RANIL in CLOUD-CUCKOO LAND
Posted on June 24th, 2016

 Gamini Seneviratne

This note takes a brief look at Ranil Wickremesinghe’s notions of economic growth and how to get there. I doubt he much understands how   such growth” is obtained or measured and, most certainly, no idea at all that typically it would have further negative impacts on the capacity of the people to merely survive from day to day.

Ranil has bragged that the commandments he has received have come from such deities as Christine Lagarde, MD of the IM F, and from  economists such as George Soros, Josepf Stiglitz and Ricardo Hausmann”. He has listened to their advice”.

As I spelt out ten years ago in All in the Family”, a demonstration of the symbiotic connection between corporate capitalism and the IMF and its side-kicks the IBRD, ADB et al, they have, necessarily, acted in concert with  the ‘leaders’ of supposedly sovereign governments whose treason towards the people they supposedly represent could be depended on.

Despite backing by Germany and EU states long practiced in exploiting countries and peoples, Lagarde’s efforts to bring Greece to heel did not quite succeed thanks to the will of the Greek people and of their leadership. Soros, a 85 year old financier, continues to dream of imposing western corporate capitalism, a.k.a. Democracy, on Russia. Stiglitz, an old hand at the IBRD, has an extended record of serving as a key Advisor to US administrations. Hausmann performed yeoman service in Venezuela for Democracy before Hugo Chavez yanked him and his like out; he has since become a respected Economist at Harvard, naturally.

They have met at Davos (which as has been surmised was where Ali Baba and his thieves had their cave). It has come under attack by placard-waving protestors – all ‘misguided’ of course in the lexicon Ranil’s been furnished with. His recruitment to that gang, in whatever capacity, had been renewed.

They had told him about the current global economic crisis”. That crisis, obviously quite unbeknown to him, has to do with corporate capitalism and has many related features. Those include the trashing of this planet, the imposition of poverty everywhere including the USA (which has achieved the further distinction of depriving its people of education, health care, and every vestige of freedom), and the transfer of resources, as of the wealth created by other hands, to robbers who would be barons (and are ‘elevated’ to what is laughingly referred to as the ‘peerage’ by Tony Blair, David Cameron et al). The USA has kept moving on and now boasts a candidate for President who is a self-confessed cheat on taxes due to the State and another who has failed to conceal the huge bribes she has received from ‘Wall Street’and her lust for the wealth of Iraq.  In another, perhaps related strand of the man’s thinking, Ranil would have been a welcome acolyte of Hitle’rs minions.

The global crisis has surfaced now in the client administrations controlled by the IMF and its corporate associates being challenged by internal forces. Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders have exposed the charade of Democracy as of Economic Imperatives in the UK and the USA. The ‘Right to Information’ being strictly for the ‘Mainstream’ corporate media we are witness to the convolutions it finds itself compelled to undertake in the face of this ‘crisis’.

An early manifestation of his ‘learning’ is the imposition of a Value Added Tax – and of his justification for it. The separate levels of VAT, some 8% and 12% were inconvenient he said; So he ‘rounded’ them off (upwards!) to 15%. A further ‘reason’, he argued, was that direct taxes (such as Income tax and Company tax) did not yield as much as VAT. The reasons for that of course are the existence of tax exemptions for every element of looting and the failure of the government mechanisms for collecting even what is due. Can he assure us that the VAT rigorously collected from consumers is in fact remitted to the Treasury?

Ranil and his advisors would do well to read ‘The Political Economy of Underdevelopment’ by Dr. S B D de Silva. It has been reprinted recently by Routledge & Kegan Paul in paperback as well. It would help them understand what ‘economics’ and human society are about.

Over the last year Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has been saying and doing several things none of which this government has the people’s mandate for. He has sought to back his actions up by threatening those who would oppose them.

He has, as news reports put it, read the riot act” to MPs demanding their support: he holds files” documenting whatever criminal acts, financial or otherwise, they have been engaged in. Sound familiar? Rajapakse did that and stuffed his Cabinets with the provably corrupt in the UNP.

