Archive for the ‘TEA PARTY’ Tag

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: MODERN CONSERVATIVES’ FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY – NOTE ON AMERICAN DECLINE – AND A FURTHER NOTE ON SARAH PALIN   Leave a comment


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Well said, Jeffery Simpson.

I believe there is an important contemporary political phenomenon with conservatives few have carefully observed.

As you say, fiscal conservatism has been dead for decades.

Both Reagan and Bush were big, big – truly reckless – spenders.

Yet they always were reluctant to pay the bills for their spending, typically cutting taxes again and again.

Not paying your bills is a fundamental violation of traditional conservative views and ethics, the one part of conservative philosophy I have always regarded well.

So what is a contemporary conservative?

A politician who tries to buy votes with tax cuts. Long ago, conservatives would say that liberal politician tried to buy votes with big, new programs. The conservatives finally hit upon a counter strategy of buying votes with tax cuts.

Tax cuts had the additional advantages of crippling the government’s ability to grow and creating a temporary Keynesian stimulus to the economy.

It has been an effective cheap trick, especially in the United States where hatred of the “fed’rah” government is bred in the bone.

And again, as you say, the one area where there are never cuts, only increases, is in so-called defense (so-called because just ask yourself, when was the last time the United States launched a war to defend itself?). This part of conservatism has applied primarily to the United States, a nation that regards itself as democratic yet continually behaves as a rather arrogant world imperial power.

Indeed, many Americans through a long and complex process of indoctrination Mussolini would have admired – in everything from marching bands, pledges, football homecomings, flags on porches, speeches, songs, social pressures of every description, plus the presence of the military everywhere including recruiters in every campus and high school – almost regard the very meaning of their country as a grotesquely-enlarged cartoon eagle, with its talons out, ready to strike.

And for so many young Americans of humble origin and limited prospects, the military is the key to a paid education, their part of the cheap political slogan, the “American Dream.” Plus a sense of worth, unavailable in McJobs, in a place which so exalts uniforms.

The only way you keep that whole thing rolling forward is with more spending and, truly, more wars – completely against the attitudes of most of the Founding Fathers who were generally traditional conservatives and afraid of standing armies.

So mindless support of the military-industrial complex – thank you, President Eisenhower, the last right-thinking Republican – has become a fundamental part of American conservatism.

Only recently, with the intense influence of the United States in Alberta and thereby on Stephen Harper do we see a bit of this poisonous philosophy coming to Canada.

Of course, the great game American conservatives have devised has within it the seeds of its own destruction.

Much as the former Soviet Union always contained the seeds of its own destruction – immense inefficiencies and endless spending on the unproductive military and security establishment.

The United States is unquestionably stuck on a downward path towards losing its imperial status with vast economic and fiscal inefficiencies and unbelievable spending on a military which never creates anything but waste and destruction.

While the United States remains frozen, much like the proverbial deer in the headlights, countries like China, India, Brazil, and even Russia are making genuine progress as efficient competitors on a grand scale.
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“And this is why there’s a Tea Party movement spreading across North America. Less taxes, less government spending.”

Sorry, the Tea Party is nothing but more of the same old, same old.

There is nothing new in it, whatsoever.

There have been many versions of the same thing, including the “contract with America” of that pudgy old phony, Newt Gingrich.

Just look at the party’s hooking up with Sarah Palin, truly a pitifully ignorant person who understands nothing of economics or, indeed, much of anything else.

The Party is a vehicle – paid for by some wealthy people – to harness the discontent of so very many Americans who really do not understand what has happened to them.

And so many Americans are virtually trained to look for quick and easy answers, trained to respond to celebrities like Palin, and trained not to question the fundamental assumptions of their society.

America’s middle class is in an unavoidable spiral of decline. Real wages have fallen for many years. Its efforts to maintain its situation – through two people working per family and moving out to distant suburbs for cheap land – is about played out.

The world of suburban sprawl and two large cars is coming to an end with oil prices which are only going to go up long-term. And America’s lack of competitiveness in many fields only grows vis-à-vis up-and-coming states. So does its debt of every description. And so do the foolish expenses of its military-security complex.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: PALIN SAYS SHE COULD BEAT OBAMA IN 2012   Leave a comment


 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

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

A truly frightening prospect.

She would be a repeat of George Bush, perhaps worse, possessing even a lower-intelligence brain and a far bigger mouth.

Palin couldn’t even manage to finish her term in one of the least demanding executive jobs in America, governor of Alaska, a place with the total population of a middle-sized town.

But Americans have become such suckers for publicity and advertising and cheap (ghost-written) slogans, being inundated with these things, a good number of them believe this mediocrity is qualified for one of the world’s biggest jobs?

Her stunning ignorance on almost any subject that matters was on display for all to see during that farce of a campaign with John McCain.

Her intelligence and application are documented in her academic career: she took six years at five different institutions to get a BA in the soft and easy subject of communications. The last institution likely granted it partly as an act of mercy.

Her petty tyrant temperament also have been put on display numerous times. There was her abuse of authority in Alaska trying to get a police official fired whom she happened not to like. Then there was her pressuring a young man to marry her pathetic daughter, dragging him around like a trophy on display.

There is a whole list of her public statements which would be embarrassing to any thoughtful person.

Since leaving her job in mid-stream, she has done nothing but appear for high fees, mouthing the inanities of a front organization like the Tea Party. She is just one more shabby opportunist serving the interests of powers she does not even understand.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OBAMA SIGNALS HE IS READY FOR COMPROMISE AFTER MID-TERM DEFEAT – WHAT THE ELECTION REALLY MEANS: AMERICAN DEMOCRACY IS ENDANGERED   Leave a comment


 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

EXPANDED VERSION OF POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I just want to know what else has Obama done since day one other than compromise?

All of his policies for two years have been compromises, some quite shabby ones in my view, notably his expanding the war in Afghanistan, his health-care monstrosity, and his surrender to Israel on his early demand for genuine peace efforts.

The truth is that this election is one more demonstration that Americans simply cannot govern themselves rationally. Indeed, it provides evidence that American democracy should be on the list of endangered species. It was a huge bought-and-paid-for operation, costing billions, leaving contributors privately glowing and chuckling about their success in getting what they wanted while leaving ordinary people thinking they have actually done something for themselves.

Much of the American electorate is gullible and poorly informed with no critical press left, and they respond to empty slogans and deluges of meaningless advertising. They respond to people like the leader of the silly Tea Party or Sarah Palin who are no more informed or helpful than Jimmy Swaggert or Rex Humbard would be.

The Republican who will become Speaker of the House actually cried in front of the cameras, a pathetic performance. His crying wasn’t about anything of substance or compassion, it was about his achieving personal success. Jimmy Swaggert puts on the same act when he’s passing the collection plate. This is how a great country governs itself?

The Supreme Court gave a decision on campaign funding that is genuinely dangerous, and this campaign shows just why. Ignorant rhetoric prevailed, and genuine public discontent was channeled into directions where it can not possibly shake the nation’s establishment.

I am disappointed in Obama, although I never expected huge changes, but I am even more disappointed in America falling for tired rhetoric and giving no clear thought to the future.

Sarah Palin, the Tea Party – it’s all been done before. They represent nothing but a series of big feel-good meeting by political evangelists moving their tent crusades across the countryside, themselves paid handsomely for their efforts, the whole effort generously paid for by interests whose objectives they do not even understand.

How many times in my lifetime have I heard the ridiculous pseudo-radical expression “We’re taking back the country!” rehashed? Well, in this election, it was the forces of wealth and militarism who took the country back from the threat of widespread popular discontent.

Of course, the taxes needed in America are now out of the question. Taxes are un-American, even when you are literally swimming in debt.

Never mind buckling down to hard work and sacrifice. Never mind recognizing the needs of the future. “You can have it all, and have it now because you are an American!” is the message embraced.

