In Italy the people of Genoa are mourning dozens dead as a result of a highway bridge collapse. These tragic events are likely to be the result of human failure, but until we have the diagnosis of a detailed review we cannot finally say.
However, we know that there have been complaints about the bridge in question, and we know that there are serious suspicions of Mafia involvement in dubiously fulfilled contracts in Italian construction projects.
Engineering capabilities today are phenomenal and many years of proven experience normally give us well constructed facilities. The problem tends to arise when greedy and selfish human beings corrupt the execution of such projects.
Weak construction is the result and tragedy the consequence.
It comes down to the commissioning process, and the individuals involved.
Representatives of the State commission and executives of big corporations negotiate the contracts.
Who is in charge of the commissioning process, and how are they conducting and overseeing the subsequent contract ?
Who are the people behind big corporates, how do they conduct themselves, what is their track record ?
We have seen a problem in the UK this year with the failure of Carillion. The State continued to give contracts to a Corporate which officials knew to be failing. The impact has been serious problems and delay for important public projects.
One part of the problem is the corporatist mentality in both State and Big Business.
On the one side State officials manifestly fail to see themselves as responsible to the taxpayer and consumer, while the on the other the provider sees only short term maximisation of profits to impress shareholders and boost their own salaries.
Both sides think and operate in their own bubble world of money, power and gain utterly divorced from the actual world where their short sighted and selfish actions have serious consequences.
At heart, then, this is a moral failure.
And that moral failure stems from a materialist view of the world which places personal material gain above all else.
The materialistic philosophy of today’s world is actively promoted by both Socialist minded politicians and Big Corporations.
It has displaced the traditional Christian ethical world view in Europe and in English speaking countries. And the essence of Christian teaching was this:
Love God and love others as yourself.
To love God is to obey Christian teaching. It is to believe that your motives are weighed by a higher power which will bring all you say and do to account.
To love others is to recognise and act for the true interests of your fellow man.
Today’s western, democratic Right however is being emasculated by the displacement of Christian ethics by the materialism fundamental to the Socialist and humanist thinking of the Left.
Instead of regard for others welfare, we witness corporate executives feeding in the trough of public money and getting away with manifestly criminal negligence.
The idea that this is the norm of free market capitalism is shallow and false.
It’s actually dodgy dealing by people who shirk the norms of common decency. Cosy corporate employees in both State and Big ‘Business’ who freely spend other people’s money, not their own.
In a free society, we expect to walk the streets without fear of molestation by bullies. In a free society this must be a given. And to protect our freedom we have police, courts and prisons. They are essential to ensure our liberty in life, limb and property.
[Of course, in some countries the police themselves become part of the problem when they are corrupt and in league with the criminals. Worse still is the police state where the police become an arm of social control by a political clique for ideological ends.]
The same applies in the economic sphere. Pertinent Laws and their policing must exist to ensure that the big bullies and the confidence tricksters of the market place do not get away with sharp practice. This is the legitimate role of the State.
The State fails in its proper mission, therefore, when it allows those who wield its power to do deals with dubious parties.
And that reflects a failure not just of proper independent oversight, but of true moral outlook.