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’?