Making democracies accountable

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Rizwan Ghani

OBAMA came to power to bring change. But under his rule, Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was passed which according to the bailout summary of special inspector general for TARP is government commitment of $16.8 trillion (not $700bn as claimed by the Democrats) to big businesses out of which $4.6trillion have already been paid. Under the new financial system average American taxpayer will permanently pay them. It will further exacerbate unemployment, inequality and anti-immigrant sentiments in US and other capitalist economies worldwide. But there is no accountability of Obama.
Political left has failed democracies. America has chosen a conservative President. Europe is getting ready for surprises as elections are going to be held in France, Germany, Austria and Poland between now and September 2017. By signing Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, originally passed in 1933 by Roosevelt prohibiting commercial banks from engaging in the investment business to protect public from crimes of banking industry, Bill Clinton allowed banking industry complete access to public money and it took them just a decade to destroy country’s economy, a working economic system and generations of working class unless Trump upholds his election promise of regulating Wall Street. In fact, entire financial industry cesspool needs to be cleansed. The 2011 onetime report to US Congress revealed that AAA ratings of securities were falsified.
The US Justice Department has ordered $5 billion in restitution for it. According to US Justice Department, an American branch of multinational bank did $881bn money laundering for Mexican drug cartel but the penalty for it was $1.9bn. The American media lamented that the bank was too big to be indicted. Regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies and justice department failed to stop betting, insider trading, tax havens and tax evasions in America, while public is being incarcerated for petty crimes. Even Trump got elected despite admitting tax evasion publicly. The system of free trade was skewed. Clinton tried to open world market to American products. Instead, the well paid American jobs were outsourced. The local wages have been kept stagnant since then. Due to corporate greed, American companies either moved their businesses overseas or hired foreign workers at much lower salaries, and used tax havens to avoid paying taxes. In America, it resulted in Trump’s election and in UK Brexit. The calls for free trade from countries like China and Russia and Europe show that there is faith in free trade. If Beijing’s idea of free trade in APEC is accepted it could further fuel anti-immigrant sentiments as Western economies are not prepared to compete in Asia.
No system is perfect. May it be presidential or parliamentary form of governments or capitalism, socialism or neoliberalism. It is the people and policies that matter. The western media has repeatedly shown that the rulers, state institutions and businesses are centers of greed, immorality and crime. The news of financial frauds, the Panama leaks, individual abuse of power and nepotism show that democracies need to be made accountable. The best way is to hold bankers, rulers and institutions accountable through state institutions. The current hue and cry over Trump in Europe shows that parliamentary form of government is more democratic and accountable than presidential.
Foreign policy is being abused for vested stakes. The expansion of NATO, the war crimes and destruction in the ME and weakening of UN is part of global policy to protect trade and geo-strategic interests. The rise of nationalism in West is mostly due to ignorance. France should come clean on its uranium companies in Niger. Blair, Bush and Obama should be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Nation states should be allowed to make their own policies. UN should be free to resolve long standing issues like Kashmir, Palestine, Cyprus. Germany is living with a million refugees, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghans for decades. EU is hosting Europeans. Like always, human beings get along. But to do that there is a strong need for transparency and accountability in Western democracies for a safer, tolerant and cohesive world.
Finally, the mechanization and modernization of economy is our real challenge. We are nostalgic about factory cities with jobs and [their] bustling life. But reviving rust belts of America to their past glory will not be as simple. Like NHS, Brexit will be a big challenge for UK. Keeping EU together will be a bigger challenge for Merkel. The corporations are shifting to mechanization. They are using robots to increase profits and cut overhead costs of human workers pension, healthcare or interference of unions etc. Scapegoating immigrants, terrorism, neighbours or opposition may win elections but they won’t bring jobs, revive economies or build tolerance. For that there is a need to develop an economic system which allows man and machine to co-exist in job markets in an accountable democracy.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

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