What is most pertinent and/or impertinent is his assumption that the gathering of charlatans by the Diyawanna represent the people. They are no more competent to commit the country to such agreements as Ranil seeks to make than they are to draft a Constitution. It is obvious that such proposals must seek and obtain the people’s consent via a Referendum.

Well, our people have become accustomed to the corruption, often truly criminal, in what are called law enforcement agencies. They have seen the distinctions possible in the application of what Ranil calls due process” to drug dealers, terrorists, other murderers and the like.  In whatever lexicon he employs, it does not apply to university students, monks, trade unionists, farmers or to groups of civil society at large. Water cannon, tear gas, batons and even the mechanisms of a corrupt judiciary provide the proper answer to whatever they have to say. In a recent book on the killing of Wijedasa Liyanarachchi, there is mention of the torture chambers in ‘the Kelaniya police division’. Is it now proposed to revive such judicial procedures or would there be a quantum leap to the American practice of ‘water-boarding’?

Well he has reason to be grateful to his mentor: Mahinda Rajapakse had exerted himself to protect Ranil’s status as Leaderof a UNP which he proceeded to emasculate. His gratitude was made evident in his assertion that any action against all that fraud and looting be subjected to due process” in the paws of law enforcement agencies that had for many years been sort of pocketed by the administration which the people had voted out. He has even declared that he received the benediction of Mahinda Rajapakse, on his departure from Temple Trees to ‘take over the government’.

There are other contenders of course but I doubt anybody would dispute that Ranil Wickremesinghe is the President, Prime Minister, Policy Maker and club-wielder of choice for those who would like to carve up this country and loot her resources not least of which is her culture with its unique Sinhala Buddhist heritage. The foundation of our systems of living has always been our agriculture, not the ‘export’ variety that continues to cripple the highlands and water-flow but that has to do with food production for our people.

All his proposals are to be executed, if permitted, in the name of ‘market efficiency’.

In his endeavour on that behalf Ranil has picked the right persons: R Paskaralingam, who, under President Premadasa, played a determining role in trashing our agricultural extension services, sabotaged the offer made by Dr. Kurien, the prime mover of the ‘white revolution’ across India, to help develop the dairy industry here. During  Ranil’s last spell Paskaralingam attempted to dismantle the infrastructure built around the Mahaweli project. He has been brought back as a key figure among Ranil’s ‘Senior Advisers’. He has much experience in what it would take to carve up and sell off to ‘the private sector’, mostly Indian, our land and water.

Another is Arjuna Mahendran who should be in jail without the option (he has, in New Delhi, offered access to our systems of micro-finance to ‘foreign enterprise’). Eran Wickremaratne, who salivates over the prospect of handing over State owned enterprises to private firms at give-away prices, Malik Samarawickrema, his handmaiden or whatever who represents nobody but Ranil, R. Paskaralingam, who, under President Premadasa, played a determining role in trashing our agricultural extension services and sabotaged the offer made by Dr. Kurien to help develop the dairy industry here. During  Ranil’s last spell the man attempted to dismantle the infrastructure built around the Mahaweli project – and has now been brought back as a key figure among Ranil’s ‘Senior Advisers’. He has much experience in what it would take to carve up and sell off to ‘the private sector’, mostly Indian, our land and water.

Ranil needs to return to basics.

At the Census of 1911, E. J. Denham reported that ”there were 2000 natives of Ceylon who are unable to read and write their own language, but yet can read and write English”. He noted further that 1700 of them are Low Country Sinhalese and belong to the wealthier classes”.

