Editorial, A nation that’s annoyed at the moment

You know the type — they’re interesting in ONE THING. Which one this is and why they insinuate that isn’t specified. We will see lots of unspecified to downright maliciously false stuff about candidates between now and Election Day. Still, for most incumbents there are nasty things that can be truthfully said. In any case, watch your wallet and don’t let any of these types bite your neck. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Out of sorts, into a new year

Regret, recrimination, disrespect, cries for revenge, unflattering characterizations deserved and contrived. Mother Nature and the accounting ledgers are not especially favorable for Panama at the moment, so it’s natural that we look for people to blame. Heroes are in short supply, and anyone in politics who has not discredited himself or herself is being ferociously attacked from more than one side. We’re going into an angry campaign season.

We won’t be electing a saint to be president next May. Nor a rightly guided prophet, no matter the religious faith.

Neither will Satan be on the ballot, although plenty of bad actors will be.

A sorting process that separates and excludes those responsible for mismanaging Panama into the present debt crisis is in order. The hierarchy of blame should be about modi operandi. Did someone just cast a vote among unpleasant choices presented, or did he or she play the political patronage games? Did someone put his or her campaign staff on the payroll as legislative aides, or go way beyond that and put a crowd of relatives in government jobs? Is somebody sending out operatives right now to offer people material incentives in exchange for votes? Are those incentives that the streets and drains of their neighborhoods will be renovated, or are they groceries, toaster ovens or cash?

Who started it is beside the point. There is a way of life to be voted out this year.

And then there is the mining contract, a series of transactions since 1997 with shady characters all along the way, in violation of clear constitutional strictures from the start, but eventually getting to the point that the selling of a large part of Panama as a foreign-owned mining colony was proffered as the “solution” to a debt crisis that politicians created. Those who were for that benighted project protest too much if they wail about being called vendepatrias – they absolutely were proposing to sell part of Panama.

The aggravating circumstances have included the threats – retirees would not get pensions owed to them if this illegal mining contract didn’t get through. More recently it has degenerated to one of the architects of that scam threatening a coup d’etat and all the violence that goes with that. He retracted his words but we know the habits of bullying and the sense of entitlement behind statements like that. And a legislature’s “public hearings” at which almost all of the seats were reserved for company employees? We know the contempt for democracy, transparency and the right to be heard inherent in that stuff.

In October and November the nation – from a ragtag but rapidly growing groups of activists, to major labor unions with their own special grievances, to impoverished and marginalized indigenous communities, to fishers who stand to lose their way of life to toxic pollution, to the unanimous plenum of the Supreme Court of Justice, declared what we would not accept. The nation chose wisely and ought to persevere in those convictions through this May’s elections and beyond.

To sort out the remaining options once the vendepatrias are sorted out? We should be talking about what Panama absolutely needs, what sort of country we want and who might be best able to accomplish those things.

Hillel the Elder depicted in the Knesset Menorah in Jerusalem. Wikimedia photo by Gerd Eichmann.

Whatever is hateful and distasteful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary. Go learn.

Hillel The Elder

Bear in mind…

Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.

Nora Ephron

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it – always.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.

Bertrand Russell


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