Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trying to explain the inexplicable – McCain Vs Obama

Why is America trapped in support for a failed ethos? The question needs to be looked at when the country is apparently divided between a sad old relic of a discredited past and a fresh and dynamic candidate willing to look to the future.

For a political tragic it is easy to perceive the masses as politically ignorant, disinterested, unengaged or in their own words so often, ‘just too damn busy’.

The deep emotional bonds; the patriotism, national pride, country first attitude makes a lie of the too busy argument. The now self evident economic pressure, something that must be a plague in nearly every household, screams for serious engagement, but it isn’t happening.

This campaign appears to be teaching us the real reason for what we see as voter apathy – pure fear. What if I get it wrong? We have muddle through this far, perhaps no decision is the best decision… After all, governance is a complex set of paradigms, best left to those who know. Even, it seems, when they manifestly don’t know.

Quite possibly the fear became the fuel of the culture right from the start. The American myth is based on the threat of evil forces which are set to destroy the beautiful dream. That dream machine, Hollywood, has revealed the myth many times. Two that come to mind instantly are ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and Okalahoma, and in both those good overcame evil for no other reason than it was right and proper.

Now, having fallen from a lofty leadership perch, at least to the outside world; facing an economic disaster of mammoth proportions, the polls are suggesting something close to ‘business as usual’. It doesn’t make sense in any logical way, only in fear and an strange blind faith in what seems to always have been.

But that doesn’t make sense either, not if you take a critical look at the country’s past. Okay, we don’t do self criticism, so I’ll help out. For at least the past 30 years the USA has been living on debt. For many years the world went along with and enjoyed some of the results. But sooner or later that debt is called.

Obama would do well to lose this election, because as winner he will need to (with reference to comments from Lindsay on my previous post); increase taxes – increase interest rates – strip the financial sector of the burden of wasteful and needless layers, and that is just for starters.

A President Obama would need to seriously reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, turn family homes back into family homes rather than wealth generators, focus agriculture on food rather than wealth production. In short, America is facing the wake up call that is clearly driving deep fear and insecurity across the nation.

Check out Lindsay’s McCain speech - Trying to explain the inexplicable

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Still puzzling the American Way

Political science is famously not a science, but there are still clear methodologies predicated on a range of issues and influences. By any measure a negative expectation of a Democrat sweep in November cannot be sustained given current indications.

My gut feeling is for the tsunami that didn’t really happen in 2006, but my gut feeling is neither relevant or scientific. That it will take a major upset, given the current situation, for Obama not to win a clear majority is beyond doubt.

Obama’s team know that there was a calculated risk in taking an overseas tour at this stage, even at a time when there is no official campaign.

His team know that no matter how much the rest of the world were impressed, they don’t have a vote. They even understood the danger of Obama attracting that ‘hubris’ charge. But there is a long campaign ahead to mend that perceived damage.

The media are falling over themselves to be seen as even handed. That is a hard one when there is really only one story – well two if you want the one about the candidate who can’t figure out how to capture news attention; about the candidate who carps about his opponent constantly.

But the media do have an option – give the candidates equal footage or verbiage, even let them choose it themselves, and dispense with inane commentary. Let the words and the images speak for themselves. Again, allowing the candidates to select the output.

This is not an even race and however it is conducted McCain is not going to be a US president. But if you doubt me please look at No cliffhanger, more like an Obama landslide.

If I were on Obama’s team I’d be counseling full steam ahead, steady as she goes. There is a need to talk about elements of the economy, of the economic future – but not to the extent of revealing the extent of the mess Obama and America are inheriting. I’ll post soon on that, perhaps.

No messiah

I have no doubt Obama will win, and win well when the time comes. However the current drag on the numbers is more positive than the alternative. The greatest danger for Barack Obama is to be elected as some kind of messiah. The tests America will face require a country of partners, not an adoring cargo cult society.

In fact no one has really raised the messiah fear, but I suspect it bubbles away down there in the national psyche, and it is a fear worth actually recognizing. But the concept of Americans per se accepting the responsibility that comes with democratic equity is a more problematic scenario.

But the fact remains, Obama is on the right track by my reading of the situation. There would need to be a major upset on his part as it seems highly unlike the Republicans can claw back in the face of their many deficits. But even the best candidates have been know to screw up…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The differences are undeniable; but why?

On the face of it the cultures of the US, Canada and Australia should be fairly similar, well they are in some ways but words apart in others. In fact we are each largely immigrant societies with very similar ethnic mixes.

Australia and Canada share many cultural similarities, but Canada also shares borders with the US while Australia is a little more isolated from the European base. Even Australia’s proximity to Asia has not led to a more dominant Asian presence than the others.

