The Money Maker

Tomorrow evening, Messrs Romney and Obama will take to a stage and engage in part two of their debating trilogy. I’m a bit bemused by American* politics. I have had many questions about American politics over the years. The answers are usually more bemusing than the questions. But this is a country where religion truly became business. Without America, you’d never have anything as nuts as Scientology or Mormonism. Without Mormonism, you’d never have anyone as nuts as Romney. Without Romney, you’d never have anything as nuts as the US. It’s truly a vicious circle. I understand that Romney won the first debate, and it appears that the fact he seemed to know little about his own policies (or Obama’s policies, or anything else in particular) doesn’t count against him.

I would clearly side with Obama politically. As someone who lies pretty much in the centre of British politics, I am by definition in the US a commie. Leftist. Liberal. Looney. Etc. I’ve always thought that US terminology is very petty. In the UK we refer to each other as scum, scruffs, scabs and toffs. Words not to be taken too seriously. I prefer ‘nuts’ myself. It is to the point. I digress though. I would side with Obama. But I find myself unable to get too much enthusiasm going for this election. I’m told by some people that this election is ultra important. That the two available options (because the third option isn’t an option) offer massively different choices.  I beg to differ. The candidates might be promoting very different choices.

But I’m quite certain that, regardless which of the two my American friends elect, not much will change economically. Elsewhere in politics? Not much there either. I hope so, anyway. Of the two, Romney is the dangerous option. Romney is the one who is more likely to embroil the west in new and unnecessary wars in the Middle East. And it’s Romney’s Tea Party friends that are the more likely to divide the country in social pogroms that deny the citizens freedom. Done, of course, in the name of freedom. But economically? The world’s economy is what it is. There’s not much room for manoeuvre. And not much will change. I suspect.

But here’s the crux of this post. I’ll start by mentioning that old adage, that we never learn from history. That’s my theme. But onwards –  I keep hearing a few of the same things from Romney leaning people. They bemoan the debt caused by the economic stimulus. Indeed, the bemoan all the debt, but the stimulus money in particular. The current economic crisis isn’t exactly the same as that of the 30’s. But I understand the similarities are striking. That crisis was approached initially with Romney style austerity. And the US promptly plunged into depression. It didn’t work. Hoover was out and Roosevelt in. Keynesian economies were put to work. Obama (and, incidentally, Bush Jr) style spending was implemented. And the US grew its way out of the doldrums. World War Two helped, of course. World War Two was also a socialist endeavour, on all sides….

Today, the US economy is growing. With it’s stimulus. In Europe, a number of countries are practising austerity. Greece. Ireland. Spain. Portugal. Have you checked out their economic situation and outlook? The UK is one of the few major economies voluntarily practising the more extreme forms of austerity. We’ve been in recession again too. Is there a pattern here? I can’t claim to be a leading light in global economics, and I’ve not held a job in the financial industry outside of home insurance (although I’d quite like to – http://www.ap-executive.com/uk/en/jobsectors/financial-services/ ) but I’d need to have explained to me why the bleeding obvious isn’t correct.

Romney, most libertarians and others on the US right would like less, little or no government. Which, for me, begs another question. What makes anyone think that the free markets, the man in the street and the corporation would run the world better than a government? It has been tried. The British government had a very hands off approach during a large chunk of the Imperial era. Laissez-faire was the order of the day. It made Britain very wealthy. Ridiculously wealthy. One wonders where all the money came from. One doesn’t need to look hard. The tens of millions of dead across Ireland, Africa and the Indian subcontinent tell a story. The millions of opium addicts in China. The list goes on. And ends with the largely impoverished population of the UK itself, living in squalid industrial slums. What makes anyone think that big business will have more of a heart today? What’s changed to prevent that happening? Nothing, I suspect. I provide Libor, sub-prime mortgages, Bernie Madoff, oil companies drilling in Africa and the 1% as evidence of the repetition of history. Oh, and there’s also Iceland, the closest we had to a laissez faire state in the last half century or more…

I’m told that if Obama wins a second term, the US will end up being just like Greece. Why? Because Greece are socialist. Socialism doesn’t work and begets bankruptcy. I disagree. Greece has been financially irresponsible  Financial irresponsibility begets bankruptcy. I’ve touted Germany as a better example before. Germany is way, way, way to the left of Obama. Germany has a multitude of social programs. Germany is surrounded by economic basket cases that it is almost single handedly keeping afloat. Germany has one of the soundest economic and industrial bases in the world. Germany has done a better job of being financially responsible. It seems to me a though the key factor in building and maintaining a financially stable economy has nothing to do with socialism or capitalism, but more to do with financial responsibility. Incidentally, the whole idea of pegging this down into the two camps of socialist or capitalist is ridiculous. There are no socialist or capitalist states. They don’t exist. There are only mixed economies, which may lean one way or the other.

My last point. The dreaded Obamacare. It’s socialist. Positively criminal. I feel it’s a step in the right direction. Towards having a health service the US can be proud of. But still a step bogged down and watered down by bickering, insanity and petty ideology. If you’re American, then you are spending double, triple what European citizens pay for their largely socialised health care. And you’ll probably die younger. And not just because of gun crime and obesity. Even infant mortality is shockingly high. Millions of Americans suffer because the richest country in the world can’t pull its finger out and produce the health service that should exist. Think about it. You pay twice as much. You die younger. Something’s seriously wrong. And of the many, many things that are wrong, Obamacare is not at the top of the list. Or near it.

