Friday, August 01, 2008

Corruption for the Enrichment of a few.

A guest blog by Bruce Stewart

Corruption has stolen the future of millions of people- Mohan Nepali, Nepal

In Zentrepreneurism and on this blog, Allan Holender has discussed the Enron story, a story of deliberate deception and corruption for the enrichment of a few. In the wake of the collapse of this company, the US Congress passed highly restrictive laws known as Sarbanes-Oxley (after the legislation’s sponsors) designed to ensure another such event could not occur. Anyone investing their hard won savings in a firm regulated in the United States by virtue of being traded on an American investment market would be safe and secure.

Here we are, six years later, and the Enron story unfolds again, only this time in the public sector. Benjamin Franklin reported, as the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, that the framers had built “a republic, if you can keep it”. Apparently keeping to even the shade of the republic is no longer the purpose of those in public life. Instead, the American people have been made milch cows to serve at the pleasure of their corporatist and political masters.

Somehow, “making the Hamptons safe for Wall Street profits” doesn’t ring quite as nobly as “making the world safe for democracy”, although that is precisely what is going on under Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, with the connivance of the President and the US Congress. When President Bush signed into law the “bail out my friends in the name of saving the American homeowner” legislation on Wednesday, July 30 — a 7.00am signing, indicating even he knew how distasteful and subversive of America this is — another large railway spike in the coffin of the Republic was banged home.

While some Zentrepreneurial efforts may well grow to be enterprises of substance, most Zentrepreneurs will build businesses that support their life. They will be scaled to be small and local, where they can ensure their principles are not subverted. To burden people like these with the costs of bailing out the trillions in unfunded liabilities associated with the looting of America in the credit bubble and the bailout of the very institutions that inflated that bubble to a global crisis is to make a mockery of their efforts to build a better world for themselves and those they love.

One might, of course, say “well, that’s America”. Alas, Canada has no shortage of larceny, either: in the country in the G8 that runs trade surpluses, current account surpluses and has a pristine central bank balance sheet with twice the reserves required under the current international regime, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, has decided to follow the Federal Reserve into the game of contaminating the national currency backing with the liar loan derivatives that have fractured the American banking system. Does Canada or its financial institutions need this? No: but Carney “wanted to be useful”. In doing so, his behaviour corrupted something Canadians count on to be honest, fair and right.

Zentrepreneurs, in other words, have more to look out for than just the achievement of their dreams. These days, the moral framework of the Zentrepreneur is needed more than ever, in a society that wants no part of truth, right action or good behaviour on the part of its officials.

Bruce Stewart is an author, speaker, and futurist who wrote the forward to "Zentrepreneurism". You can visit his website at

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