Tag Archives: Global Magna Carta

The Age of Snowden

“WHEN YOU FIRST go on duty at CIA headquarters, you raise your hand and swear an oath — not to government, not to the agency, not to secrecy. You swear an oath to the Constitution. So there’s this friction, this emerging contest between the obligations and values that the government asks you to uphold, and the actual activities that you’re asked to participate in”.

(Extract from a recent article by Edward Snowden – The full article is available here )

It becomes blatantly clear from this insight into the previous world of Edward Snowden what values he operates from and how those values provided the conflict of interest he tussled with before making his world shattering revelations.

His first loyalty, at the behest of his employers, was to the American Constitution. This mighty document was conceived and implemented by the Founding Fathers, to give their new country and its people a set of values to live by. Over the centuries, this document has been amended, in line with the evolution of the country, to ensure its values reflect changes to Society.

You could almost say that the Constitution is ‘America set in stone’. It was obviously seen this way by the security services who employed Snowden, because they demanded his oath of allegiance to those values, not them or the current government.

Therefore, this places Snowden and his work above his employers and his government, to ensure abuse of the Constitution, by the greedy and powerful, can be recognised and dealt with.

If you read the above article you will see that his employers were aware of abuses to the people by the powerful and how the system to deal with such abuses was simply ignored. In the end Snowden had no option than to ‘go public’ with his fears and concerns and the rest is history.

What interests me in all of this is that element of human nature, which is in all of us at varying levels and pushed him finally to do what he did, knowing full well the consequences of his actions included possible lifetime incarceration or death.

Deep within all of us is a sense of right and wrong. It can’t be defined and is not set out in any statutes. Whilst religious teachings give guidelines, our sense of right and wrong can vary from one person to the next and is often the source of conflict, particularly where politics is involved.

Whatever these differences there is one common denominator that triggers this human reaction and that is dishonesty that leads to distrust.

Unjust behaviour can manifest in discrimination, political deviance or corporate abuse. In Snowden’s case it was the unjust nature of the use of surveillance upon the public at large, accepted as normal by his employers, in spite of violating the Constitution they had all sworn allegiance to.

As a species we can only function at our best if our perception of the truth is not violated. That perception may come from false information and propaganda that supports vested interest but until that vested interest is made public we are happy to go along with what we are told.

However, when that trust is violated, as was the case with what Snowden revealed, the credibility of those in charge is destroyed. There is no doubt that, with our newfound technology, we have entered a new age where our perception of the truth is changing dramatically, as secrets of centuries are now coming to light and reshaping Society . . . A Snowden Age.

As our traditional institutions become less credible and are seen for the manipulative bodies they have always been, so our scepticism evolves new services to meet the demand for truth. We are all aware of WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning and many others who have been motivated by right over wrong and how the establishment has reacted with outrage and suppression, not only to subdue the perpetrators but also to try and frighten off further acts of this nature.

Sadly, our leaders have not recognised what they are dealing with, because they are bereft of it themselves. We are talking here about integrity, which has vanished from the face of global leadership and which many would laugh at, unable to see how critical it is to how we live our lives.

Honesty is the only means by which to build anything lasting, be it government, commerce or personal friendships. Trust is implicit in all of these human interactions and when it is ignored or flouted there is a breaking down of the status quo.

I believe we are now seeing a breaking down of our global institutions from the disclosures of whistleblowers like Snowden, as we become more aware of how they operate. They cannot survive with such distrust, although they are blindly trying to bluff their way through their constant abuses by secrecy, manipulation of the media and anything else that might support their cause.

Nowhere is this now more evident than in the UK with the forthcoming Referendum and is responsible for new services springing up designed to get at the truth:

Full Fact  whose purpose they state as Factchecking isn’t just about writing articles. It’s also about correcting misinformation, and stopping it from spreading in public debate.

The BBC has also jumped on the bandwagon with its new service, ‘Reality Check

Their need becomes obvious today, if this – one of many – recent whistleblower reports, is anything to go by.

(David Cameron’s former director of strategy recently accused the Treasury of “making up numbers” for its dossier alleging economic disaster if Britain leaves the EU. Steve Hilton said they were “phoney figures” and were cooked up with the Treasury in the same way as the Tories’ famous 1992 campaign that claimed a Labour Tax Bombshell would cost every family £1,250 more.)

That democracy has come to such a low ebb is a sure sign of the growing decadence of Society, something repeated throughout history.

