Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not That Naive

I’ve always been too naive as far as I’m concerned. For instance, this story from the current issue of The Atlantic shocked me.

”The plan was to send (bank loan) officers to guest-speak at church-sponsored “wealth-building seminars” like the ones Bowler attended, and dazzle the participants with the possibility of a new house. They would tell pastors that for every person who took out a mortgage, $350 would be donated to the church, or to a charity of the parishioner’s choice. “They wouldn’t say, ‘Hey, Mr. Minister. We want to give your people a bunch of subprime loans,” Jacobson told me. “They would say, ‘Your congregants will be homeowners! They will be able to live the American dream!’” “

I don’t want to go down this particular rabbit hole (click here for those that do) but I want to demonstrate that I’m not the kind of guy that looks for the worst in people. I’ve heard of preachers preying on their flock, of course. I just never thought an industry that depends on trust would actively promote preachers preying on their flock. Yep, I’m naive. But not that naive.

Take a look at this strange story.

Cambodia confirms takeover of air traffic company

”The Cambodian government on Friday confirmed its temporary takeover of management of the country's air traffic control company after one of its Thai employees was arrested last week on a spying charge.“

”A CATS (Thai-owned Cambodia Traffic Air Services) employee, Siwarak Chutipong, was arrested last week for allegedly passing secret information about Thaksin's flight schedule to the Thai Embassy. Thaksin is a fugitive on a Thai corruption charge. “

I don’t know anything about the current situation in Cambodia or Thailand. I do know that a lot of sensitive information flows through an air traffic control system. And we’re not just talking national security or government. A lot of sensitive personal and business information goes through the system. Everything from guys cheating on their wives to multi-billion-dollar-business deals. The guys in the Tower with the binoculars can see the leggy blonde getting in the Bonanza. The Center guys know that MegaCorp’s jet has made several trips to the Middle-of-Nowhere, Georgia and today, Developers-R-Us followed them in there.

I’m happy to report to you that never -- not once -- in my 25 year career was I offered a bribe for information like this. I suspect it’s because a lot of people wouldn’t know to ask. But still, it’s nice to know that if there is any corruption like this, it isn’t obvious.

Show of hands: How many think this would be the case if a private company was running the air traffic control system ? (See the $350 dollar “donations” above.)

And make no mistake about it. The potential exists. But in government hands, there is a system of checks and balances. It works. Even if it is political. Remember this ?

”The Texas Department of Public Safety has destroyed all the records, but the feds have copies. And they have tapes. Lots of tapes. Together, the records and tapes could become the basis of a federal investigation into whether the speaker of the Texas House and the Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives illegally pulled strings in Washington to track down a single Piper Cheyenne for political - not national security - purposes. “.

Back then “...the Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives “ would have been none other than Tom (aka “The Hammer”) Delay. The way a mention of Tom Delay’s name stirs my heart is second only to a mention of Newt Gingrich’s name. Anybody remember the party with “Hookers and Blow” -- and a guest appearance by John Mica? Hey, didn’t we just hear Congressman Mica’s name ? Yeah...we did. Ahhhhh, the good-old-days when the Republican Party elite were corrupting our government, religion and finances all at the same time.

Don Brown
November 21, 2009

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