Predators and Politics

Way back in pre-history, a ruler in the ancient land of Sumer found so much immoral activity being indulged in in his kingdom that he found it necessary to inject force into the kingdom’s state of affairs.  A public inscription was posted on a stele by order of the ruler named Urukagina (c.2600 BCE) which decreed adherence to and respect for personal freedom, equality, mutual respect and justice.  A few of the injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use by supervisors of their power to take the best things for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; and the practice of monopolistic groups to extort unbearable prices upon the vulnerable populace.  If this reminds you of corporate business practices indulged in throughout the world today—well, predatory traits in animal life persist.

Approximately 875 years later (c.1758 BCE) Hammurabi ascended the throne of Babylon, and he is most famous for his codification of contemporary Babylonian laws and edicts.  The extensive code which sought to protect the weak and the poor against injustices at the hands of the greedy and powerful was displayed on an engraved stele of black diorite nearly eight feet tall.  This codification is the earliest complete legal code known to history, and consisted of 282 paragraphs, which were alleged to have been issued directly to Hammurabi by the sun god Shamash.

Of interest to modern corporate-victimized societies, the code begins with direction for legal procedure and the statement of penalties for unjust claims, false testimony, and injustice done by judges.  Included with this were laws concerning property rights, loans, deposits, and debts, domestic property, and family rights.  Also of interest were the penalties imposed for injuries that patients sustained through unsuccessful operation; also payment for damages sustained by citizens through neglect in various trades were put in place.  The “conservatives” of today, at least in the USA, who have chipped away at all government fair-play restrictions will cringe at the code which fixed rates for various forms of service in most branches of trade and commerce.  And to the shock of the religious right of today who make every effort to inject their narrow  brand of “faith” into the government of widely diverse peoples, the Hammurabi code contained no law concerning religion.  In other words, the code was posed to protect the weak and the poor against injustices at the hand of the unscrupulous.

The weakness in the Code of Hammurabi is that many of the laws were based on the principle of equal retaliation—a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye type of justice.  This was also the concept of  justice in Hebrew-Judaic practice and is promoted in Old Testament tales.  That form of justice is strangely appealing today in light of the damages done by such outfits as British Petroleum, the let’s-start-a-war crowd, and the Wall Street shysters.

The majority of world governments today are at least moderately corrupt.  The prospect of ordinary citizens receiving just treatment in many of them is slim.  Once upon a time the USA was admired throughout the world as a nation that truly sought liberty, equality and justice for all, but greed has a way of sucking morality out of high ideals.  In the US the citizens have witnessed over the last few decades the slow and deliberate chipping away of regulatory laws so that corporations and big business could steal away more cash and political power.  So the government itself has been hijacked and is overrun with politicians contaminated with greed.  To illustrate, citizens in the US today actually pay over 40 different taxes to financially support what has been perverted into a notoriously unproductive bureaucratic government.  The so-called “representatives” of the citizens thus received at least twice the pay than what the genuinely productive private sector receives.  As if this was not evil enough, as of January 1, 2010 an enormous amount of new laws and regulations went into effect across the nation which give those unproductive bureaucrats even broader control over those of us who pay their salaries!  It is organized theft, pure and simple.  Worse, it is another step closer to destroying true democracy.

The injustices that Urukagina and Hammurabi found so dishonorable in their prehistory societies thousands of years ago have been far surpassed by today’s variety of predators.  Big Oil, Big Pharmacy, Big Finance, etc. all function as gangster operations.  Oil is a prime example, but until recently less known have been the tactics of large Wall Street investment banks.  Goldman Sachs, for example, pilots the idea of loaning cash-strapped states huge sums of money for leasing public highways from those states.  The catch—and it’s a doozie—the highways would then be converted into toll-ways, and travelers would have to shell out up to 75 cents a mile to use them.  Idle rumor?  The Texas state Republican governor, Perry, is a big supporter of the rip-off scheme.  And if this corrupt notion flies in Texas, bureaucrats in other states will soon be howling to jump on the gravy boat too. 

All this tends to prove that history does indeed repeat itself.  But history has shown also that runaway greed always winds up devouring itself.  Unfortunately, the immorality that the greedy ones perpetuate lives on after them.

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