Archive for the ‘CLIVE CROOK’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: GOVERNOR PERRY AS CANDIDATE FOR REPUBLICANS IN AMERICA   Leave a comment

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

“But you can say one thing with confidence: a 14-month campaign that divides the country even more deeply, adds to uncertainty about long-term economic policy, fails to resolve anything but paralyses government in the meantime, all with the economy sliding back into recession, is not a good plan.”
Well put, Mr Crook.

You have precisely put your finger on the national political pulse and diagnosed why American politics are so inimical to good government.

It is actually bizarre in a nation with such a strongly defined sense of itself, that set patriotic feelings which have been very accurately described as the American Civic Religion, the people are so divided by what, in a longer term view, are trivia that they cannot pitch in to a national need and purpose so clear before them.

But it is nothing new. American killed people for ten years in Vietnam, squandered countless billions, and ended by dropping the convertibility of the dollar for what? A vicious domestic politics in which each side feared being “out-commied” by the other.
All that death and destruction dispensed to no point whatsoever since communism was always fated to wither through its internal inconsistencies.

Nations really do rise and fall in many instances owing to things which in hindsight seem immense stupidities, and America is certainly no exception.

The trouble is that the entire world must fear and be hurt by America’s crazy, meaningless politics because America has so thoroughly stuck its fingers into everyone else’s business.

There are many stories on the Internet, which if demonstrated true, may well end Perry’s campaign.

He is said to be a heavy user of prostitutes.

His wife was clearly not a happy camper in his last campaign for governor, going around with a rather frozen face and few words.

His religion is extreme and bizarre, a branch off the Pentecostals which the Pentecostals have called heresy.

And remember the American Pentecostals themselves are folks whose idea of religious inspiration is rolling around on the floor and yelling meaningless gibberish, a performance known as “speaking in tongues.”

Yes, America has a lot of Christian fundamentalists, but they are a minority, and the really bizarre ones are a still smaller minority.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: LONDON RIOTS – WHAT THEY MEAN – A SARCASTIC VIEW OF THEM IN LIGHT OF OTHER ACTIVITIES BY BRITAIN – GADDAFI RECOGNITION   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES BY CLIVE CROOK

I’m not sure why these many people are rioting.

But I very much like the idea that Gaddafi apparently has recognized them as the legitimate government of Britain.

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I think you are still too young, Clive Crook, to have an accurate perspective on this.

The truth is that we are just chimpanzees with big brains, the brains largely serving to expand our opportunities for mayhem.

Perhaps a tenth of humanity thinks and reacts as you do, as civilized and thoughtful and decent.

I wish it were a larger portion, but I know to a certainty it’s not.

If you think the London riots or people defecating in an alley are bad, try imagining what the people of Iraq have experienced in the last decade, their entire advanced Arab society set back for a generation and perhaps a million dead and no jobs or opportunity left.

Or what the people of Vietnam experienced in the 1960s and ’70s when the world’s most advanced nation spent countless billions bombing, napalming, and poisoning them, leaving their land a hideous mess for decades to come, and all for absolutely nothing but political superstition?

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CLIVE CROOK COMMENTS ON REPUBLICAN AND TEA PARTY BEHAVIOR DURING BUDGET TALKS   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

The Republican behavior has a long history.

Barry Goldwater, a decent though extreme politician, back in the early 1960s was fond of saying, “…extremism in defence of liberty is no vice…”

The “Tea Party,” really just a sub-caucus of the Republican Party, adhere to that kind of simplistic declaration of faith.

One senses in such adherence more than a tinge of another American social phenomenon, the notion of the endless possibilities of self-improvement held almost as a kind of intense faith in wish fulfillment.

If I want it to be so, and wish or pray for it hard enough, it will be so.

The outer limits of these attitudes are seen in the large groups of fundamentalists who periodically sell their homes and gather in some location, waiting for the Second Coming at a predicted date – something which has happened dozens of times.

Another reflection of the phenomenon was highly visible at the turn of the century. Huge numbers of otherwise seemingly reasonable Americans predicted social collapse and stocked freeze-dried food and ammunition.

We do have millions of American fundamentalists who support Israel out of some bizarre set of thoughts from the Book of Revelations that when certain events transpire in the Mideast, Christ will return. Thus they support Israel in a kind of nihilistic embrace of death.

I believe these extreme attitudes and views have a Puritan origin. They are in the genes, not learned.

That makes them pretty well unchangeable over any reasonable time horizon.

