US Supreme Court judicial review panel consists of 5 judges, or is it 7. Just as accounting regulatory bodies recognizes that independence is a perennial issue with corporate audits and governance, the constitution of a judicial panel would not matter if the judges are beholden to their paymaster. That is when Grand Tutor Pang wants wind, he gets wind, and when he wants rain, he gets rain. All because his daughter has 2 holes between her legs, which is as it should be. Unlike Zhuge Liang who had to have an altar erected and chant hard to conjure his wind and rain, Grand Tutor Pang just offers holes to the emperor. The worth of holes cannot be under-estimated. Moolah is not the only thing that can corrupt. But moolah can pay for everything else that can corrupt.
Written in the spirit of Cato the Younger (John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon: Cato's Letters):
We know, by infinite examples and experience, that men possessed of power, rather than part with it, will do anything, even the worst and the blackest, to keep it; and scarce ever any man upon Earth went out of it as long as he could carry every thing his own Way in it ..... This seems certain, that the good of the world, or of their people, was not one of their motives either for continuing in power, or for quitting it.
It is the nature of power to be ever encroaching, and converting every extraordinary power, granted at particular times, and upon particular occasions, into an ordinary power, to be used at all times, and when there is no occasion, nor does it ever part willingly with any advantage ....Alas! Power encroaches daily upon liberty, with a success too evident; and the balance between them is almost lost. Tyranny has engrossed almost the whole Earth, and striking at mankind root and branch, makes the world a slaughterhouse; and will certainly go on to destroy, till it is either destroyed itself, or, which is most likely, has left nothing else to destroy.


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