After Raid, Yoga Guru's Protest Becomes Firestorm … Early Sunday, police officers removed a supporter from the site where Swami Ramdev (left) was holding a hunger strike in New Delhi … A sobbing yoga guru vowed on Sunday to continue his hunger strike against corruption and blamed the governing Congress Party for a chaotic, early morning raid in which thousands of his followers were dispersed by police officers wielding nightsticks and tear gas. Swami Ramdev, a guru with a large following in India, had started a mass hunger strike that began Saturday in New Delhi. But less than 14 hours later, amid the tumult of the raid, Swami Ramdev was detained by officers and later flown to the state of Uttaranchal, where he was taken to his ashram near the city of Haridwar. – New York Times
Dominant Social Theme: Make government better and stronger – if you dare!
Free-Market Analysis: We've been following the Swami Baba Ramdev affair in India because it is representative of a larger power-elite dominant social theme that we noticed a while ago having to do with making government less corrupt. Ramdev apparently wants to do this by reducing the amount of high currency denomination in circulation, among other ideas.
Baba Ramdev, a newly minted political critic, insists that India's large denomination Rs.500 and Rs.1000 should be withdrawn from the entire country in order to lessen financial fraud. He also is seeking direct elections, the repatriation of all illegal funds, a methodology to ensure that all Indians declare and pay their share of taxes and, finally, the death sentence for any politician found to be corrupt. Ramdev, still a relatively young man, is a yoga specialist, but he seems to be moving quickly into the political realm.
Ramdev's concerns are shared. In fact, one finds them mimicked to some degree by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Officials from these groups are inflicting austerity measures relentlessly on the Southern PIGS – though the austerity meme, we've noticed, is becoming generalized now and is being aimed at the UK and US as well. One of the big issues is tax collection. Another, obviously is ensuring that public expenditures are lessened and that the State does less with more.
We've even found some of these concerns echoed by WikiLeaks. Julian Assange has stated that strategic leaking of government secrets can force government to become more transparent and therefore more responsive. To this end, he has acquired the names of numerous high-end tax evaders who apparently hold anonymous accounts in Switzerland.
The meme is a generalized one. Go on Google and type in "government corruption" and over 50 million cites are listed. Wikipedia has a "political corruption" entry, but you'll also find "nationmaster," a website that charts government corruption country by country. (We wonder how they know.)
A brief scan of Google News discovers numerous articles on government corruption. There's former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' indictment on campaign finance corruption charges. An article posted at Newsmax.com entitled "Indictment Exposes D.C.'s Culture of Corruption." The article explains that Tea Party conservatives "say it's another example of rampant corruption that is spilling across the Potomac and into America's heartland."
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, recently announced documents from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) show officials at the FCC colluded with the leftist Free Press organization to regulate the Internet under the FCC's so-called "net neutrality" program. Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to a December 27, 2010, Freedom of Information Act request.
Corruption in Russia is much in the news. The Voice of America reports that "Russians Protest Corruption, a Hot Election Year Issue." In April, during elections, anti-corruption rallies were held regularly in Moscow. It was the top issue on voters' minds in this election year, VOA explains.
AP reports on "Hundreds of women" demonstrating in Uganda's capital over "high food prices and government corruption." Just two days ago, Bloomberg reported on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' Call "for Afghan Anti-Corruption Steps." In Afghanistan on a farewell tour, Gates urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his government "to step up anti-corruption measures and to improve services."
While some of this could be explained by plain anger with government inefficiency and greed, the authoritarian strands that emerge from protesters give us the idea that this may indeed be more than simple cause-and-effect. When protesting government corruption, why ask for more taxation, or at least more enforceable taxation. Why ask, as the Baba Ramdev does, for more government action while damning the government for manifold faults? it seems strangely inauthentic.
it reminds us of the World Bank/IMF construct where the World Bank encourages lending and the IMF then enters proclaiming that corruption much end and services must be cut while taxes are raised. In other words, the "corruption meme" seems to partake of the IMF conversation, which in our view is a phony one put in place by the powers-that-be to EXPAND government authority while squeezing the middle class.
We're not sure why the Anglo-America power elites are circulating this meme now, if they are. We find it relatively easy to identify the Anglosphere elite's fear-based themes because they are always based on pseudo science and posit a government solution, preferably a global one. The government anti-corruption meme is emotion-based as well, but would seem to target anger rather than fear.
It may have something to do with the ever-expanding austerity measures that are being inflicted on countries around the world. The theme certainly postulates a problem – and it is one that the powers-that-be can offer the solution of "austerity." Here's an Irish Times article from just two days ago that puts the EU PIGS into the context we're discussing:
Much as the Greek turmoil last year magnified Ireland's debt dilemma, each country needs the other to find a way out of the morass. No one expects Greece to get back into the markets next year, and that will make it more difficult for Ireland to make its own return …
Ireland's implosion had its roots in a grinding bank bust, crippled public finances and inattentive leaders who chose lax regulation over proper supervision of greedy financial institutions. The hope remains, however, that the modernisation that fuelled the boom will provide a platform for recovery and growth. It won't be easy – far from it – but Ireland's export-led orientation offers the rare prospect of potential growth on an arid horizon.
Greece does not have a similar platform. The country came into the crisis with huge debts and a weak private sector that is heavily dependent on business from an overweight state. Pay is generally low and the political system is tainted by tax evasion and corruption.
This article, entitled, "Greece: Ireland's partner in crisis" obviously lays the blame for the crisis on "inattentive leaders … lax regulation … tax evasion … corruption." Of course, as we often point out, nowhere in such articles is there any discussion of the central banking economic distortions at the root of the problem or even the EU's calculated bribery of PIGS' elites that led to the binge-borrowing in the first place.
What does seem obvious to us is that austerity is being offered to us as the remedy for government corruption, lax regulation and tax evasion. Within this context, we are to believe that IMF bureaucrats act a spokesgroup for a larger banking industry that is both responsible and disciplined (in contrast to lax PIGS). The implication is that bank officials demanding a full payback (from countries that cannot pay) are possessed of both probity and common-sense.
We have a hard time believing that. But here are the DB, we're all for some government corruption. The idea of responsible governance gives us the chills. Nothing that large governments do is efficient or even makes much sense; a good deal of it is terribly destructive to citizens, removing their ability to create businesses or even retain enough earnings to raise a family. Government corruption at least gives people the opportunity to find loopholes in officialdom's most repressive and illogical dictates. It may allow business to reduce a tax bite; or enable a sole family provider to keep his or her head above water.
The IMF and its banking backers may see government corruption as "bad" and higher taxes, fewer services and privatization of government resources as good, but isn't this a simplistic viewpoint? In fact there is almost nothing that government, especially big government, does well (except perhaps wage war).
Edited on date of publication.
Government corruption offers people the opportunity to avoid the worst excesses of regulatory overkill and excessive taxation. The idea of a large, transparent, efficient WORLD government would combine all the worst features of current national and regional systems. We admire much about Indian culture and civilization, but we're not with Swami Baba Ramdev on this one.