Ranil’s paternal grandfather, C L Wickremasinghe, the first Ceylonese to be appointed a Government Agent under the colonial administration, would undoubtedly have been among the 2000 but he was not among those unable to read and write in Sinhala. As Government Agent in the North Central Province he obtained from the Village Headmen and Vel Vidanes accounts (in Sinhala) of traditional agricultural (a.k.a. farming) practices in the Nuvara Kalaviya. He placed those responses, founded in what may be termed ‘oral history’, in the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch. Three of those five large volumes are yet in its custody and a selection of those accounts was made and put into English by D E Hettiarachchi, the Professor of Sinhala at our University. That book is now hard to come by. The RAS, which was a joint publisher of that work, no longer has a copy of that book but Gunadasa Amarasekera is said to have a copy that was presented to him by Ranil’s uncle, the Rev. Lakshman Wickremasinghe. It would be fruitful for Ranil to obtain a copy – his father would have had one – and so to resume his education on this country and her people.

His father, Esmond, acquired some notoriety over his role in ‘defending Press Freedom’ in 1964, but he possessed a sense of patriotism that also led him to realize the need for a national press agency. When he decided to launch ‘Lanka Puvath’ in 1978 and invited me to commence work on it he explained at some length his view of the need to free ourselves of the biased, one-track reporting that emanated from the self-styled ‘main-stream media’. He wished to have the country heard in her own voice.

It is clear that his parent’s culture, Buddhist and Anglican, have passed him by.

I shall conclude this note with a thought from the Analects of Confucius: The Duke Ai asked, What should be done to secure the submission of the people?” Confucius replied, Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit.” Ranil should learn from recent history = a lesson that, say, would put paid to Ranil’s selectees beginning with Arjuna Mahendran  and applies to Mahinda Rajapakse and his cronies who are yet thrashing around in their efforts not to learn.

 

8 Responses to “ RANIL in CLOUD-CUCKOO LAND”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Mr. Seneviratne, I agree with you that Capitalism does not work. I also agree with you regarding Ranil Wickremasinghe.
    There are many top economists who have written on the topic. One of the most outspoken has been Dr. Richard Wolf. His famous talk Capitalism hits the fan is given below. His solution for capitalism is to have democracy in the work place. The Mondragon Corporation in Spain is actually a large number of Co-operatives under the umbrella of Mondragon. This was set up with the blessings of the Catholic Church. In USA there are many companies which are run as co-operatives where the employees participate in the decision making of the company affairs by being on the board. In Germany which has been very successful any company with over 2000 employees have to have at least 50% of employees on the board. This is why unlike USA Germany is very successful. In 2008 when the recession hit many companies in USA laid off people in millions. In Germany the Govt informed the companies not to lay off any one. They suggested that they can reduce the number of hours of employees but keep all employed. In return the German Govt paid the wages of the companies who had reduced the number of hours of employees so that no one lost any money. The net result was that the people had money in the pocket and were spending it thereby keeping the economy rolling. They hardly felt the recession unlike the stupid USA.

    Please watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZU3wfjtIJY ( Capitalism Hits the Fan – Richard Wolff)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WhZXhRS3F4 ( Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece with Richard Wolff and Barry Herman | The New School)

    Background of Dr. Richard Wolf.
    Academic positions
    Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.

    Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne).

    Education
    BA in History from Harvard College (1963);
    MA in Economics from Stanford University (1964);
    MA in History from Yale University (1967); and a
    PhD in Economics from Yale University (1969)

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    Ranil is only a puppet on a string dancing to the tune of its master the US. He is walking like a zombie making meaningless statements and resorting to bullying in order to promote the US agenda for Sri Lanka. It will be futile to expect anything else from him. While he was in US some years ago he was schooled in the modus operandi of regime change. This is what he executed with other traitors of Sri Lanka in Jan 2015. Only other influence that he has in life is that of the Christian / Catholic Church and their gay ways.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    I myself have advocated the formation of worker owned and managed businesses as a solution to the ills of capitalism we see today.

    Richard Wolf makes a convincing case, and I want to make the following points:

    1. This talk refers to the economic crisis that prevailed in the USA about 6 years ago at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency. The steps taken under Obama to resolve those problems created during Bush’s Presidency largely worked in stabilizing the economy, but did not really address the structural ills that continue to bedevil the US economy creating a nation of haves and have-nots. The latter long-term structural problem is the focus of Wolf’s talk.