The question of the differences exercises my mind as I try and understand and compare our various political dynamics. True the systems all vary to some extent, but they are the mechanical aspects as opposed to how voters react to a variety of issues.

I would argue that, as detached as they often seem, Australians are far more engaged than populations in those other countries. Canadians come in next, being reactive to specific issues, including household economics. Americans seem to suffer a great deal more indignity before they react.

So here is my hypothesis: Americans and their immigrants believe in the dream; the “belief in the freedom that allows all citizens and residents of the United States to achieve their goals in life through hard work.” Wiki Of course the other two nations have much the same freedom, just a different outlook.

There is a certain expectation of harshness, of a need to beat the country first in both Canada and Australia. Of course both countries boast some mighty harsh climate and terrain extremes, but the US has its own share of them.

And for most Australians and Canadians the most harsh conditions are lived vicariously rather than actually experienced. Sure there are weather extremes and natural phenomenon to contend with, but not on a daily basis, and not especially unique.

Somewhere along development from the pioneering time the countries attitudes diverged. It could be because the US experienced the civil war; it is certainly because the US developed a corporate culture far more deeply than other places. We have our corporates, but we also hold them to account, take a fairly cynical view of their activities.

Australia and Canada have an enduring welfare culture, despite recent attempts to dismantle safety net systems. Unlike America a person can openly proclaim themselves to be socialist or even communist; just as openly as they can claim to be capitalist. That alone suggests more robust tolerance levels, though you would wonder at times.

That is the trouble with generalizing, there will always be exceptions. However there are clear differences between American outlooks and aspirations compared to ours. It shows clearly come election time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites – It's the economy, stupid

I’ve been boring the world for years with my assertion that elections are decided on the basis of the economy. Commentators are actually agreeing this time around, people are hurting and they are looking for answers. No answers here, just the usual out-takes and sound bites from the campaign noise.

Previous: Coulter and Huffington

The candidates, presumably

The Patriot Game

The Middle East

…this election is about the sputtering economy - Northwest Florida Daily News

"Flat is the new up."

Expectations that the current US economic downturn will be shallow are diminishing

Everyone from CEOs to policymakers to ordinary investors and depositors are grappling with the question: How bad is this crisis? How bad could it get?

"It's that uncertainty, I think, that is generating a lot of the stress … that we're seeing," Ben Bernanke

The world's biggest economy has become the world's bigger debtor nation, the country with the largest trade deficit, the largest oil deficit, and an annual fiscal deficit that U.S. political institutions cannot seem to master.

Everywhere Americans turn they see red ink

  • Their housing market is a flood of debt.
  • Their lending institutions, or at least some of them, are drowning in debt, with the Federal Reserve trying to rescue them.
  • Personal debt is high; the national debt is enormous
  • Incomes have been rising in the U.S., but largely at or near the top of the income scale
  • Americans continue to spend more than they produce, import more than they export and, through their government, spend more than they tax
  • A $53 trillion hole will deepen by $2 trillion to $3 trillion a year
  • the drop in equities has wiped out $2.5-trillion of household wealth

Neither Democrat Barack Obama nor Republican John McCain has a credible plan for balancing the budget

Although presidents going back to Jimmy Carter have episodically lamented dependence on foreign oil, none has done anything significant to change it

Voters say they lean slightly in favor of Democrat Barack Obama on the economy, 43% to McCain’s 41%

When asked which issues factored most heavily in their decision-making process, the majority of respondents (64 percent) ranked the economy as their top concern R&L

The President

  • "I have great confidence that our economy will pull through this difficult period, because I have great confidence in the boundless, innovative spirit of the American people"
  • "With sound policies in Washington and the ingenuity of our citizens, our economy will emerge from this period stronger and better than before" GW Bush


  • “I’ve been holding town hall meetings to talk over the subject on most everyone’s minds these days – our slowing economy.”
  • “Very soon, we’re going to get this economy running again at full strength”
  • “In an economic downturn, the worst of all ideas is to raise taxes. And Senator Obama will do just that”
  • “I would imagine” we are in a recession”
  • “Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the future of the country"


  • It became very obvious that John McCain has a very specific plan for simultaneously revitalizing the economy, lowering gas prices and creating a national energy program that would free us from foreign oil independence. Vail Daily
  • McCain once again sought to counter the impression that he was not as strong as Obama on the economy...
  • McCain is using the time to shore up his perceived weaknesses -- on the economy and in fundraising
  • McCain is seeking to bolster his appeal to voters on economic issues