As a further sign of how lost meaningful values have now become The New York Times reported that:

‘Nobel Peace Prize Winning President Obama Has Been At War Longer Than Any Other American President’, (approving $200 Billion in Arms Deals Since 2009 when he received the prize).

When that prestigious prize is taken away from Obama and given to Edward Snowden I think we will be headed towards a meaningful world where integrity is at long last being valued.

And let’s be honest my friends, it is the only means by which we can deal with the challenges we now face for our very survival.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

Greece Can Return Us to Sanity

What a party the banks have had over the last 10 years. An orgy of endless money printing and debt leveraging Derivatives, (or gambling slips to you and me!). When it all blew up in 2008 with sub-prime mortgages, the taxpayer was forced to quickly bail them out and off they went again with sub-prime auto loans by the million and Sovereign debt by the billion, all of which is feeding yet more odious debt into an already very sick global financial system.

If this was not enough, a group of them then became involved in rigging the LIBOR global interest rate structure, whilst others played with vast tax avoidance and money laundering schemes.

Aficionados of Monopoly will quickly recognise that in spite of all of this unsavoury activity the banks are holding limitless “Get out of Jail Free” cards. Even these are not really necessary, because there are no “Go to Jail” cards in a game that has been heavily rigged in their favour!

Reprimands are levied by the authorities, with fines of seemingly vast sums of money, which in reality just come out of petty cash. Even the reprimands have been rigged, as the fines are ‘tax deductible’ and so the very people the banks have screwed find themselves helping pay their fines. You really can’t make this sort of stuff up!

Our global financial system, seriously weakened by odious debt, is now further challenged by a derivatives market few understand and which, according to the Bank of International Settlements, was worth a staggering $710 trillion in 2014 and growing.

And so the party continues uninterrupted, as little legislation has been put in force to separate this devastating gambling activity (as we found to our cost in 2008), from traditional banking practices. In the case of sub-prime mortgages when the banking loans began to default the derivatives they were linked to became worthless, bringing the world to its knees.

We now have another default in the making as Greece stands up and says “Enough. We don’t want to play this silly game of austerity anymore!” Their debt has also been ‘parcelled’ out to join all of the other bad debt arrangements still there from 2008 up to the present, precariously waiting to come tumbling down with greater devastation than before.

The reaction of both Brussels and the Troika to this tiny country and the responsible actions it is now contemplating demonstrates the fragility of the present financial system and its inability to withstand such action and just how frightened those in the know really are.

So why has Greece finally stood up to this banking abuse? Interestingly it comes from human rather than financial motivation. The Greek people have voted in a government that has values quite unique in the present world of politics and something simply not entertained in the world of finance.

The Greek government is fighting for the dignity and self-respect of its people. It has called “enough” in response to the increased and continuing suicide rate of good people brought to their knees with despair at seemingly endless austerity measures that are not solving anything. People and families, who until recently had been working and raising their children, are now reduced to scavenging in the rubbish for food.

(Remember it was the boss of the IMF who declared only last year that “the global economy’s ‘new mediocre’ phase of low growth could well become the ‘new reality’”, ensuring millions remain without prospects of future employment or purpose to their lives.)

Human dignity and self-respect is inbuilt within all of us and knows when to call a halt to abuse. Just think for a moment about our own current abuse with:

  • Surveillance
  • Austerity
  • Secret ‘democracy destroying’ TTIP deals
  • Ignoring our wishes over country wrecking Fracking
  • Constant reneging of political promises by those we have elected to power.

It is here that Greece could return us all to sanity by bringing down this unreal world of abuse and financial deception that has been allowed to grow over the last decade. The bully boy tactics towards Greece standing up for itself shows a fear by the EU and the banks that others might follow, causing the destruction of the present global power structure.

By supporting Greece in bringing down the financial system, rather than letting the banks do it again, is not as irresponsible as it sounds, allowing us to take back our dignity and self-respect over an increasingly autocratic and abusive global regime. The alternative is that offered by Christine Lagarde, as mentioned earlier.

Certainly it will mean a painful time for all of us, (which has to come one way or the other), but that time would be limited, with economic growth and jobs waiting at the other end, as Iceland has already demonstrated.

The standoff with Greece and The EU is simply history repeating itself, as David once again faces up to Goliath . . . and we know the outcome of that first seemingly uneven confrontation.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes