Musings, Politics

Midnight Mass: You’re Fired

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics there were approx 118 million full-time employees in the US in August (http://www.statista.com/statistics/192361/unadjusted-monthly-number-of-full-time-employees-in-the-us/). Just under one million of them are going to be summarily dismissed at midnight tonight by the Republican House of Congress. The largest mass firing since Lehman?┬áRepublicans probably think this is all a joke. “Just give us what we want,’ they whine with an air of entitlement, “and we won’t let the country go up in smoke.” A party of adults who think no deeper than a three-year old.

Democracy isn’t a perfect institution but a stop-gap measure to avert civil war: rational intelligent people agree to disagree; and agree to live by laws instituted by democratically elected governments. If one party doesn’t like the law it canvasses the public and if successful, gets elected and changes the law. Otherwise it abides by the law of the land. It is that simple but it takes maturity to abide by it. This is a concept that the founding fathers of America understood pretty well. It is a concept that the bigwigs in the Roman Republic let wither after 400 years of republicanism. It is a concept that the inferior intellects of today’s US Republican party have chucked out the window. After all they are God’s party and God doesn’t compromise, right? “It’s my [God’s] way or the Hell way.” It was hell’s way for Rome – democrats and republicans alike were slaughtered in the ensuing melee and the State exchanged independence for submission under emperors.

The knock-on effect of a million people being without a paycheck will be felt much farther than the eight hundred thousand being dismissed. Household budgets, care for children, consumer spending, impact on capital markets etc etc all these are understood by those with some modicum of financial nous and no doubt there will be inscrutable research papers and theses written. ┬áThe rhino in the room is the precedence that this ill-thought and irresponsible misadventure by the Republicans sets: this will be a cancer that won’t stay in remission. And the rest of America must fear when sooner or later the Republican party fractures and implodes. It won’t be a day for celebration because without an overarching structure, the rank and file of idiots will be bereft of the hope of sound leadership. For history tells us that desperate people take desperate measures.

Books, Musings

Against Power: Hayek

I picked up Frederich Hayek’s book “The Road to Serfdom” from my stack with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because this is one of the most famous books of the last century on political economy and trepidation because it is also a favourite of right-wing laissez-faire pundits. It didn’t take me long to start marking off objections which just confirmed my suspicions. And then at some point into the book I realised the author was not against government per se or for laissez-faire economics. Hayek was against the concentration of power, full stop; for having been through the rise of National Socialism (Nazism) he was taken aback by sympathetic views in Britain, his new country, on State organization of all affairs as was common in the Germany leading to the rise of Hitler. Of course, Hitler exploited this to devastating effect. In economics, Hayek was in favour of competition as the best way for directing economic affairs and guaranteeing individual liberties. He was firmly opposed to monopolies or oligopolies. In government as in business Hayek thought concentrated power will verily be abused per Lord Acton’s famous saying: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

So what do I think of this book. It is immense and essential reading. It really is and I kept marking stuff all over the place. For all those capitalists on the left, as I am, who may be afraid of reading this book please toss that fear into the abyss. It’s a good thing to have a lot of perspective and this book will challenge your beliefs in a healthy way. I found myself re-examining my wholehearted support for the European Union in the form that it is in today and that was a good thing. One should keep growing in thought and ideas. I am not sure I agree as one reviewer suggests that this book is the most important book against totalitarianism since I can think of works by Hannah Arendt but this may well be the more readable.

Included in my book reviews on Amazon: here

Culture, Musings, Politics

God’s Own People (GOP)

The morbid and self-pitying wailing coming from Republicans, post the US election, is not only childish but wretched and pathetic. The way it looks, if Republicans win the White House they earn a mandate to make (or repeal) the laws all Americans must follow. But if they lose they want the President-Elect assassinated, individual states to secede and people to buy ammunition in preparation of the coming fight (or defense) of their Amendment Rights. This coterie of ignoramuses can’t see how much they are making, and have over the last four years made, a mockery of “the country we so love” before the rest of the world, tarring the “good name” of America with the filthy muck more associated with despots and failed states. Multiple comments about how America is now finished, that this is the end, that Obama is a communist (!, go figure), America is now for the takers not the makers etc are asinine if not imbecilic.

Let’s look at this another way: Americans are quick to harp on about their military and how their soldiers are around the world fighting for democracy and freedom. (And yes, they fought for freedom, though not democracy, in World War I and II and we are grateful). Fast forward to the 21st Century and let’s assume American soldiers bring democracy to a troubled country and a political party is elected to office. For what will the blood of “our brave men and women” have been shed if the losing party then decides to rend the country? Isn’t the whole point of democracy to engineer a majority rule as the fairest system of governance (or else we will fight each other to perdition) and everyone else falls in line until the next election? Isn’t the opposition then supposed to help debate issues and proposed legislation, intelligently and constructively, rather than being ingrates and obstructionists as the Republicans have been? Crucially, isn’t the opposition supposed to figure out what went wrong at the previous election and then evolve or better educate the public so they (the opposition) stand a better chance of winning at the next? Is this what Republicans are thinking of doing? Oh no, democracy be damned. They plan to dig in their heels and fight the good fight of conservatism!!! Let the country go to pot. It’s no wonder the typical Republican is regarded by the rest of humanity (except possibly by fascists and extremists) as being thick as a log.

The present state of the Republican Party illustrates very clearly why religion is (or at least one of the reasons why it is) such a dangerous master and this applies from America to Iran to Popery. Religion is grounded in and furthered by near-sighted diehards who are intent on and willing to clubber their way to power; imposing their bigoted and appallingly narrow views on all and sundry. Perhaps this should be less of a surprise given that the god of the Christians and the Muslims, and of course the Jews, (assuming he is one and the same) is an inflexible and unyielding tyrant. It’s always His way or hell. At the rate things are going in America, if the Republicans don’t repent of their self-destructive sin, then the world might just be witnessing the beginnings of a slow moving train wreck: civil disobedience, civil war and the implosion of the “greatest country the world has ever seen”. So in the end, it won’t be China that brings down America but God through the GOP. How tragic. And the experiment that began with such lofty ideals in 1776 would be smashed by the crazy mis-illusions of God’s Own People.