Thursday, October 25, 2012


It is always risky to stick your head out in political matters and I do not even have a vote in the American election.  Americans frequently express a disdain for what foreigners think.  The outcome (not just for president, but Congress) will have an impact for the whole world.  The best way to start might be to explain my ideals.  Simply I think there does need to be a balance between individual and collective rights.  It is my opinion that things are headed to being unbalanced.

I am a small l liberal, with a lot of respect for some conservative thinking.  You should not spend more than you take in, although it is critical to invest for the future.  Individuals need to be rewarded for taking risks, but we need to balance that by cushioning the fall of those who do not succeed which ironically encourages more people to take a risk, a good example being Germany.  Furthermore the masses of people need protection from those with power to harm them.  Capital is said to be the base of growth, but actually labour is equally important.  Many people risk their money (for some it is a form of gambling for excitement), but somewhere someone has to do something.

Big money has too much power (including the military industrial complex, oil, pharmacy, financial, insurance, gambling, etc.).  Republicans should be most noted for chutzpah.  They blame Barrack Obama for a poor recovery, overlooking that they were instrumental in triggering the colossal mess, they obstructed reasonable solutions (even to the point of voting against their own ideas), and they are proposing the same policies that caused the mess--namely tax cuts, de-regulation and an aggressive military stance.  Some people would consider their behaviour treason as they obviously put their party above the country.  Many others don't see the full picture.  When they jumped on "he didn't build that" they gave a disgusting distortion of an idea that is not only very basic, but needs to be appreciated if we are to survive.

Sticking with money, I have to say it affects both parties.  The Democrats used to be beaten up pretty badly when it came to fund raising, but a few decades back started to fight back.  There are a lot of strategies to raising money, but to be effective you have to go after big money and ultimately that means favours.  One of the greatest problems is money and before Americans can have true democracy they have to find a way to cut the power of money.

Many conservatives indignantly exclaim that Obama has performed very poorly.  Extremely unfair and hypocritical.  His predecessor in 8 years did some very significant things that caused the sort of crisis that only happens every few decades.  Taking a budget surplus the Republicans gave out huge tax cuts that favoured mainly the wealthy.  He initiated two wars, one approved by Americans, but the other was foolishly leveraged on ignorance.  Although there was lots of proof that Saddam Hussein was an evil man there were really no indications he had anything to do with 9/11 and much evidence was criminally distorted to create a different impression.  For the first time in history tax cuts were portrayed as patriotic during a war.  These two factors plus a poorly thought out Medicaid (that leaned towards Big Drugs) are the real reason for the deficit and unfortunately Obama has to deal with the consequences.

The job crisis (which exasperated the deficit) was brought on by de-regulation.  It is true that too much regulation does stifle business, but if  fair regulations are enforced they help ensure not only consumer protection, but also keep a level playing field for honest entrepreneurs.   In order to maximize profits it seems nothing should interfere whether it is concerns for pollution, climate change, wildlife preservation, safety, fair understandable contracts, etc.  Republicans are very lax when it comes to consumer protection.  There does need to be a balance.

Most Americans seem unconscious that the Mid East is not all uncivilized, nor uniform in culture.  One of the biggest beefs is that the Middle-East has with Americans is their treatment of the Palestinians who in fact have been very unfairly treated.  But the Muslims in the Mid East also bitterly resent American support for dictators.  While Americans look at Iranians as fanatics they do not remember that Americans engineered a coup that displaced a legally elected popular politician.  Tough talk and premature action has made the situation more dangerous.  We are now in a transition that could go in different directions.  Deeper understanding and patience are required.   Those foolish enough to criticize any part of the war on terror during the Bush years were branded unpatriotic.

Social issues.  The Republicans realize that normally voters would recognize their economic self interest is not served by conservative policies.  But they cleverly tied some social issues that are so strong some voters will side with them anyway.  This leads to a lot of hypocrisy.  Those who get short changed by some of these emotional social issues include women, many ethnic and racial minorities, homosexuals.  The meaning of conservative means to me resistence to change and the status quo.  Americans need to change and realize they cannot dictate to everyone (at home or abroad)--we need to look for solutions as the real problems affect us all.  There is a segment of Americans that resent a black man in the White House and that seems to cloud a lot of Obama's policies and approaches.

What I see as the most basic problems facing the future are climate change, global joblessness, over-population, democracy.  None of these problems are seriously discussed.

Climate change is dismissed by far too many and is so touchy few are willing to bring it up as the serious issue it should be.  Few can remember when big tobacco spent millions to deny any connection between smoking and cancer and still lobby to maintain their right to lure gullible youngsters into an unhealthy addiction.  Climate change is real and apparently becoming closer to a dangerous tipping point--why Americans believe Big Oil interests rather than real scientists is baffling.

Joblessness is under assault not just by outsourcing, but also by technology--can be a very good thing if it is done with everybody in mind.  Unfortunately those in charge see the need to reduce labour costs as more critical than social harmony.   This leads to inequality.  Inequality is wasteful, dangerous and unfair.

Over population leads to all sorts of stresses such as pollution, food shortages, diseases.

Democracy is threatened by big money interests that distort reality to boost their profits.  Without a truly democratic government plutocracy is inevitable.  Probably getting everything in the right balance will be a continuous battle.

Who should pay for civilization?  In other words who should pay the taxes for America?  Those who benefit.  Those who want a big military to protect "our interests", those who want easy communication and transportation for their goods, those who want a legal system that ensures fairness,.  We all should pay, but be honest we don't all benefit equally nor do we all have the same capacity.

In fairness to Mitt Romney he had to cater to two types of voters.  Those who decided on his nomination were more socially (and fiscally) conservative than the voters that could elect him to be president.  The etch a sketch is pretty much what any Republican would have to go through.  I am sure he thinks he has a better economic model to strive for than is in place right now and realizes he won't get a chance to impose it without going through a lot of hoops.  I think his vision and that of his heavy financial backers is that Americans needs to let rich people loose.

An even broader perspective is needed.  Consumers are critical to making anyone rich, but they need a source of income and they also need to be protected from fraud, and shoddy products.  At some point somebody has to do the dirty work and they also need protection and incentive.  We all benefit when there is a level playing field which is unattainable in perfect terms. Inequality hurts everyone--we need the best medicine, the best science, the best technology, smart consumers, enthusiastic workers.   We all benefit when we all have access to information to make decisions, but most of us are squeezed with other demands and distractions on our time

Mitt Romney is undoubtedly a more practical man than he is portraying himself, but his supporting advisors are scary and his voting base even scarier.  Perhaps the greatest concern is he cannot keep his policies straight, a sign that he is not his own man and/or will say any thing to win

I would also like to point out to conservatives that since Dwight Eisenhower (who warned about the military industrial complex) Republicans have increased the deficit while Democrats have lowered it.  Despite many claims to the contrary even Obama has paid more attention to the deficit than Bush.

Obama also has to cater to a variety of interests and required a lot of financial backing to get his platform, so he cannot do everything he thinks is best and like everyone he is imperfect.  But he is the better choice.  Don't forget he needs a strong supporting team.

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