Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Financial Crisis and Political Change....

The last financial crisis turned Indonesia, Thailand and S. Korea into full blown democracies. Sure there are a number of problems in Thailand (hmm...triggered by Thaksin selling Shin Corp to Temasek!?), but yesterday's Straits Times had an article on how stable Indonesia is now. S. Korea? The vibrancy unleashed since the Asian Crisis is clear for all to see - the old orders broken down and empowered citizens highly energised with a say on how the country should progress - there are peaceful protests all the time to serve as a reminder to those in power to do what is right.

America is a great nation....a great democracy so it seems. Over the past decades there has been disquiet about how campaign funds are raised, how big businesses with their lobbyists influence decisions in Washington, how politicians and special interests collude. The voices of dissent just couldn't gather enough momentum to bring about change in Washington. The healthcare system transformed for profits became unaffordable for ordinary citizens, overspending on defense (US spends more the the rest of the world combined), politicians whose decisions are dictated by the industry - energy policies written for oil companies, financial deregulation lobbied for by Wall Street etc etc. Unfortunately in US as in many countries, things have to fall apart before positive changes come.....things have to become painful for people to reject the status quo and put pressure on politicians to what is right. I'm sure they will elect a president who will give them the best chance for change and resist any attempts to preserve the status quo.

There is little doubt that the current crisis will worsen before it gets better. Politicians everywhere in the world can look good during the good times and govts can claim they have a successful working system in place because the strong global economy masks the cracks and weaknesses in their system. Income inequality, rising costs, losses in bad investments and profiteering by state owned companies are somewhat tolerable for most people during the good times because they don't stop to think when the assumption is their own income will rise over time. But when bad times come, the lack of a social safety net, the runaway greed of govt monopolies and lack of transparency handling tax payers' money will become unacceptable to the citizens. Of course, in some countries, these govt monopolies may so greedy, they will find ridiculous excuses to hike prices knowing that it is harder to do so when things get worse. Crisis is the cure for indifference, complacency and apathy. It is the fear of becoming jobless that makes one care for the jobless...the fear of poverty that makes one care for the poor....when one cannot pay for the price hikes...he will understand what is wrong with system. They say crisis will bring out the best in people. ....and crisis will bring out the best in leadership. We are all waiting to see the best from our leaders who are the best paid in the world...and lets see how good their "best" is.


Anonymous said...

Sofa. Push. Haha.
Today's Financial Times headline, sg is selling off the power plants. To get a good price, of coz must jack up the revenue lah. Smart move.

They are selling off the airport too. The airport that was once the "Pride of sg". They are selling off their shares in Bank Intl Indonesia to Maybank too.

Dont worry sg. I m sure they know what they are doing. It recalls me of a line in Stephen Chow's "King of comedy". In the movie, Cecilia's ex bf once told her that he would provide her a good living for the rest of her life. She was so touched. Later, her ex forced her to become prostitute. She asked him why. He said, "if you don't come out n work, how can I find money to feed you?"

So funny, isnt it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucky

Sadly, we may have gone past the tipping point. The elite that owns and runs this country might be inconvenienced but they will not feel too much pain.

The rest of us, however, will just have to pay for our past apathy. And probably too little too late given just how rotten the American system have become and how widely the contagion has spread.

Looking at the US presidential debate., it may be Mccain now represents the best hope. WW3 and reset civilisation back to square one.

ErniesUrn said...

Hullo Lucky,

Like you, I believe our leaders will put foward their "best" solution for the current crisis.

" ........ ". Yes. This is the best line they can put foward. Clap Clap.

AlphavilleSG said...

Hi Lucky,

So I suppose what you meant is that shadow agencies of the US gahmen like IMF is actually seeding democracies by plotting the obliteration of 'inefficient' over-regulated economies, for whom set the chess board, wrote the rulebook, provided the easy bait, when crunch time comes, empty stomach and food riots will run its path bringing down corrupt despot, ensuring wealth continue to flow, out that is, increasing indebtedness. Sounds like win-win to me. Trading democracy while you suck the bitter pill, reining in more tributary states. Now why not extend that idea, straight forward, just invade a country.

On a note, it wasn't so peaceful on streets of Bangkok yesterday...

I still affirm America is the greatest democracy in the world, maybe change can't be measured in decades but by generations, much like landscapes following a different timescale, but the fact that its next president is the fruit of planting 40 years back is very significant indeed.

So why are some nations able to resist these changes? It the dedicated focus on one's weakness building foundations to shore it up. The PAP Gahmen did it very well, every leaks, every cracks, via legislation to the implementation of economic policy.

Maybe that's where the problem is, they did it too well.