Rachel Maddow on the Republican long, long plan to shut down the US government:
Bad, bad, bad, that is, when practiced the U.S Republican way: grandstanding, intransigent, self-defeating, hyperbolic and pure nuts. Boy, it’s going to be nigh impossible for the U.S to preach democracy to the un-democratized in the future; and maybe that’s a good thing. Physician, heal thyself. If the “richest and most powerful nation in the history of mankind” (as we are often hectored) with its unparalleled resources, history, tradition and education cannot produce a functioning democracy what chance for functioning countries run by strongmen? Better the strongmen stay in power or so the argument will go. Now I don’t know if I’m with the sceptics that the U.S is fast turning into a banana republic because even bananas have skins. Republicans are meanwhile peeling off the skin of democracy that keeps the demos inside intact and mashing the country to mush.
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? Republicans 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. The 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.
Jerry Brown: The 75yo guv’nor who’s reportedly taken California from deficit to surplus. “This idea you can have ice cream every night? Ice-cream was for your birthday” he says about his childhood. On his trying to get four state Republicans to back tax reform: “I tried. Almost on bended knee. Going to their house. It was almost like Camus’ theatre of the absurd. The heart yearns for meaning, and the universe is silent.” I love this guy but then I don’t live under his governorship.
PS Whatever happened to Jerry Springer?
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
“In [most] matters as in diplomacy, a nicely conformist nature, a good tailor and the ability to articulate the currently fashionable cliche have usually been better for personal success than an excessively inquiring mind”.
Adapted from the book: Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went by John Kenneth Galbraith
This afterall is the conundrum facing most creative minds: do as they do and be loved or blaze your own path and love yourself. It’s the difference between being an employee and an entrepreneur. Remember though that most businesses fail so this conundrum could be the difference between food on the table for you and your children or food stamps and the soup kitchen. It is certainly the difference between playing office politics in a wild scramble for juicy assignments and/or the fulfillment that comes from doing what you love best and kicking ass while doing it. It’s not an easy decision. But shouldn’t it be?