Phil Gramm

  • "You've heard of mental depression;. this is a mental recession... We may have a recession, we haven't had one yet...
  • …has obviously spent too much time out of office and in the private sector, because this week he committed the ultimate political crime. He told the truth…
  • Phil Gramm is off to the political gulag for the ultimate crime of the election season - telling the truth
  • Most of those attempting to use Gramm's comments against McCain are using the comments out of context
  • The media wouldn't want to get bogged down in the facts of the issue, because that would interfere with their efforts to promote the "mental recession" which Gramm talks about
  • Gramm still collects salary from his directorship at UBS AG, where his guidance helped the giant Swiss lender to become the world's largest loser in the U.S. subprime debacle
  • 'Whiners' advisor resigns from McCain campaign


  • "If you are satisfied with the way things are going now, then you should vote for John McCain"
  • "Let's be clear. This economic downturn is not in your head. It isn't whining to ask government to step in and give families some relief!"
  • “I have little doubt that we’ve moved into recession at this point”
  • “The sooner we can get money to people’s pockets, the sooner we can stabilize..”
  • The government and society as a whole has an obligation to deal with poverty
  • “There are issues related to the short-term liquidity when they borrow money versus issues related to whether the underlying assets of the two corporations are really unsound.”


  • voters seem to feel better about Obama on the economy, but they don’t seem to know why
  • Obama has questioned the rationale for pursuing the Doha round, even hinting he could try to unpick existing agreements, including the North American Free Trade Association with Canada and Mexico
  • Obama is “extraordinarily naïve” on foreign policy and the economy - Mitt Romney
  • Obama's main solution to the looming Social Security bankruptcy is to raise taxes on the well-off
  • Obama, if he is indeed the next president, will have to move quickly and forcefully to address America's economic discontent
  • Obama has veered to the center with his economic message

Obama's economic policy director Jason Furman

“Jason is at the core, and he’s tasked with bringing in different perspectives”

main objective is “to make the economy grow and have the middle class share in that growth”

Obama is offering a complex and aggressive set of proposals to cure the economy. Among them, he would push for tax breaks for middle-class families paid for by tax hikes on the wealthy

McCain has pledged to balance America’s books within four years of taking office

Furman described the pledge as preposterous, pointing out that the deficit was projected to grow to $443 billion by 2013 if Bush’s tax cuts… are extended

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dragging out the conservative carcasses

John Howard’s conservatives ruled Australia for over a decade; some of us believe a socially destructive decade. When voters turn they often turn with vehemence and Howard not only lost government but his own seat as well.

But the remnants of his leadership team survived, albeit removing themselves from leadership positions, becoming an increasing embarrassment to everyone. The former foreign minister, Alexander (Piggy) Downer finally resigned a couple of weeks back – after a series of arrogant displays of serving only himself on the public purse.

Former Deputy PM, leader of the National Party and my local member resigned at the weekend. Mark Vaile was busy scrabbling for a post parliament job, while collecting his parliamentary entitlements. He didn’t represent this electorate effectively in government, in opposition he did nothing.

The last of the old leadership hanging on to his sinecure is former treasurer Peter Costello. Pete is hanging out for a fat private job too, but it get harder all the time for him. Some in the party want him to run for leadership, he’d rather snooze in parliament and leave lots of time to write his tell-all memoirs.

I’m not sure when we will be having bye elections, but the government is really putting the heat on the opposition to sort out who is going before they decide. It is crazy to dislocate the system with individual election dates.

Our independent state MP Rob Oakeshott is considering running, and I’m hoping he does. We haven’t been served well by party hacks and Lyne has particular issues as the region is undergoing transition. From a former agricultural/family holiday area we have developed rapidly to a regional growth area.

I essence that means the big city overflow, the less productive surplus, are being directed here because of marginally cheaper living. Retirement and welfare is already the growing trend, and one we need to turn to advantage. If life gives you lemons… But among the lemons are wonderful skills and opportunities to be found.

The dynamics of this region beg for greater food self sufficiency and allow for a targeted shift to green energy. We do have the skills here to address both these issues. Use of the remaining agricultural land needs to be maximised to serve local needs and ship out a healthy surplus. All of these issues rely on shifts in policy.

We should be in for an exciting future, with the right will and direction harnessing our specific dynamic.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites – The Middle East

I guess we’ll be looking at two sides of this issue, the before and after of Obama’s grand tour. Just Iraq and Iran here and the comments devoid of context. This is the before part of the unfolding drama, the sound bites tossed casually like a handful of sand.

