Intellectual Dishonesty a necessity to Govern?

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.” – Bertrand Russell, British philosopher.

A New York attorney who contested for the US Senate in New York, in 2012 is quoted as saying the following and of course lost with the largest margin. It appears that you cannot tell the truth and expect to win even in a proper democracy! But the quote rings a bell in our heads far far away in Sri Lanka. “Public officials insult our intelligence and our goodwill when they paint rosy pictures about budgets, jobs, bipartisanship, and transparency, and alter their positions on issues simply to keep collecting their paycheck by never disagreeing or disappointing anyone.”- Wendy E Long

People complain about the utterances of public officials and say “does he really understand what he’s saying.” When the exchange rate depreciates they’ll say you’ll get more for a dollar received from abroad and if it appreciates they’ll say you can buy more dollars for the rupee. When the rating agency downgrades the country they’ll go on the offensive and say the economy is in good shape due to the wonderful policies in place, etc, etc and on a political platform condemn the state of the economy, the debt burden of the country, etc due to bad policies of the previous regime. This behavior has crept into the corporate culture and business executives are also spinning tales to explain their incompetence and earn bonuses which should not have been paid in the first place.

Though dishonest business people follow the above path, there are many others following the right path. It is better to follow the Starbucks chairman and CEO, who says: “I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.”- Howard Schultz

A good example of this is reflected in the following news item:
“Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, saying his country must break out of a debt trap, announced a rise in value added tax (VAT) and said the government will impose a capital gains tax.”

The government requires a $1.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to boost foreign exchange reserves and avert balance of payment problems. The government has to implement some of these bitter policy changes to convince the IMF. This is the true situation and many intellectuals who agree with this may act dishonesty due to their political affiliations. It’s of no use burying your head in the sand like an ostrich and procrastinating. It is time that the media educates the populace in an independent manner to reduce people being misinformed by politicians. Let honesty and transparent policies be rewarded for the country’s sake. Let somebody prove that intellectual dishonesty is not a necessity.

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About surenraj

“Views expressed are my own”
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