An article I published almost three years ago is timely on this election day. Voters have an opportunity to change direction. If we do not, the plundering of British Columbia will accelerate. Gordon Campbell began with a set of principles and slid into corruption. Christy Clark started without principle.
The problem here is not wealth, but corruption. . . We don’t need to prevent people from being rich if we can prevent wealth from translating into power. And there has been progress on that front. . . But what’s changed is not variation in wealth. What’s changed is the ability to translate wealth into power.
How do you break the connection between wealth and power? Demand transparency. Watch closely how power is exercised, and demand an account of how decisions are made. Why aren’t all police interrogations videotaped? . . . Why don’t government officials disclose more about their finances, and why only during their term of office?
A friend of mine who knows a lot about computer security says the single most important step is to log everything. Back when he was a kid trying to break into computers, what worried him most was the idea of leaving a trail. He was more inconvenienced by the need to avoid that than by any obstacle deliberately put in his path.
Like all illicit connections, the connection between wealth and power flourishes in secret. Expose all transactions, and you will greatly reduce it. Log everything. That’s a strategy that …doesn’t have the side effect of making your whole country poor.
Now, consider those thoughts and hold them in mind while I introduce the intermediary connecting Gordon Campbell and his puppet masters. Martyn Brown was the only witness in the opening weeks of the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial. Experienced pol and blogger Ian Reid wrote this about him:
Brown, as you may know is the Rip Van Winkle of BC politics and can’t remember much about what’s happened in BC since 2001. His default answer to everything Basi/Virk is “I don’t recall.”
Brown’s forgetfulness and paucity of personal records is by carefully considered design and the purpose relates to the same fear that bothered Paul Graham’s young computer hacker friend:
What worried him most was the idea of leaving a trail.
Indeed, government of British Columbia is all about secret connections and one hand washing another, in private. Do you suppose for a moment that Martyn Brown functioned as Campbell’s consigliere for years with a non-functioning memory? Do you suppose that Justice Anne MacKenzie believed Brown’s lack of memory was anything but considered? The truth is that to manage without diaries and files requires an extraordinary memory.
BC Liberals are drawing more and more public business behind closed doors. Private negotiations replace open tenders. Public private partnerships hide information for “competitive reasons” and publicly owned private corporations shield major transactions from review. Trade councils and intermediaries controlled by government have been established to keep business out of the public sector. Crown corporations such as BC Hydro are made to follow government direction but allowed to hide contracts that commit citizens to pay tens of billions of dollars in future payments.
I could go on but the idea is clear. Again, I repeat that Campbell promised open and transparent government but he has given us the opposite. Liberal members of the legislature are frightened to speak out, they merely nod their heads and speak the words written for them by the leader’s minions. Media pals, knowledgeable about ethical defects, close their eyes and write about other things. Some of them don’t even hold their noses as they churn out pap punditry.