Previous: Coulter and Huffington
The candidates, presumably
The Patriot Game

The United States and Iraq have agreed to set a “general time horizon” for the “further reduction of U.S. combat forces in Iraq” following the improvement in security conditions in the country, the White House said… NYT

“We have one president at a time, so I’m not going to be traveling to negotiate anything or make promises” Obama

“And if we still adopt Sen. Obama's proposal for a set date for withdrawal, this very fragile success that we have achieved will be jeopardized”
"We are winning" McCain

“John McCain has been in Congress 25 years — no doubt about that — if this is a longevity measure, then John McCain wins”
“On the other hand, before we went into Iraq, I knew the difference between Shia and Sunni.” Obama

"Senator Obama was wrong when he said it wouldn't succeed, he was wrong when he said we've lost the war and he is wrong today when he says that Iraq is not the central battleground" McCain


Obama is proposing that the United States deploy about 10,000 more troops to battle resurgent forces in Afghanistan

  • “As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan
  • “We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.”
  • Obama, who is among those who maintain that Afghanistan has been neglected because of the administration’s Iraq policy, has not previously offered such a specific plan for how to strengthen troop levels in Afghanistan.
  • “It’s very hard for us to bolster our forces in Afghanistan when we have such a heavy presence in Iraq.”
  • “I continue to believe that we’re under-resourced in Afghanistan,”
  • “That is the real center for terrorist activity that we have to deal with and deal with aggressively.”


  • Obama "will never change course on Iraq, no matter the facts on the ground"
  • "I know how to win wars. I know how to win wars"
  • McCain, a Vietnam War hero, has attacked Obama as too inexperienced to serve as U.S. commander in chief.
  • And if we still adopt Sen. Obama's proposal for a set date for withdrawal, this very fragile success that we have achieved will be jeopardized”
  • “That's what Gen. Petraeus says, and that's what Osama bin Laden says"
  • "Senator Obama was wrong when he said it wouldn't succeed, he was wrong when he said we've lost the war and he is wrong today when he says that Iraq is not the central battleground"
  • “If Barack Obama believes that visiting Iraq and meeting with commanders will not give him any new perspective, then we can only assume he’s going just to smile for the cameras” Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for McCain.
  • "But the major point here is that Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong"
  • "If he has no intention of listening to what American commanders in Iraq have to say, or incorporating that information into his policy, why is he even going?"
  • "If I'm elected President, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory, I know how to do that"
  • "He will land in a very different Baghdad than the one he would have landed in ... if we had done what he wanted to do"

McCain Ad

  • "Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan"
  • "He hasn't been to Iraq in years”
  • “He voted against funding our troops. Positions that helped him win his nomination”
  • “Now Obama is changing to help himself become president"

"The American forces will not withdraw whether Obama wins or not. If they withdraw, that would create a big vacuum and Iran would be the first to fill it." _ Ahmed Samih, Sunni official in Ministry of Higher Education in Baghdad.

Foreign Media

  • Obama's Republican rival, Senator John McCain, has not matched Obama's seriousness on Iraq. He is still largely adopting Bush's blind defense of an unending conflict.
  • Obama has a better grasp of the big picture, despite McCain's claim to more foreign policy experience.
  • Obama said he would withdraw combat forces from Iraq by 2010, shift at least 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan that could be leveraged to persuade NATO allies to also increase their numbers, send more nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan and build a stronger
  • After arguing that no additional forces were needed, McCain reversed course on Tuesday and endorsed sending 15,000 more troops to Afghanistan

International Herald Tribune (France)

Obama's foreign tour stands in marked contrast to John McCain's three recent foreign trips, where he was chased by just a handful of reporters

McCain responded to the news by drawing on Obama's paucity of foreign travel, suggesting that his rival should wait until after his visit to Afghanistan and Iraq before pronouncing on his war policies Telegraph (Britain)

  • It was Obama, not Bush or McCain, who wanted a timetable for troop withdrawal, a notion also recently backed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
  • The "time horizon" agreement is less firm, but certainly more like the Obama/al-Maliki position than the GOP had previously taken. In that regard, the agreement has strong elements of a win for Obama
  • al-Maliki never, to my knowledge, mentioned the surge's success as a reason he wanted a timetable
  • press accounts show him mentioning a desire for full Iraqi sovereignty and resistance to administration demands on a status of force agreement Deutsche-Welle

Talks have sputtered over Baghdad's demands for a timetable for US troops to withdraw as well as Washington's demands that its soldiers and other staff be immune from Iraqi prosecution.