Whenever a bizarre subgroup has leverage over a political system, owing to that system’s inadequate institutions, we get paralysis.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MORE ON OBAMA’S SAD WORDS – CLIVE CROOK RIGHTLY SAYS THE ECONOMY ISN’T A MOON RACE – THOUGHTS ON PRODUCTIVITY AND COMPETITION   Leave a comment


 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Well said, Mr. Crook.

And I think this points to an underlying truth about the government of America.

If a man as intelligent, optimistic, and hard-working as Obama can get things so wrong, who possibly can get them right?

He is being torn apart in the world’s mightiest, most unforgiving force-field,a set of demands from scores of directions, many or most irrational and unforgiving.

America’s national politics have many similarities to being caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole.

The force cannot be resisted, and there is only one possible end to the event: the object caught will be reduced to its constituent atomic particles.
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From another reader:

‘Another question: Is not “productivity” even more of an empty mantra than “competitiveness”?’

Empty mantra?

Productivity is a real and measurable quantity.

Unfortunately, in the popular mind, higher productivity means just something like just working harder, but that is not at all the case.

Take the example of two small farmers, one still using a hoe and spade and the other using a new small tractor.

No matter how hard the farmer with the hoe works, he can barely compete with the farmer who has a tractor. Indeed, the tractor makes such increases in productivity that its owner will be ready to buy more land since his tractor enables him to work more without a huge increase in time and other inputs. Or he may choose to do still other work with his tractor in his time freed up.

Productivity is the ratio of the amount of output (the product) to the amount of an input – often called a factor of production, as capital or labor, but most often measured in terms of labor. The ratio may be in terms of hours or dollars or still other measures.

It is possible to substitute up to a point more labor for capital goods like tractors if you have an economy with huge surpluses of underemployed labor, as has been the case of China or India, since hiring from this pool of labor does not raise costs.

Competitiveness is a nation’s (or a company’s, within a nation) ability to produce goods and services at lower cost, so long as that cost has adequate returns to the factors used in producing it.

The adequacy of the returns to factors of course varies from country to country and industry to industry: we know interest rates, the price of capital, and wages, the price of labor, vary.

The United States remains competitive in areas of high-technology and advanced services, but in all traditional industries it is pretty well uncompetitive.

Its car industry, for example, is just holding on through various artificial barriers and helps. Within a few years, China is going to come crashing into North America with quality products at lower cost.

We have already seen the results in recent decades: American real wages have dropped for decades.

But even in areas of high-technology and advanced services, countries like China and India are catching up. They invest in education and technology, and they appear to have natural intellectual gifts making them very comfortable with computers and engineering.

China today produces the world’s fastest super-computer and is entering areas like high-speed trains or advanced aeronautical products. India, with its language gift from the British Empire, is busy in areas like finance and banking and on-line computer services.

The world does not sit still. The rate of change in technology, which over the long term, drives economic growth, is on a steep rising curve, which means the rates of change we see will only continue to come faster and with greater impacts. America in no way possesses a unique grasp of technology or of the ability to adapt to its changes.

Indeed, it could well be argued that the ancient adaptations Asian people have made to group cooperation and civility are superior qualities for a rapidly changing world. Just so, their clear superior average endowment in mathematical ability – measured on many international tests – gives them a powerful underlying advantage.

America’s postwar period of easy superiority, a time when all serious competitors were prostrate, is now over – that is, the so-called American Dream, that glib, largely meaningless political slogan, is dead.

On top of those realities, America has so over-extended itself with debt and waste on war in every direction, there is a huge price to be paid before an equilibrium can be reached to even start new competitive efforts. Obama and other American leaders are not willing to say any of this.

It’s just more of the same-old, same-old blubbering and slogans, whether from Obama or the Tea Party.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MORE ON OBAMA’S SAD WORDS ABOUT AMERICA – THE GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT OF OBAMA – DOES AMERICA EVEN NEED ELECTIONS? – CHANGE LIKELY ONLY WITH U.S. DECLINE   Leave a comment


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

“President Obama’s great promise has been utterly wasted in policy-setting.”

Absolutely, and I have to believe he represented the last great hope of changing America’s course, Mr. Murray.

The entire planet breathed a sigh when Bush left office and this bright, charming young man entered.

But I cannot think of one area now where Obama has not disappointed, often greatly disappointed.

It does really seem that elections do not matter in the United States.

The pointless Afghan War goes on and on.

America is killing hundreds of civilians in Pakistan.

Iraq remains the mess America has made of it, millions reduced to hopeless lives for a generation.

