By J T Coombes
When the expenses scandal kicked off in 2009, by the very nature of the extent of the abuse it shocked society to its core. Eventually it led to sackings, resignations, apologies, some repayments and a few imprisonments.
Today we are yet again assailed by the knowledge that financial abuse continues in the shape of Maria Miller, and that the sums involved are again vast. Not only that but again there is desperate resistance to admit blame and little remorse for personal actions that caused the abuse.
To me this is symptomatic of a broken parliamentary system that for too long has been allowed discretion over its actions. The proverbial “student marking their own homework”! Nor is this damaged system limited to the UK. In Europe the EU have been unable to have their accounts fully signed off for 20 consecutive years because of “discrepancies”.
Whilst I accept that the EU budget is vast, the fact that this ineptitude has gone on for such a long time is indicative of a bureaucracy that has gone beyond lack of respect for the source of this money, the taxpayer, but now treats it with contempt. So much so that in amongst the debates about the EU nowhere can a voice be heard demanding that this lax accounting practice be resolved before any further debate about its future be considered. After all it is only with the vast contribution by the taxpayer that the edifice and its contents can continue.
Not one single politician has stood up to be counted, although they are our elected representatives which, if directors of a private company, would have been struck off after just two or three years of accounting abuse and banned from holding this position of responsibility.
How have we come to such a fundamental breakdown at the very heart of Democracy in this 21st century? In a word . .. . Apathy!
As a species we are designed to strive and achieve. It is the foundation of how we function from the very day we are born. In striving to achieve we are constantly pushing the boundaries. Boundaries that are represented by our parents and teachers, as we grow into adulthood, and then by society and its standards as we progress through Life.
If proper boundaries are not in place abuse occurs, as we push to see how far we can go. I have believed for a long time now that anti-social behaviour denotes the young (and not so young) searching out the boundaries to their behaviour.
We have taken the powers away from parents and teachers, confusing temperance of abusive behaviour with “Human Rights”. Human Rights can only come from a firm sense of responsibility towards Society and then the right to exercise freedom of action within that sense of responsibility.
And it is not restricted to the young as we watched in horror the implosion of the world’s financial markets in 2007/8, brought about by a complete lack of oversight or boundary control, as bankers pushed and pushed the limits of financial manipulation and inventiveness to destruction.
And the subsequent abuse of power that has not installed adequate boundaries since then means that it is only time before it happens again, and the consequences, like global warming, do not bear thinking about.
We are an incredible species, with abilities that have always lacked true recognition and understanding, from the invention of the wheel to the wonders of modern medicine and Space travel. However when something goes wrong we lack the ability, or will, to learn the lessons (a very popular phrase these days), as vested interest applies itself to the protection of profits and power.
It is now within the province of the 99 per cent, through the arrival of the internet, to exert its true power for the first time in our history and seek to change the status quo that has existed for millennia. We have ample examples of this new found people power at work from the lobbying of online organisations such as 38 degrees and Avaaz to the momentum that can be achieved through Facebook and Twitter. They will sound the death knell of apathy by providing the right tools for the job, once we get angry enough to use them.
Perhaps Maria Miller, supported by a Prime Minister with questionable values, will provide the fuse wire to ignite an anger that will result in lasting change . . . only time will tell.