It’s all about the money

The phrase ‘Money makes the world go round’ is used several times, but its meaning is often underestimated. Little to do we contemplate, that the role that money plays in the world today is more effective than we think, as it ends up having a direct impact on the fabric of society and the foundations which support it. Because of this, most people end up considering money to be the most important factor of their lives, that everything happening around them is irrelevant, and that there isn’t more to life than money and that it’s what their world revolves around.

When we sit down and think, how can we really measure a society by its principles and its values? Is it any good to asses it by the life its citizens live, and how prosperous and successful their country is? Can we measure the stability of a society by its economic growth, its employment rate, and whether it operates on a surplus or a deficit? Or can we instead look at what results these factors are yielding, and whether they are producing the desired outcome intended from them? After all these considerations, one must just wonder about the deficit of their country, not their financial one, but their moral one, for it is a window to see where the conscience of a country lies. The moral fabric of a country shows what its country really cares about, and what it will applaud, what it will be shocked by, but also what it will ignore. Look at our own country of Malta, and one can go on an endless rant about the infuriating qualities of Maltese society, and there are only so many that they warrant their own article. However, when one examines the composition of the traits which characterise us as a people, one is mortified to see where our priorities lie, what they hold to a high standard and what they simply couldn’t care any less about. Take what happened a year ago, when investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb, and a debate on a national scale has ensued since then.

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Agree or disagree with how she went about carrying out her profession and what she exercised to do her job, one must recognise the magnitude of such an event, especially when it’s the barbaric murder of a journalist in what is meant to be a democratic country, where the role which the media has to play as the fourth estate is meant to be respected. While it has been a very divisive issue, with two sides to this debate, some ranging from the ordinary people taking down posters and covering up public art, to high ranking figures in the government, just act like as if nothing happened, pretend like as if what happened wasn’t as important as it really is, and just try to remove any material commemorating the event and move on. More attention will then be given to the economic surplus which Malta has managed to achieve and to its economic success, as opposed to the murder of a journalist, the destruction of our environment, or to corruption taking place at all levels in our country. As a people, many use the phrase “poplu tal-but” (people of the pocket) to describe the Maltese people.  This phrase is coined as a result of how the Maltese only seem to care about what happens in their country in so far as it effects them directly and personally (e.g. pensions, salaries, taxes) with anything external or broad being given no due consideration.

A different, but somewhat similar situation to that of Malta unfolded only recently in the aftermath of the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was strangled, dismembered and had is body disposed of when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on the 2nd of October of this year. The Saudi government were quick to state that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, denying any involvement in his disappearance and murder amidst mounting pressure culminating in the international community refuting Saudi Arabia’s denial. As Turkey kept on insisting that Khashoggi never left the consulate alive, an inspection of the consulate which took place on the 15th of October, found that evidence of the killing had been tampered with, leading to the Saudi government to changing its position on not having been involved, and stating instead that Khashoggi died inside the consulate, after being strangled following an argument and a fistfight. This version of events seemed extremely unlikely given Khashoggi’s peaceful nature which was reiterated by his family, and their suspicions were confirmed even more investigations produced more evidence to prove that the murder was premeditated. On the 31st of October, the Turkish prosecutor in the case released a statement confirming that Khashoggi had been strangled, dismembered and had his body disposed of. Turkish officials subsequently released an audio recording affirming the alleged involvement of the Saudi royal family, which was eventually analysed by the CIA and concluded that the killing had been ordered by Saudi Crown Price, Mohammed Bin Salman.

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All of this should have seemed obvious from the start of this series of events, and many had gotten their suspicions of Saudi guilt substantiated when $ 100 million were deposited in U.S. accounts by Saudi Arabia on the 17th of October just as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh, with many viewing this as an attempt to silence the U.S. and keep it on good terms with the U.S. This was made even more evident in light of the reluctance of the U.S. government to cancel the $ 110 billion arms deal which they currently have with Saudi Arabia. The United States would eventually be adamant in its condemnation of Saudi Arabia following the confirmation that Khashoggi was indeed killed inside the consulate, calling for justice to be served and for Saudi Arabia to be held accountable for its crimes. This is a warranted response, but one can’t help but observe how much of a big role the financial relationship between these two nations played in the U.S being initially hesitant to hold Saudi Arabia’s feet to the fire, something which it ought to have done from the start of this saga.

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When one puts everything into perspective, money can indeed buy people’s silence, but it can also buy people’s attention. Since it has been shown to sway people’s approval or disapproval with regards to their opinions on crucial matters affecting their country’s society and reputation, while also giving a snapshot of wear people’s priorities lie. A nation must always strive for security and stability in order to safeguard the prosperity and welfare of its citizens, but what good is achieving all this if the fruits of one’s labours cannot be enjoyed in what should be a country with a protected environment, accountable politicians, and respect for the law?

Written by: Jacob Callus

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