They were saying on the BBC News (UK TV) yesterday morning that the US has 'lost' its Triple-A credit rating. I wondered what they meant, 'lost' it. That sort of thing doesn't just drop out your hip pocket.
When I was a boy, if I went home to my Mum saying I'd lost something, she'd ask, "Where did you leave it? When did you last see it? Think back! What were you doing at the time?"
"A couple of big boys said they'd look after it for me, and then they started playing Pig-in-the-Middle with me."
"They keep throwing it over my head, and telling me to jump higher."
"Why didn't you report it to teacher?"
"Where is it now? Do they still have it?"
"Yes, they say I can have it back, if I give them my dinner money every day until - forever."
"That's extortion!" "You haven't lost it! They stole it!
I agree with Mum. I think there's a difference between losing something and extortion, and I think we ought to take account of that before we chastise ourselves or let anyone else tell us that that's what we ought to do.
Besides, if we let people take something from us because they said they would do the right thing and that it was the 'only way', and we trusted them, our wisdom might be in question, but not necessarily our honesty. If they say we must jump higher, or they'll give it to those who can jump higher than we can, we might be unwise to go along with a game that neither our competitors nor we can possibly win. Maybe we should've known that they were beyond the pale - but that doesn't make us responsible for their behaviour. However, we do have a responsibility to learn from the experience and to do our utmost to redress the situation for the benefit of future generations and out of respect for previous generations who struggled so hard, to benefit us.
UK politician Tony Benn spoke the following words in The House of Commons in the early 90s. He was one of the few who never sold out on his principles, even after the majority of his colleagues and party members in the UK Parliamentary Labour Party did, abandoning much of the founding principles - just to ingratiate themselves with an unelected clique, who held the strings to their puppet power:
"These are assets built up by the labour of those who work in (electricity) and by the tax payer who put the equipment in. Now to be auctioned off at half their price, to make a profit, for a tax cut for the rich, before the next election comes. If these were local councillors, they would be before the courts for wilful misconduct. And because they are ministers and then some of them later go on the boards of the companies they've privatised, they are treated as businessmen who know better how to handle it as members of the Board of Directors than allegedly they did as ministers responsible."