America’s client, Israel, continues its brutal, bloody policies, never once making a genuine effort at peace, never once even acknowledging the inhumanity of its actions.

Internally, American politics are the same dog-fight they ever were. The Culture of Complaint prevails in everything, the Tea Party being just the latest change of costume for the same old play. No sense is heard anywhere on the national scene, at least from anyone of influence or even potential influence.

Sinking into old age as I am, it is exceedingly melancholy to consider the way virtually nothing in America has changed for the better since I was an angry young man over the horrors of Vietnam. American political rhetoric remains as utterly meaningless as 45 years ago.

The slaughter of innocents continues all over the globe, indeed, now is becoming computerized so that buzz-cut young men in secret rooms can play games at computer consoles, pumping their fists after sending a Hellfire missile into a home full of people.

I think it likely the only force now which will precipitate real change in America is its relative decline in the world, an unavoidable reality, which will cause many changes in attitudes and beliefs as it truly takes hold.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OBAMA’S SADLY EMPTY WORDS ABOUT AMERICA – IT’S TIME FOR AMERICA TO SHUT-UP AND ROLL-UP ITS SLEEVES – BUT THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN   Leave a comment


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY KONRAD YAKABUSKI IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Competitiveness and innovation are never affected by government exhortations, nor indeed are they affected by any other exhortations, including those of business schools or “inspirational” speakers.

They come from the underlying real economic and financial conditions of a country and of the world in which it functions.

One can only look at the United States’ position in the world and offer a bitter smile at Obama’s empty words.

Debts of monumental proportions in every accounting from international balances to personal finance, idiotic pointless wars, and mindless military and security expenditures – all at the same time new competitors like China, India, Brazil, and even Russia grow to new strengths.

The United States is simply not competitive in so many areas of its economy. Nor is there any reason to believe that it can become so before undergoing a great deal of painful adjustment, the kind of adjustment its government works tirelessly to avoid.

Their government ignores reality because Americans are on average surely the world’s greatest whiny babies when it comes to painful adjustments.

It is their sense of boundless entitlement, fostered by countless dumb politicians blubbering in Fourth of July speeches about the American Dream and passing laws and budgets, year after year, which are completely irresponsible.

That is simply a one-way trip to nowhere, no matter how big your economy and how great some of its past performance.

But Americans are suckers for tent preachers, in everything from new product advertising to politics and self-help gurus helping themselves to people’s pocket books, and Obama is really starting to sound like one more of a tiresome breed.

The answer, of course, is for America to shut-up and roll its sleeves up – even then there are no guarantees of the same kind of future as it has enjoyed in the past – but you never fire America’s imagination by truth and reality.

Miracles, sermons, sugar plums, and fairy stories are always in demand.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: FURTHER TO AMERICA’S PRIMITIVE POLITICS AFTER THE ARIZONA MASSACRE – PRIZE EXAMPLE OF A MEANINGLESS COMMENT A LA SARAH PALIN   Leave a comment


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

“Mr Chuckman, why are Canadians are so obsessed with America and Americans, studying American history to glean anything and everything that can be used to bolster long formed opinions of ‘America the Evil’ then spewing it ad naseum. If only Canadians spent 1/10 as much time worrying about what’s wrong with Canada.”

Constance P, that is a truly fatuous comment, and I note that is in the very spirit of American politics being discussed.

Did your words possess any validity, there would be no reason to analyze or criticize anything.

I do not claim to be an expert on America, but it is a subject I know rather well, having been born and having spent close to half my life in the place.

In my effort to understand the world in which I live, America is a subject about which I have read a great many books, and I have written one and am in the process of writing a second.

I do think myself qualified to make comments on the subject, quite likely somewhat more than yourself.

At any rate, ad hominem argument – yours – has been recognized for centuries as invalid logic, indeed as no argument at all.

America’s people constitute about five percent of the world’s population, and its active voters a far smaller fraction, perhaps on the order of one percent.

So when America swings its economic and military weight around in world affairs, which it does certainly day and night, it is in effect acting as an aristocracy. After all, the Communist Party of China represents about the same fraction of the Chinese population, and it is in for constant carping and criticism, especially from America.

When a small group of people so affects the lives of others, I take it to be your view that those affected aren’t supposed to say anything.

A limited view, to say the least.

That last of yours is embarrassingly revealing. What do you know about Canada and Canadians to qualify you to make such a specific comment as you do?

Your saying that only reveals the same thinking pattern of which you accuse me.

I would roughly assay the quality of your comment as coming pretty close to twenty-four karat Sarah Palin.