    2. I do agree the confrontational unbalanced relationship between employees and employers is one of the main issues responsible for the growth of structural problems. This is exacerbated by the rich taking hold of the political reins of the country through a political elite they hoist on the voters through their almost complete control of the media and the lobbies that influence Congress. In allowing unlimited funds to invade politics through third party political action committees, the Supreme Court has dismantled the safeguards previously in place against buying elections, and abdicated it’s role of protecting the Constitutional Rights of common people to shape the nation to their liking.

    3. Finally, given that pure “communist” systems (eg. Soviet Union, China, Cuba and elsewhere) have failed disastrously to deliver a good life to their people, it is by no means clear that the COMMUNAL model advocacated by Richard Wolf would solve the problems of the Capitalist system and ushet in Nirvana.

    4. Therefore, I prefer the HYBRID MODEL giving people (workers, consumers and investors) to choose between the CAPITALIST and COOPERATIVE MODELS of doing business, with the Government providing INCENTIVES to COOPERATIVES through low interest loans, taxation and favorable labor laws ….. in the NATIONAL INTEREST.

    5. Indeed, there are many cooperative model businesses in the USA including the high-end Alleghney Steel company in Pittsburg, PA. This company was on the verge of going bankrupt when it was bought by its employees.Today this employee owned and employee managed American company is a highly successful specialty steel manufacturer, and it does so without outsourcing, without firing employees, and investing in the skills of its employees and a high level of state-of-the-art automation.

    As Gamini Seneviratne points out, a large fraction of the businesses in Germany are employee owned, as are many companies in Switzerland.

    6. Sri Lanka should adopt this DUAL HYBRID APPROACH to business, consistent with our BUDDHIST MIDDLE PATH mindset, giving our people the freedom of choice to go either way.

    However, since COOPERATIVES are usually formed by have-nots who are a majority of our people, the GOSL should allocate a SIGNIFICANTLY LARGE BUDGET to give low interest loans and tax incentives to entrepreneurial cooperatives.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Among my reasons for not totally supporting the COOPERATIVE MODEL advocated by Richard Wolf is that Altough it sounds great in THEORY it has serious DEFECTS in practice because it ignores some KEY human characteristics.

    ALL human beings dont have the same ABILITIES and TEMPERAMENT. If we create a system in which we yoke the best people in a group or business to the worst people, we will get AVERAGE PERFORMANCE from group as a whole. We will frustrate the best people and undeservedly reward the poor performers. In socialist theory we have to treat everyone equally even the laziest non- performers. The superior productivity of the outstanding people gets them no benefit, and the results of their efforts are diluted by distribution over the entire group, which only discourages the best workers.

    This is why the best workers quit working in such places and startup their own businesses. When they create businesses they usually AVOID the COOPERATIVE MODEL and adopt the CAPITALIST owners/workers model using cash and share bonuses to motivate the good performers.

    I am one such entrepreneur who took early retirement to crratd my own company and gain the necessary freedom of action and control over my business. I would hate to have my freedom of action constrained by the COOPERATIVE MODEL.

    Therefore, I advocate both types of business models in the hope that both types can serve different types of people and perhaps evolve a more nearly ideal hybrid model that would work not only in theory but also in practice for the greater good of the many.

  5. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Traitor chief pol pot ponil wickramasinhalakiller is the biggest traitor ever in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately for
    the Sinhalese, Sri Lanka and Buddhism, he is not finished yet. He knows he has to destroy Buddhism, Sinhalese
    and Sri Lanka for good this around to please the minorities (tamils, mussies and catholics who are his darlings)
    and the catholic west.

