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?
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.
Todd Akin is a House representative from Missouri running for the Senate. He has a degree in management engineering and a Masters in Divinity (whatever that means). He’s voted for carrying concealed weapons, against all abortion and against increases in education spending! He is also a Republican, the undisputed legion of nutters. Mr Akin has been in the news recently for comments implying there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” and that abortion should not be allowed even here since women’s bodies have a natural way of shutting down under legitimate rapes. I’m scratching my head: if the rape is legitimate why should the body want to shut it down? And if it did is that not abortion? And how does a woman’s body know which rape is legitimate and which one isn’t? Shouldn’t the body be trying to block “illegitimate” rapes? Perhaps if Mr Akin is allowed to present evidence for his case even he may in the telling realise what a muppet he is.
Brilliant article on the man who would be president. This man may as well be living on the moon.
Gingrich: Fly me to the moon
When I was younger, I would ocassionally be given one of those Watchtower publications with the pretty and pristine watercolors of man, child, woman and beast frolicking together in a corner of God’s paradise. The stench of christian felicity, love and comradeship hung heavy in the air. Given the ferocity with which Republicans fight legislation and their single-minded adherence to dogma come what may, even God may a have a problem passing a bill. From my seat, having seen how Republicans fought both the healthcare and the debt limit bills, it’s hard to see how a repub christian will sit, sup and glory hallelujah alongside his dem brother when Kingdom comes. Mystery.
It was an article of faith during the 1960s that Keynes had changed the macroeconomics debate forever in favour of government stimulus. The thrust of his General Theory is that economies in recession will not grow through fiscal balance. People need jobs to earn money to spend to keep others in jobs to earn money to spend and so on. In a recession, businesses lay people off and cut back on investment. Consumers then, unsurprisingly, cut back as they lose jobs or fear losing them. The economy contracts and enters a funk. The government remains to pick up the slack.
Trying to achieve fiscal balance in a recession to stimulate growth is just cutting off the knees to stand tall. The familiar Repub argument is that the government’s debt is too high and taxes should be cut to stimulate demand. Well it is true that the public debt is mighty tall and will reach the heavens if stacked high in 100 dollar bills. But if one presses one’s nose to a window one should at least acknowledge the view outside. America’s massive debt will never be repaid. At least not in “real”money. All of America’s debt, as well as those of all other governments, will either be repaid in vastly devalued money or written off.
The next argument is tax cuts will motivate entrepreneurs to create jobs and deliver growth. What wishful thinking! Entrepreneurs are motivated by the zing of dollars from profits or the IPO. The IPO will only happen if there is a promise of profits. Profits come from consumer spending. There’ll be no consumer spending until there are jobs and therefore there’ll be no entrepreneurial investments until jobs return. And so we have a chicken and egg situation. It’s like creation: you need that first flash. The economy needs to be jump-started either through government spending or an export boom. Just cutting taxes will increase the government deficit and if the government cuts back to counteract, aggregate demand falls and unemployment rises so you now get a downward spiral. Of course, the spiral will be checked by more spending power from tax cuts for those still lucky enough to have jobs but will this be sufficient to deliver growth? Hmmm.
Tax raises on the rich, increased government spend and some modest tax cuts for the middle and lower classes would be much more effective. The rich are already spending all they need on their essentials (ok, so a few smaller yachts, smaller grand homes etc but this is not what the economy needs). Raising taxes will reduce the fiscal deficit someway and government spend in areas like infrastructure, energy and education will stimulate and support the economy long-term. Tax cuts for the lower and middle classes will deliver extra bucks to where it’s needed most. And that’s even without enumerating incalculable benefits from the social harmony arising from reduced inequality.
Somehow money needs to be made available to the lower and middle classes who are the linchpin of the economy – it’s their spending which will spur growth. The long shot is for America to export its way out of the bog. For a 12 trillion dollar economy, as they say, it ain’t gonna be easy. But it is God’s own country and He might just work His mysterious ways.