Saturday, June 30, 2007

Heading in the Wrong Direction

Governments exist to deal with the complexity that arise from a large number of humans living together. When societies of people arise, the need for a structure for the provision of common goods and services and the need for a system whereby activities may be organized in order to benefit people also arises. Governments exist to serve this need. The primary purpose of a government is to serve the people by monitoring law and order so public and private goods and benefits are secure and the individual can continue to flourish in a societal setting. It can also expand to serve other needs such as providing common minimum standards, education, health and other such services as societies get more complex. The point still remains that governments exist to serve the individual and the society formed by individuals coming together. Governments do not exist for themselves and to flourish at the expense of the individual and the society. And yet, that is what governments across the world can be seen to do today and I am not talking only about the banana republics.

The Supreme Court of the US, always served as a crucial arbiter in the checks and balance system that reined in the powers of the government and in many cases protected the rights of the individual as enshrined in the constitution of the USA. During Bush Jr.'s administration two SC justices were appointed. This has resulted in the court definitively swinging towards the conservative end of the spectrum. Before this point, some justices were swingers on certain issues. Now on many of the issues that are central in the political arena, there is almost no swinging allowing the neo-conservatives to hold sway.

It is with a heavy heart that one watches the co-opting of this institution which in its recent decisions has become less an arbiter and more a tool of the ruling government. Individual rights have received some of the heaviest blows seen in decades at the expense of institutions of power. The government's "rights" have been protected at the expense of the individual. Freedom of speech, expectation of due process, equal rights- these are but some of the areas where the SC has dealt a severe blow to the individual and shamed itself by breaking with precedent and siding with the state and industry.

Any person who serves in the highest court in the land should be able set aside politics, to think for themselves and think back to the final authority- the Constitution. They should think about what it was the constitution enshrined and protected. If even the SC turns partisan, what hope is there for the people? An omnipotent government only serves itself, not the people.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Inevitable" Deaths in Immigration Custody

Over 60 human beings have died in immigration custody in the last couple of years. Immigration officials claim that some deaths are inevitable! Guantanamo already made it clear to us that human liberty and rights mean little to this administration. But to hear of the same callous disregard for life, in addition, only reiterates the erosion of democracy that this nation is and has been undergoing. Of course, the easy answer to this is that holding non-Americans and not treating them humanely, to the extent of participating in their untimely death, does not affect the democratic status of this country. However, I believe that no democratic nation state can flout its own principles of the dignity of human life and rights thereof.

We live in a time when the most developed nations have set the example of fighting for the rights of their citizens only. This is a shame. A citizen of the United States is in no way a more worthy human being than any other. Everyone is deserving of the same respect and rights. Some of those dead might not have been citizens but they were in many cases permanent residents. Permanent residency is the step before one is granted citizenship in this country. Having attended a ceremony where they spouted a few words and pledged allegiance to a flag would not have morphed these people into better human beings but in the eyes of this nation, it would have made them more deserving of a humane treatment.

Why is it that only those who were related to these people who died are crying and feeling the pain? We should all feel it. Is this too far-removed from you because you are an American? It shouldn't be because there, but for the grace of fate, go you.