Stupid, surely, and on a grand scale.
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“The People of America are now back in control of their Congress, it is no longer controlled by special interest groups with hidden agendas.

It was funny watching the Dictator being humbled by the People. Obama will learn he has no power at all. It was a great day when FREEDOM came.

I wonder how the turn out was . I bet it was way over 90% of US voters!”

That is an unbelievably uninformed comment, but it does nicely demonstrate what the election represents: slogans with no content and complete lack of genuine information.

Actually not only was the turnout not high, it is a different pool of people to those who vote in presidential elections, as it always is for mid-terms.

The Dictator?

Well, using that term is pretty much a confession by the writer to an adolescent mentality or just plain paranoia.

By the way, the good old American people lost control of their Congress ages ago to the moneyed lot who pay the campaign bills.

One fact is certain, this was the most expensive election ever done.

Corporate and special interest money poured into this election as never before thanks to an idiotic, anti-democratic ruling by the Supreme Court about campaign funding.

The moron Tea Party itself was funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. It is anything but a grassroots movement.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: A WRITER SAYS AMERICANS ARE NOT STUPID BUT ANGRY FOR MID-TERM ELECTIONS : I BEG TO DIFFER   Leave a comment


JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE BY TOBY HARNDEN IN THE TELEGRAPH

There are two basic kinds of stupidity, Mr Harnden.

There is the original sense of the word, meaning a lack of intelligence.

There is no reason to suppose that the frequency distribution of IQs in America is much different to that anywhere else.

So, in that sense, yes, Americans are not stupid.

But the word has at least one other basic meaning, and that pertains to the holding of beliefs or views which appear to thoughtful people to have been devised by those who are stupid because their full implications are destructive.

America, having spent countless billions of dollars on two pointless wars and having caused the world financial crunch through a lack of any financial discipline in their laws, the last a reflection of the “I want it all and I want it now” attitude which dominates the society, is, very much, in this second sense characterized fairly as stupid.

Millions of lives disrupted all over the Western world because Americans insisted on buying their three-car garage homes with no down payments and with the legal ability to walk away from the mortgage when the price fell after purchase.

An entire generation of people in Iraq having their lives ruined with no jobs and even still many with no clean water or dependable electricity. A million dead, two or three million refugees, and countless cripples – all to no good purpose? Now that must be regarded as extremely stupid.

And how will America pay for a great deal of this destruction and havoc? Certainly not by reaching into its pockets for additional taxes.

My God, taxes are un-American. No, America will exploit its unique position as having the world’s main reserve currency. It will inflate and default on its obligations to billions of people, just as it did after the equally pointless war in Vietnam, and just as it did in the financial crisis.

Now a man of extremely mediocre intelligence was responsible for a great deal of this, and today we have a woman, not even of mediocre intelligence, barking at podiums, being paid millions, and being talked about as a candidate for the presidency.

That surely reflects a kind of profound stupidity.

I am disappointed in Obama, although I never expected huge changes, but I am even more disappointed in America falling for the same tired rhetoric and giving no clear thought to the future.

Sarah Palin, the Tea Party – it’s all been done before. Its nothing but a big feel-good meeting by political evangelists moving their tent crusades across the countryside.

Never mind, buckling down to hard work and sacrifice. Never mind recognizing the needs of the future. “You can have it all, and have it now!” is the message embraced.

Stupid, surely, and on a grand scale.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: STILL MORE ABOUT THE GOOFY TEA PARTY: THIS TIME JOHN IBBITSON WRITES ABOUT AMERICAN ANTI-STATUS QUO MOVEMENTS   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHN IBBITSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

John Ibbitson,

You really do have it entirely wrong.

I’m surprised at how much so. Perhaps it’s your American-wannabe inner-self seeking expression?

There is nothing new, and certainly nothing genuinely anti-status quo, about the goofy Tea Party.

