Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Ponzie Scheme Writ Large

All supposedly democratically elected governments do it. They take money from their citizens and then in the lead-up to elections dole bits of it back to them in an attempt to curry favour and appear benevolent.

Thaksin Shinawatra, the PM of Thailand, has taken this to absurd extremes. The name of the government instituted scheme to help alleviate some of the rural poverty is called (when translated into English) the "Cash Handout Plan." In addition to the millions of baht given to each rural village administrative council to do with it as they see fit, Thaksin was personally handing out some of his own cash to deserving individuals this past weekend in a tour of the countryside.

He was rewarded with the photo-ops he was after and as usual avoided questions regarding whether the government largesse was possible because of the massive sell-off of publicly owned assets and the fact that many of the rural poor still earn 100 baht (about US $2.50) a day picking rice.

While the brazenness of the tactics are almost laughable it reminded me of something a self-help guru (Robert J. Ringer) wrote years ago and though he was speaking about business it can easily be extrapolated to include politicians.

He posited that there are essentially 3 types of people you can do business with:

1. Those who are up front and say they will do their damnedest to get the best of you in any type of dealings you may have together.

2. Those who claim they only have your best interest at heart but of course have every intention of doing everything to screw you the same as no.1.

3. The most self-delusional type who states he will try to be completely fair and convinces himself that he truly believes this, but well, the situation and developments just forced him to end up having to rip you off in the end.

So which one would you rather do business with and by extension, which type of government would you prefer?