amazing Ambiance

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Rabu, 07 September 2011

amazing Ambiance


Benignant Belgium?

Posted: 06 Sep 2011 11:26 PM PDT

Benignant Belgium?

September 7, 2011 at 2:26 am (By Randy)

Quarterly GDP data don't, on the whole, tend to make the person studying them laugh out loud. The most recent set, however, are an exception, despite the fact that the general picture is of unrelieved and spreading economic gloom.   

Instead of the surge of rebounding growth which historically accompanies successful exit from a recession, we have the UK's disappointing 0.2 per cent growth, the US's anaemic 0.3 per cent and the glum eurozone average figure of 0.2 per cent. That number includes the surprising and alarming German 0.1 per cent, the desperately poor French 0 per cent and then, wait for it, the agreeably frisky Belgian 0.7 per cent.

Why is that, if you've been following the story, laugh-aloud funny?

Because Belgium doesn't have a government.

Thanks to political stalemate in Brussels, it hasn't had one for 15 months. No government means none of the stuff all the other governments are doing: no cuts and no 'austerity' packages. In the absence of anyone with a mandate to slash and burn, Belgian public sector spending is puttering along much as it always was; hence the continuing growth of their economy.

It turns out that from the economic point of view, in the current crisis, no government is better than any government – any existing government.

- John Lanchester: The Non-Scenic Route to the Place We're Going Anyway

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Eviscerating Indictment

Posted: 06 Sep 2011 11:05 PM PDT

Eviscerating Indictment

September 7, 2011 at 2:05 am (By Randy)

The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism…

…Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care.

 

… the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

 

By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner…

…This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document…

…Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy.

 

Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class – without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking…

…It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors' looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At "Washington spending" – which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade's corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

The author resigned this year, after serving 28 years as a professional GOP staff member, the last 16 on either the House and Senate Budget Committee. Lofgren goes on, providing a scathing review of what he believes current principal tenets of the modern Republican Party.

- Mike Lofgren in Goodbye to All That

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