In retrospect, however, God has proved to be no competition for government. In 2009, public professions of piety notwithstanding, few people in their right mind really believe in either.
Not separated by constitution or practice are business and state. When the history books are written, the economic difficulties of 2008-2010 will be shown to have been a traditional recession combined with a temporary loss of faith in credit, followed by gross overreaction. The record will show that governments, especially those in the United States and the United Kingdom, used that temporary weakness to extend their tentacles further into the corporate world.
In the United States, Uncle Sam has taken control of AIG and a handful of banks. The government's every action since has demonstrated its inability to understand or manage a business. In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist seeks to bankrupt the nation with his "management" of insurance companies.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a dogmatic socialist, has likewise nationalized the banks and likewise proved clueless on how to run them. Both countries effectively crippled their new charges, and made their recovery impossible, by applying interest rates that would have seen the bankers thrown in jail if they had tried to charge the public even half as much.
Our somnambulistic lives are routinely interrupted by the thoughts of conspiracy theorists. Desperate for external validation of their lunatic theories, they bombard those with open minds with "evidence." Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11, and every other extreme event since the Renaissance are construed by the nut jobs as plots by government against humanity.
The rational observer has no choice but to doubt just about every conspiracy theory. Governments are infinitely too hapless to pull off any kind of complicated plot, above or below the radar. But it's no conspiracy that sees human rights curtailed in the developed world on a daily basis. The camera is the chief villain. Filmed "entertainment" is shown on TV, the narcotizing box in every living room; the video camera pointed at the public has become the weapon of choice for totalitarians.
Around the world, governments have misinterpreted George Orwell's "1984," which was written as a warning, as a blueprint for social control. Those opposed to the creeping spread of government control are marginalized as if they were escaped mental patients.
What is the reasonable person to make of all this? Is cowering in fear behind the couch the smart thing to do? The system has spun beyond the control of the ordinary man or woman. Mankind has set itself on an irreversible path toward a single, global government. The only good news is that those who are running this program are less effective than a bunch of mewling two-year-olds.
The real damage is being done voluntarily by greedy citizens who turn a blind eye to the realities of social development. The inert, unthinking life forms depicted in "Wall-E" are no longer denizens of an uncertain future; they are us.
It's almost certainly too late. Resistance, it seems, is futile. But, in case it is not, let us update the old maxim. Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your brains.
ROGER CROMBIE is a Bermuda-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
June 1, 2009
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