The US Air Force has sought millions of dollars in "war on terror" funds for "comfort capsules" so that the military brass can fly first class to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan

The capsules, which are loaded into the bay of a military transport plane, come with a sofa, work space, two leather seats, a flat-screen TV, ports for a satellite phone and a separate module with two bunk beds and closets Gulf Daily (Bahrain)

Republican presidential candidate John McCain commented on Friday on the unannounced timing of a high-security trip by Barack Obama to Iraq, saying he believed his Democratic rival was going this weekend.
But McCain's spokesman said the Arizona senator knew nothing about Obama's schedule. EcoDiario (Spain)

They just keep coming:

McCain predicted a surge of militant attacks in Iraq around the time of the US election in November.
"I predict that they will make an attempt as we get in to the election season to make more of these spectacular kinds of attacks which they're still capable of doing”

"The Muslims have said either we kneel or they're going to kill us,"
"I don't intend to kneel and I don't advocate to anybody that we kneel, and John doesn't advocate to anybody that we kneel," former Vietnam prisoner of war Bud Day to Republican Party of Florida

"Mr Day's distorted view dismisses the vast majority of Muslims who stand with our nation to fight extremists and anti-American forces,"
"Senator McCain needs to make it clear that he does not support such a divisive position and that his campaign respects all Americans." Council on American-Islamic Relations

Iraq PM backs Obama troop exit plan” White House clipping service

"Iraq will be in hell, and we will find ourselves at the gates of civil war" Maied Rashed al-Nuaemi, a provincial council member in Mosul

The U.S. presence in Iraq is useful now, but if the security situation gets better, I think it's not necessary to keep all these big numbers of soldiers here" Mosul's deputy governor Khasru Koraan

Friday, July 18, 2008

Afghanistan – An involvement worth considering

Barack Obama has pledged to send at least 7,000 more US troops to Afghanistan if elected president in response to mounting concern about worsening violence in the country. I’m with him, as long as he doesn’t call it a war.

The Canadians say - We are not the Soviets ... though Afghanistan is an unpopular engagement for them. However one major figure, George Petrolekas, says the ‘most egregious error’ is to refer to everything the West is doing in Afghanistan as a foreign invasion, replete with the imposition of foreign ideas, control and values.

The Canadian Forces colonel, who was involved in the Afghan mission from 2003 to 2007 asserts that no one can suggest, with any seriousness, that Canada and its allies in Afghanistan are trying to create an adjunct state in their own image or with imposed values, save for a modicum of equality and freedom.

Australia's defence minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, used his first trip to Washington to call for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan and to defend Australia's withdrawal from Iraq. Fitzgibbon asks "What does winning in Afghanistan mean from my perspective?"
His answer is: "It means winning the hearts and minds of the afghan people, proving to them that we're offering is better than what the Taliban or any other group can offer them."

Australia's 1,000 troops in Afghanistan operate as part of the 1,600-strong Dutch task group with crucial support, including artillery, helicopters and jet bombers, provided by the Netherlands. They share the military base at Tarin Kowt with the Netherlands operating as lead coalition nation in Oruzgan since March 2006.

The point is, these countries are officially responding to what we see as a major need, perhaps one we would rather avoid. But it is not war! The whole basis of the actions is stabilization and reconstruction. Certainly it includes military actions, this is still a very dangerous region. But reducing that danger is part of an overall strategy.

America’s role has typically been more aggressive, indeed focused on the punishing terrain used as cover by the extremist elements. But that should be viewed as a stabilization efforts as opposed to a war. A workable strategic plan rests on modifying terminology and attitude, at focusing on sustainable outcomes.

The potential of adding Pakistan, or parts of it, into the mix makes a reasoned outlook even more imperative. These are both countries where the extremists can and do melt into the general population. Part of any western drive must be to give those populations reason to reject those who oppose stabilization and peace.

We are not likely to, and for most of us have no desire to, recreate these countries in our own image. There are many countries surviving quite happily without western democracy, some of them are our allies. But if the social structures allow for a measure of education and economic development, allow people to live with dignity, the involvement will have been well worth the effort.

An interesting aside from NYT
Talks Signal Mideast Shift

The United States, Israel and some of their European allies have begun to recognize that trying to defeat their enemies in the region by isolating them has failed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites – The patriot game

With July 4th in the rear view mirror patriotism is still a puzzle for non-Americans; the Patriot Game is an odd sport. For most on the outside patriotism is generally considered the last refuge of a scoundrel. Perhaps it is so, but patriotism still plays heavy on the American psyche. So what is it? who does it? All in purloined and out of context quotes of course.