    Born to a staunch christian family, he became a token Buddhist. This gave the real cover to do his clandestine
    acts easily hoodwinking a lot Sinhalese Buddhists. Even the guardians of Buddhism, thibbote, became his
    supporters. No wonder we are called Sinhala modayas. His treachery knows no limits. He killed Buddhist
    jvpers in Batalanda camp with his catholic buddy policemen. No punishment. He grassed millennium city
    intelligent to the catholic tigers of tamil drealam to please/expedite catholic buddy hitler pira(mala)paharan’s
    separate country. He even gave half of the country his catholic buddy pira(mala)paharan. Norway, uk, us, etc.
    etc. were fully committed to drealam project. I wonder why? Nothing do with it was catholic drealam project
    of course! Even archbishop 2 three of south africa supported. Still Sinhala modayas couldn’t put two and two
    together. Cb robbed of 5000 billion with his catholic buddy maha horandran. No punishment. So he knows he is
    untouchable.

    This time around his plans to destroy Sri Lanka for good. So unitary state going. Buddhism already gone from
    schools. Now Buddhism going from the new constitution. National flag going. Lion going. Sinhalese, Buddhism and
    Sri Lanka also going. Going to oblivion. His project is nearing complete. Minorities are over the moon. West is
    over the moon. Sinhala modayas? They are being modayas have no clue! They are like the crab in the boiling
    pot. Sinhala modayas of course. Traitor chief pol pot ponil wickramasinhalakiller also over the moon.

  6. Cerberus Says:

    Ananda, I am sorry – I should have been clearer. I do not propose ONLY co-operatives. I think a collection of different types of private companies is fine. So long as the companies are small and medium size, there is no danger to the country. The danger is from large Corporations. Once they become big as in USA, they pretty much take over the entire political process and democracy. What passes for democracy in USA is not so, at present. They also use voting machines run by private companies which can be hacked easily in 5 minutes. That is why in UK and Europe they still depend on paper ballots which are counted by hand in the presence of two or three representatives from each party. In USA as is well known the elections were cheated twice earlier when Al Gore and John Kerry ran for the Presidency. Even this time in California 2 million votes were not counted since Bernie was very popular in California.

    In USA they have anti-trust and other laws to control Corporations. However in spite of it they influence Congress, Senate and President’s to do their bidding. The high lead content in the drinking water supply in Flint, Michigan, is a case in point. Lead and other heavy metals cause brain and kidney damage. Another very major issues is the inability of the US Congress and Senate to pass any meaningful gun laws in spite of horrific slayings of people by insane persons and terrorists using assault rifles which can mow down a lot of people in a short time. The NRA (National Rifle Association) is a powerful lobby and some time ago was led by a Tamil who had good experience in lobbying with the US Congress and Senate. The supreme court is also ruled by the lobbies. The lobbies got Supreme court to pass the Citizens United which says money is same as free speech and allows unlimited donations to Political parties.

    In Sri Lanka they had a difficult time trying to pass anti smoking legislation since the Tobacco lobby was so powerful. Similarly for partially hydrogenated fats and trans fats which have been almost banned in USA, is still produced in Sri Lanka in large amounts since the companies which make the product are multinational companies who are so powerful. I know many people in Sri Lanka who died early in life due to heart attacks due to our predilection for “Love Cake” and other titbits from the bakers who use Margarine and shortening – fats bad for the heart and circulation. Mercury fillings are still accepted all over Sri Lanka. Mercury amalgams are highly poisonous to the nervous system and brain. Mercury is so toxic that it is not allowed in the land fills in USA. Other heavy metals such as Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead etc. are also very toxic to the human body.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Cerburus,

    I knew that you did not propose having only one system, but my comments were directed at Richard Wolf’s thesis described in his video. He heavily favors the Cooperative Model of business. I also recognize that large corporations end up as monopolies and entities that attempt to capture and bend the political system of the nation to their will ….. as has happened in the United States.

    As I said, the COOPERATIVE MODEL, just like communism, sounds perfect in THEORY, but not in PRACTICE. Social field experiments have shown that if you INITIALLY give EQUAL resources to each member of a group of individuals, all other things in the socio-economic environment being equal, the DISTRIBUTION of wealth and resources among the individuals quickly becomes HIGHLY NON-UNIFORM with most of it ending up ends in the hands of the smartest hardest working people in the group with the others dependent on those few for their survival.