I enjoy political, imperial and economics history. Domestic and international. And I see Romneyism written all over that history. With luck, he’ll be history himself this time next month. It’s too close to call at the moment though. I’d really like to know why someone who would vote for Romney genuinely believes that austerity will dig the US out of an economic crisis. Why they believe that the US health service is a better fit that the German’s social health system. Why Romney’s shrunk government won’t permit the spread of poverty, death, decay and their cousins greed, division and class society. But perhaps most of all, I’d like to know why they’d vote for someone who believes in Mormonism? Have you not read the ‘good book’?

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16 Comments

  • I still await a response from someone who’d vote for Romney why they think paying double the rate for health care over Germany works out for them. Or why they think austerity is going to work this time round, when it’s never managed to produce the goods before.

    But then, Romney has no answers (or tangible policies) either, so this is probably to be expected.

  • I have read the “good book” I think John 10:16 is particularly interesting. Anyhow, I find it funny that lots of people talk about Romney’s religion, but I don’t hear much about Obama’s religious views. Anyhow, I am personally still undecided. In the end people like to talk about how different the two canidates are, but in realityI think the US is a football game being playing within ten yards of the 50 yrd line.

  • I have read the “good book” as you describe it. I particularly like John 10:16. Anyhow, I will say I am an undecided Independent. I am not sure yet who I am going to vote for. I find it funny that everyone talks about Romney’s religion but no one seems to talk about Obama’s. Not saying that Obama is not religious, but it does seem odd to me that it doesn’t get brought up much.

  • We in the US get wrapped up in the NAME politics but our system is more like the party system that the Brits enjoy. I vote the party here regardless of who heads the ticket. That said: I sat out a local office race for many years because the guy was mobbed up-could not vote for someone who would vote in the chamber with the right and could not vote for a gangster.
    As to the money. it’s guns or butter, we as a nation have to decide if we really want to be the world’s policeman…

    • Global power shifts. You either go with the flow or try and swim against the tide. Another note from history – Britain’s place in the world began to shift at the beginning of the last century. We tried very hard to overcome the tide and it went very badly for us. Forty five years later, the world changed again, and this time we went along with it, and it was a much easier swim.

    • The good news, incidentally, is that Romney is a 2 to 1 outsider betting wise. That makes him something of a long shot. British bookmakers don’t usually like giving money away necessarily.

  • Alas, U.S. economic policy is being held hostage to a morality play. While the deficit is frightening, no one in US politics seems to be able to stand up and say what you’ve just said. Austerity doesn’t work, and we have AMPLE (did I mention AMPLE?) examples currently and in the past to prove it.

    The truly frightening thing about Romney and his little sidekick his how baldly they outright lie. Personally, I’d like a smaller US government, and less of a nanny state. But the republicans NEVER have delivered on that particular promise. Further, most of the really noisome regulation is state and local. When was the last time the federal government gave you a parking ticket? Denied you a remodeling permit on your house? Told you you couldn’t smoke in public? Everyone is focused on Washington, but the nanny state is a far more local creature.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    DF, México
    Where we are inhaling deeply the air of freedom, laced with a heavy dose of unregulated truck and bus exhaust.

    • Politicians are…well, politicians. Take what they say with a pinch of salt. Don’t bet too much on any promise. But I am genuinely baffled that so many intelligent people are watching Romney and not seeing the key issue with him – he’s making it up as he goes along.

      Which begs the question…..when voting Republican, which Romney are they voting for exactly?

  • As a UKerican, I have seen both of the medical systems up close and personal, and I prefer the USA system. The NHS is AB fab if you have an emergency injury or illness. But if you have a chronic illness or chronic pain, it sucks big time! I suffered through a frozen shoulder for 6 mths before I got to see a specialist. It was to be another 4 months before I would see an O.R. On the NHS dime.. luckily I had BUPA thru my company, went to a specialist in Windsor, and had it resolved in 3 days! The NHS ain’t free-you pay dearly for a rather inefficient system through your payroll deductions. OAPs are not much better off either. My M.i.L is 88, and was in agony for 3 weeks waiting for a scheduled cortisone injection. Not fun… And definitely NOT a fan of socialized medicine in any format. Oh, and the reason for Brit teeth? NHS Dentists!
    Dan in NC

    • Personal experience is never a good measure of a national system. If it were, I’d extol the NHS as the best thing since sliced bread. And USians that I know would confirm the horrors of delay for insurance authorisations and rejections. The American system had its plus points – breast cancer survival rates put the NHS to shame. But at the end of the day, if the NHS is inefficient, where does that leave the US system that costs twice as much without anything much to show for it.

      But anyway. I am aware off the faults of the NHS. Which is why I touted Germany’s health system.

  • I am one of those Americans who has voted for Romney. And I will probably get around to posting on it sometime this week. I suspect it will sound a good deal like your piece with the names reversed and some nouns changed. And with lots of support for liberal democracy. Or I may just mail my ballot and hold my tongue. Care to wager on those options?

    • You’d then, surely, have to argue that Obama is something he’s not. People keep using the socialist word. Obama may be many things, but a socialist he is not. I’ve seen and heard real socialists, ones who do not believe an awful lot in mixed economies.

      • He is clearly not a socialist. He has never advocated the public ownership of the means of production (with the possible exception of the General Motors incursion). But, he is without doubt a corporatist. And, from my point of view, that is bad enough.

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