Previous: Coulter and Huffington

The Candidates, presumably


“The Real Meaning of American Patriotism”

  • It is something considered worthy of emulation, which probably informed the decision by the creators of our 1979 Constitution to turn to America - Ochereome Nnanna Nigeria
  • “Loving your country shouldn't just mean watching fireworks on the 4th of July"
  • "Patriotism is deeper than its symbolic expressions, than sentiments about place and kinship that move us to hold our hands over our hearts during the national anthem"
  • “…explicit connection between patriotism and not only service, but also civic responsibility”
  • “…move beyond the notion that patriotism is somehow the dominant province of those who serve in the military” Michael A. Cohen
  • Haven’t the last eight years taught us anything?
  • we’re force-fed flag pins and chest-thumping about patriotism, questions about cookie recipes, designer suits and fist bumps
  • True patriotism lies in protecting and helping fellow Americans Baltimore Sun
  • "America: Love it or leave it"
  • "Patriotism is someone who would put their life down for their country,"
  • "Either literally, giving their life as a sacrifice for their country, or by putting down money, joining the military, volunteering somewhere."
  • The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country
  • “…an abiding belief in the inherent and enduring goodness of the American nation”
  • “at the end of the day the patriotic American believes that America is fundamentally good as it is.” Jonah Goldberg
  • Patriot Act - authority to strip away the liberties of Americans CapHillBlu
  • the general public see you as a terrorist or a patriot
  • What is patriotism? In something of an exercise in political nostalgia

Wannabe Patriot Obama

  • Obama - “For me, as for most Americans, patriotism starts as a gut instinct, a loyalty and love for country rooted in my earliest memories.” And on the other: “When our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism.”
  • What was missing? There was no mention in either writing about corporations or businesses.
  • From my basic learnings, even from elementary government classes, was the concept of our forefathers that corporations were actually “individual” Americans, and that our laws are written based on that concept. Bill Depew, president Rural Broadcasting Service
  • Obama can bridge America’s patriotic divide by demanding of Americans the sacrifice that has been lacking not just for the last eight years, but indeed for much longer… Michael A. Cohen
  • Obama is now as patriotic as the electorate wants him to be
  • every speech he makes, he is now flanked by several American flags. Just in case anyone thinks he isn’t patriotic
  • Obama claims he is a "progressive." Bullshit. He's about as progressive as Pat Robertson
  • Perhaps it is because the Democrat candidate, Barack Obama, is surrounded by so many people who so clearly hate this nation and all it stands for… John Howard

Presumptive Patriot McCain

Given everyone seems to presume McCain’s patriotism, as Americans seethe term, this list is far shorter.

  • John McCain isn't a scoundrel, but in a presidential race in which he now trails Barack Obama, patriotism is shaping up as his last refuge.
  • It's hard to remember a time when the Republicans didn't own the patriotism issue.
  • “I think John McCain is going to make sure that America stays America.” Gov. Mitt Romney

As an aside – The Election to test the value of military service

  • Americans respect military service and connect it to patriotism
  • Consider some findings from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center:
  • Americans' low esteem for the federal government doesn't extend to the military.
  • A May survey found support for the federal government the lowest in at least a decade
  • 37%
  • with President George W. Bush's favorability at only 27%. But the survey indicated a favorability rating of 84% for the military.
  • In a February 2007 survey, military service topped a list of presidential-candidate traits that would make Americans more likely to support someone.
  • About 48% said they would be more likely to support a candidate with military service
  • 3% said they'd be less likely to do so.

Respondents to an April survey were asked which traits described various candidates.

  • Ninety percent thought the word "patriotic" described McCain
  • 61% thought it fit Obama. Seventy-one percent said "tough" fit McCain
  • only 49% applied it to Obama
  • Obama did better with "inspiring," 66% to 39% for McCain.
  • More than twice as many U.S. presidents have had military experience as haven't.

    Bill Clinton didn't serve, and he defeated Republican combat veterans in 1992 and 1996. Both his victories came in peacetime

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Protecting the economy from the markets socialist?

Republican lawmakers have urged Democrats to take more time to go over the administration’s proposal Bush’s plan for mortgage/banking regulation. Senator Jim Bunning, Republican told a banking committee hearing. “But no, it turns out socialism is alive and well in America.”

Well yes sir, it is, it just depends on which brand you prefer. Obviously corporate welfare is still the preferred model for Republicans. Apparently some lawmakers are facing tough re-election contests want to reaffirm their identity as budgetary hawks while publicly breaking with the deeply unpopular, lame-duck Bush administration.

It is little wonder just 23 percent giving it a positive rating with these sort of antics. But people aren’t getting angry about the economy being jerked around for the sake of a few votes. They aren’t even angry about McCain’s moronic “I know how to win wars”. Nope it is the depiction of Obama on the front of the New Yorker that is causing the greatest angst.

