Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dud bridges? Check. Private Presidential Palaces? Check.

I saw some TV coverage of this talk a while back - which also shows how long my backlog is(!)

Small groups pushing policy without evidence - sound familiar? Where are our median voters? How come they don't push for the kind of sensible reforms for which "a fair amount of consensus" apparently already exists, in "education, labour markets, land markets, and achieving macro-economic stability and better public spending?"

I suspect the median voter has had to rush wholesale to hang on to the Satakaya-tails just to survive, maybe angling for whatever infrastructure contracts the Chinese didn't bother with, or hoping for scraps from such long-term empire-building as the Deniyaya Raja-pasa-plex (new definition for PPP: Private Presidential Palace?)

A friend on holiday from the original home of the Land Rover observed over the weekend that one has to come to Sri Lanka to see tricked-out Land Rovers of every flavour hammering around - mostly on Colombo's streets of course, rather than the moonscapes all the ostentatious accessorizing implies they're meant for. I even saw an LR3 sporting a snorkel and winch - and the requisite garage plates - the other day. The cheap-and-cheerful Mahindras and Tatas seem long forgotten - good thing Land Rover is nominally Indian now - more than enough for Comrade Vimal to spin another set of rationalizations (wait - didn't he hate the Indians? Or was that last week?). Even the bald-headed, aisle-crossing Minister who pretentiously went around in a Hindustan Ambassador when he was in the last government came away from launching his own political party (better than admit defeat and go back whence he came) dispensing Justice in a shiny silver Jaguar.

Has the median voter evolved, throwing in the towel and joining the mad scramble to feed on the carcass? If the median voter has in fact had to become a opportunistic, carrion-feeding pragmatist in a ridiculously politicized society, what hope does that hold out for a "brighter future" that we all apparently still hope for, the past four years apparently not having been bright enough?

Do we really have a silent majority that might, juuust might, this time actually make the trip to the voting booth and send the Scamtastic Four and their friends and family back to their upgraded or brand-new homes to try and get by on the fortunes built up over the last four years? Tough ask, I would say, given the stranglehold on the state machinery and the scale on which it is being mis-used - why risk one's neck to put pen to paper when there are many goons happy to do it for you?

If we as voters do in fact come out of our stupor and topple the four-headed beast (wrong part of the anatomy? Many-pocketed, for sure) it's not like the journey's over. Better almost anyone than this clan, the past four years should tell us that. But we voters must keep the pressure up for the vital promises to be followed-through, for once. We must get up off our welfare-softened backsides and maintain a firmer hold on our elected servants (with less prostrating before them for a start) with clearer causality between good or bad policies and the political outcomes we voters alone should be able to decide.

It's time to step up to the plate.

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