    This EVOLUTION is due the DIFFERENCES in the personal characteristics of the members of the group like ABILITY and TEMPERAMENT….. DIFFERENCES that will EXIST as long as we humans SURVIVE as a species.

    Often, it happens that the NON-UNIFORM distribution that has EMERGED is also the most EFFICIENT and PRODUCTIVE for the group as a whole thus benefiting the SURVIVAL of the group as a whole, PROVIDED that it remains STABLE and BENIGN and does not MALEVOLENTLY DESTROY and CONSUME the weakest most vulnerable people in the group.

    CLEARLY, we need both Chiefs and Indians for the TRIBE to survive as a socio-economic unit. Without the Indians the Chiefs cannot have a following, and without the Chiefs the Indians will not survive. The relationship is…. shall we say …. SYMBIOTIC! Accordingly, it is to the benefit of the entire group not to eradicate either its Chiefs or its Indians, but we must constrain the excess of all segments of the community. That is the ROLE of a Government instituted and supported by all of the people.

    Therefore, the question becomes: how do we organize an economic system to best EXPLOIT these differences in ABILITY and TEMPERAMENT between people, and REGULATE the system to ensure the SURVIVAL of ALL, and provide a “FAIR” ALLOCATION of the society’s wealth and resources,especially to the most ABLE and the least ABLE people? Since the least ABLE are most vulnerable they need more protection. This is the problem that humanity has been dealing with since the dawn of civilization, and the FAILURE to address it has led to INTERNECINE WARS and to REVOLUTIONS (eg. French, Russian and Chinese revolutions).

    A highly efficient soul-less robotic government that does not recognize and does not pay due regard to the humanity of people should not be admired. Let us recall that Nazi Germany was arguably the most EFFICIENT government yet devised, but the Nazi Reich designed to last a millenium destroyed itself in about a decade while the bungling, less efficient but more stable, British system survived to tell the tale.

    In socio-economics, as in the world of physics, a Heisenburg-like Uncertainty Principle seems to apply: EFFICIENCY is achieved at the expense of STABILITY, and the product of EFFICIENCY and STABILITY is an immutable CONSTANT! A corollary seems to be that Rulers should BEWARE of demanding EFFICIENCY at the expense of the STABILITY of their own rule!

    That is why I propose a HYBRID system following both the CAPITALIST/COMPETITIVE and SOCIALIST/COOPERATIVE models co-existing, interacting and evolving together in each other’s presence to survive either as distinct models, or as a single optimal hybrid model.

    The role of Government, guided by the will of ALL of the people, should be to ENSURE the survival of each segment of the economy by REGULATING EXCESSES through restrictions and incentives as and when required.

    This is to my BUDDHIST mindset, is one application of the tolerant and stable MIDDLE PATH advocated by the Lord Buddha himself, also enunciated by the ancient Greeks as “Pan Metron Ariston!” which means “In ALL things, MODERATION is best!”

  8. Cerberus Says:

    Ananda, In each country the situation and the psyche of the people is different. MR had the intuitive wisdom to know what is the right path to follow for Sri Lanka. He started programs such as the Divinaguma program which were grass roots programs to empower the people to develop the confidence in themselves after 500 year of colonization. Gota started the leadership training program for all graduates to instil leadership qualities in students. All that they started was shattered by our moronic Yahapalanaya group led by My3 and RW. These jokers are buying $400,000 cars for MPs, fighter jets from India, coal power plants. The problem that is facing all of mankind is climate change and extinction of the human race as a result. We should be investing in Solar power, wind generation plants, and protect the environment and our forest resources without letting Muslims come and occupy Wipattu and other reserves from Bangladesh, Maldives etc. We should be very protective of our coast line to protect from illegal immigrants from India and other countries. Now our people are languishing while the Tamils and Muslims are making making hay while the sun shines. I agree that we should practice Buddhist Economics, “Small is Beautiful” as per Schumacher. In the end truth wins and what happened to Cameron will also happen to this lot. Mark my words.

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