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Three Deaths - and You Can Take It With You

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 27, 2019 15:48

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A surprise death, an expected death, and a suspected death - what are we to make of them? There is a common thread, and it's the money. Follow the money, detectives say. In this case we may (perhaps, with luck) find surprising answers.

In the pre-dawn of Monday morning, a white Toyota Corolla sped into the approach road of Johannesburg airport going close to 100 mph in a 40 mph zone. With no CCTV coverage, the car smashed into a concrete pillar making no attempt to brake. The driver, safety belt neatly clipped behind him, died on the spot. Police found no cell phone, about $5, and identity documents of a wealthy and controversial 73-year-old businessman. Many questions remain, but he was in the spotlight for having parlayed his anti-apartheid credentials into a major supplier of services to the Government, and he was accused of having bribed Ministers and officials with bundles of cash.

Accident? Photo: Veli Nhlapo/Business Day

The curious death of Watson came amidst allegations that his company had lavished money on the internal campaign of Cyril Ramaphosa to push his candidature for the Presidency through the African National Congress’ internal machinery. Watson’s funding, not illegal in South African law, contributed to a massive warchest, though not as big as that of Ramaphosa’s unsuccessful rival. The money was lavished on meals, pamphlets, and t-shirts, but also the cash was handed to organizers in the opponent’s camp -- even people in the opposition EFF party. Most telling, though, is that it paid thousands of membership fees to allow members of the party to vote in the primaries. Now the ANC membership fee is ZAR 20 or about $1.30. And if people had to have it paid for them, you may wonder at their political commitment.

The sordid story of government corruption leads me to a death that was long expected: that of David Koch. What interests me is the economist behind Koch, James M. Buchanan. Buchanan, by all accounts, empowered the Koch empire, and he justified its use of financial muscle to influence legislation and political campaigns to serve the narrow interests of the people with money. Even more than Hans-Herman Hoppe Buchanan justified self-interest as prime political mover instead of altruism and the common good.
 
And this brings us to the third death -- that of democracy. If money has become the lifeblood of political systems, if political allegiance is bought and sold like cheap goods, and if political decisions are the privilege of the rich, then we are back in the dark ages where monarchs rule by divine right because they are chosen by a higher power and citizens are a tax-paying commodity.
 
My Dutch ancestors grew their small, muddy corner of Europe into a world-spanning trading empire based on their government by consent. The Dutch East Indies Company was one of the first companies owned by its shareholders.
 
If our modern society is to succeed the challenges of environmental change, resource scarcity, and rampant growth, it has to have the real -- not purchased -- consent of the participants. Is Brexit a ploy to cover up massive money laundering

It is said that Watson and Koch are probably now explaining their secrets before higher authority. 

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 27, 2019 15:48

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Source: WashPost

Police say an embattled South African businessman mired in corruption allegations died in a fatal car crash Monday in Johannesburg

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