Fortunately for Americans, and the rest of us I should add, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is not asleep at the wheel and are taking action within their own charter.

The SEC is invoking emergency powers to limit "short selling" in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shares, as well as in stocks of major brokerages and is considering extending the order to the rest of the market as well.

The House Financial Services Committee would do well to focus on some of the unethical and illegal methods employed by the US market operators, methods used to rape the US economy. These include:

Short selling - Short sellers borrow stock and sell it, betting the price will drop. If their bet is correct they can buy new shares later at a lower price, repay the borrowed stock, and pocket the difference between the sale price and the repurchase price.

So-called naked shorting, which is selling stock without actually having the shares in hand or located. Naked shorting already is illegal, but the rule against it hasn't been widely enforced.

The SEC is looking to lock up Fannie and Freddie shares, preventing them from being borrowed by other short sellers. A cynic might suggest this as a good method to short circuit some of the pay off methods from lobbyists to Republican lawmakers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Corporate Socialism – The American Way?

This is the basic hypocrisy, the great American denial: The land of free trade and enterprise practices socialism at its highest levels. If you doubt me, consider the unfolding Freddie/Fannie drama.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson plans to ask for authority to buy equity stakes in the two largest mortgage firms and lend them capital has quelled fears among money funds. It is a very public version of insider trading, with one major difference – current equity holders will probably be wiped out.

"We assume their stock prices will go to zero - the government won't pay to buy them"

Nor should they, this very public signaling would drive an obscene level of speculation and share trading to profit from a government bail out. Well, that’s fine for the equity side of the equation, but…

Investment firms that manage more than $520 billion in money-market funds, said they will continue to buy Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt because the U.S. Treasury's rescue plan has bolstered confidence. These include Vanguard Group, Federated Investors Inc. and The Reserve.

The real effect is that corporations with the buying power can manipulate this public recovery plan, and receive blow by blow guidelines to maximize their potential profits. That is a form of socialism, of corporate welfare.

“The steps that the Treasury is proposing is a strong positive for the marketplace as a whole,” David Glocke (a portfolio manager for Vanguard) said in an interview. Vanguard oversees $170 billion in money funds. “We've been a big buyer and have positions in all our portfolios”

My own leaning is to providing some sort of safety net to mortgage holders, but I would hate to suggest even more socialism to the land of free trade. Given the whole problem has been greed driven, I wonder how November would shape up with millions of voters holding mortgage default notices in their hands.

Ok, the politicians aren’t going to allow that, but at least they could ensure that the big end f town was not able to profit even more from the whole mess. Instead of the corporate directors and portfolio manages rubbing their hands with glee, make sure they pay for the disaster they have created.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites The candidates, presumably

Presumably these guys, Senators McCain and Obama, will be the major candidates if they don’t get hit by a bus or swallow their foot before the party conventions. Our second list is a general overview of the candidates – a series of out-takes and out of context comments. Bits from them and bits about them.

Previous: Coulter and Huffington

“I don't think Obama's qualified and McCain's another Bush…” James Nauman, 55, from Lutz, Fla

From Obama

  • I am someone who is no doubt progressive
  • I believe in a whole lot of things that make me progressive and put me squarely in the Democratic camp
  • On gun control; the Second Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t think we need decent controls”
  • “Those two positions are not contradictory.”
  • “When I hear John McCain saying we can’t surrender, we can’t wave the white flag, no one is talking about surrender.”
  • “I agree that immigrants should learn English”
  • “You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual”
  • “When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment.”
  • “When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”
  • "We have failed to seriously go after al-Qaeda over the last five years because of the distraction of Iraq.”
  • "I think we are now seeing the consequences of that in Afghanistan."

About Obama

  • now supports broader authority for the government's eavesdropping program and legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in it, supporting the bill after some protections were added
  • became the first major-party candidate to reject public financing for the general election after earlier promises to accept it
  • promised to expand Bush's program to give more anti-poverty grants to religious groups
  • objected to the Supreme Court's decision outlawing the death penalty for child rapists
  • support for the death penalty if used only for the "most egregious" crimes
  • also said "mental distress" should not count as a health exception that would permit a late-term abortion
  • "Senator Barack has been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based...I wanna cut his nuts off," Jackson said. The Reverend Jesse Jackson
  • "There appears to be no issue that Barack Obama is not willing to reverse himself on for the sake of political expedience," said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the national Republican Party
  • "Obama was labeled as more to the left than he probably is"

From McCain

  • "economy-is-not-my-strong-suit"
  • "To have two tax codes in America is not an unacceptable situation"
  • "I've got Greenspan's book"
  • “I count myself as a conservative Republican, yet I view it to a large degree in the Theodore Roosevelt mold”
  • “Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today”
  • “… that’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace, and it’s got to be fixed.”
  • "I will not play election-year politics with the housing crisis"
  • "We must also understand that there are 12 million people who are here, and they're here illegally and they are God's children"
  • "Senator Obama went on at great length about how much he cares about women's issues. I believe him"
  • “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption”
  • "We can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success."
  • "I cannot imagine why he would say it. It's not true"
  • "I'm John McCain, and I approve this message."

About McCain

  • But then the wheels fell off the Straight Talk Express
  • "There is real concern that McCain hasn't found his genuine voice"
  • “…they never know which John McCain will show up on a given day”
  • expressed support for offshore oil drilling to increase domestic supply
  • then confounded them by refusing to endorse oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska
  • "… doesn't have the conservative vote really locked up, but he is already moving toward the centre on lots of issues"
  • "One day he'll say something that's appealing to conservatives, and the next day he'll say something that's appealing to moderates"
  • his campaign has staged events before older, unenthusiastic crowds
  • "We have been declared dead many times. I think I'll be the underdog right up until a minute before the polls close in California."
  • "It's definitely not time for Republicans to push the panic button"

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rethinking energy use

It is finally coming clear to policy makers that we cannot continue down the path of energy waste; and ironically the endemic greed of the corporate world is driving awareness. By restricting oil production the need to rethink energy use message is reaching everyone.

Even given natural resources are finite there is still as much again to be recovered as we have ever used, but the greed factor, the artificial shortage, ensure bigger profits for longer. Whatever, as long as the world is finally taking notice.

Even those like me who are not addicted to the motor car pay the price of increased fuel costs. Industry - manufacturing, processing and transportation are enormous fuel users, and few of us can claim to be self sufficient in any significant way. If fact few can even travel to and from work, the places of this industry, in a fuel efficient way.

Along with other countries Australia is setting up a carbon emissions trading scheme Our farmers are already saying they will refuse to join any carbon emissions trading scheme in future which disadvantages them against competitors. We have created an industrial/producing infrastructure that will starve and cripple us if we do not adjust quickly.

I live in what used to be a rich agricultural area, still with a portion of the old fishing industry but land farming being greatly reduced in the immediate area. Still, the region continues to be productive, and virtually everything, from the local fish catch to fruit and vegetables, is shipped to major centres for processing, or at times simply for redistribution.

Early each morning large trucks lumber into town to load up shop shelves, ach evening large trucks head the other way carrying local produce away. If there were a major dislocation of the road transport system we would starve to death. As it stands we are simply required to pay more for inefficient double handling so producers can compete in overseas markets.

I would love to live on local fish, we have a brilliant variety, all close at hand. But go to the supermarket or even the fish co-op and we are offered fish and sea food imported from Asia. We are surrounded by rich dairy country but can’t sustain local processing because of the needs of international competition.

At the very least, to mitigate costly double handling, we need to be looking at a two tiered market – one serving local areas and a second if needed serving wider trade. True, issues of scales of economy reduce real energy savings, but small operators are innovators and would soon find ways of reducing carbon fuel use.

The world is being forced to change and distribution should be high on the agenda of change. Apart from anything else it would serve to rebuild the concepts of community.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Election 08 trivia bites - Coulter and Huffington

Now that Jesse Jackson has bought the sound bite into play it must be time to grab hold of those quick grab’s – Election 08 trivia bites.

The media can’t decide if it was off or out; balls or nuts and Jackson says he didn’t know the mic was on, and it was out of context.

While most of the trivia bites in this series have unambiguous meaning, they are still no doubt out of context, that is the fun of trivia. But we don’t want to lose these gems.

So let’s lead off with the undisputed queens of campaign commentary - Ann Coulter and her nemesis Arianna Huffington :

Coulter lists

The Ann Coulter hate List

  • Moderate Republicans like McCain (in the world of moderate Republicans an environmental event qualifies as a religious observance.)
  • McCain has ostentatiously attacked every issue of importance to conservatives and embraced every crackpot liberal idea.
  • The left's has a plan to exterminate the human race, called "global warming."
  • Not being ignorant "centrists," we know what a world-class disaster B. Hussein Obama will be.
  • "centrists" These are people who have no opinions because they know nothing about national issues.
  • "centrists" the ones who check the "not sure/no opinion" box on polls regarding the legalization of cannibalism
  • