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Cure the vices


Writing in the 18th century Edmund Burke reminds us here that it's hopeless to change just the politicians and financiers who are ripping us off, we have to go to the root of the vices.

This is because

Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, can never willingly abandon it.
We can replace them, but we will only face their ilk again. So, says Burke, apply our remedies to the political vices.

For instance, change the way that candidates for Parliament are selected in Britain. Presently candidates are selected by a party. They would be far more likely to respond to the people they represent if they were nominated by a constituency-wide vote. This could help to break the power of the whips. As you recall, when the people wanted a vote on Lisbon and the party whips didn't, MPs were whipped into line and the people were denied the referendum they had been promised.

In America, end the selling of tax write-offs to special interests by establishing a flat tax. Break the link between earmarks and campaign contributions which undermines democracy.

Comments (2)

A Betts:

Burke is right.

Those with power generally lack humility & a real sense of their limited worth.

There should be constitutional limits on the maximum amount of time an MP can serve & representation should be genuine - i.e. through proportional representation.

Bring them back to earth!


Politicians require power as the mythical vampire requires blood, and any act is allowable to preserve it. They will not voluntarily hand out crosses and garlic to the public, because the proportion of night-stalkers to day-walkers in such a body precludes communal self-sacrifice.

It is difficult to think with those two fangs sunk in your neck, somehow giving you the feeling that everything is going to be all right, even if your heart stops, because someone who is wiser and more powerful is taking care of you. If you die, at least you will die comfortably.

If the next generation wakes up to a world in which Winston Smith falls in love with a burka, hoping that there is a woman under it, and is tried by Snowball and Napoleon because he likes bacon, well that's their problem.

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