Good Lord, Sarah Palin – George Bush with a sex change – was there, and they were applauding that total airhead as she waved her arms around like a Baptist tent preacher.

And surely, you understand that there is nothing new about Palin except the color of her hair.

In fact, the Tea Party is the same tiresome bunch we’ve heard from dozens of times before in the U.S.

It’s a re-run of a re-run of a re-run there: back to political basics and origins.

It’s almost a hobby amongst the U.S. Right Wing, every once in while, we get a bunch of them with a new set of slogans.

This latest group of clowns reminds me of Lamar Alexander working desperately towards the Republican nomination in 2000, by going around in a red lumberjack shirt and offering the profound suggestion of a part-time government.

Likely it was a custom-made lumberjack shirt since good old Lamar is a multi-millionaire. Of course, in one sense, old Lamar was only talking about formalizing the de facto reality: America does have a part-time government if you count the time spent soliciting money.

Were you aware that one of their speakers at the convention also called for the re-establishment of literacy tests for voting? It’s the old code phrase for eliminating black votes.

Anti-status quo? Yes, if you count going backward a century as being anti-status quo.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MORE ON THE TEA PARTY: THIS AN ARTICLE SO POORLY INFORMED IT SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED – BUT PERHAPS IT FITTINGLY SUMS THIS SILLY BUNCH   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY TOM VELK IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL
 
Tom Velk, this is a remarkably poorly informed piece.

First, you start with a straw-man argument.

The fact is no one on earth thinks the Tea Party represents rebels.

In fact, they are the same tiresome bunch we’ve heard from dozens of times before in the U.S.

Back to political basics and origins.

It’s a fad amongst the U.S. Right Wing, every once in while, we get a new bunch of them with slogans.

It’s been typical for them to use words or phrases like “manifesto” or “revolution” so that they grab attention and sound like something other than the retro-grade folks they are: Patriots with four-car garages.

The Tea Party will disappear within a year or two. It has nothing to offer. Good God, just consider they’re using the brainless Sarah Palin as a keynote speaker. Kind of says it all.

As for Jefferson, you seem unaware of the facts of his life. He said that the country needed some blood shed every twenty years or so to keep the Tree of Liberty nourished, and he wasn’t using poetic language. He supported the bloody French Revolution right through The Terror, leaving behind some pretty awful statements.

Jefferson actually shared qualities with Cambodia’s Pol Pot: he believed in the honest yeoman type and was against industrialization and opposed Hamilton’s sophistication in finances. He was repressive as in the revolt of Haiti and his horrible embargo of England and his Inspector Javert-like pursuit of Arron Burr.

Altogether a confusing and rather unpleasant man.

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“4. Describing America’s growth in the 19th century: “the giant did not grow by conquest (except of a figurative sort)” The War of 1812 was an attempt to do just that; The Mexican War? the forced death March of natives from Florida; the many ‘Indian Wars’ of conquest.”

Yes, indeed. Don’t forget the Spanish-American War intended to steal Cuba and other properties.

Then there’s the theft of Texas.

The theft of New Mexico and California.

The story of Hawaii is a very sad one. America stole the place after the British were gone and ignored the pleas of natives who even petitioned Congress and were completely ignored.

Don’t forget the many bloody uprisings in the “Empire of Liberty” stretching back to putting down the Whisky rebellion to the ghastly mass slaughters of blacks in the 1920s in Oklahoma and Florida and other places. Bodies by the hundreds dumped into mass graves and their property stolen.

Actually, America’s record, for those who know it, very much resembles Germany’s rise in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.

Only the fact that the places America attacked and pillaged were thinly populated prevents its record from being one of deaths in the many millions like Germany’s.

Of course, its ruthlessness goes right up to the fire bombing and atomic bombing of Japan and its mass murder in Vietnam with perhaps 3 million victims left behind. And a million victims in Iraq.

It ain’t a pretty record.

I really think the editors of the Globe need to do a much better job in selecting the people they print. This piece is uninformed trash.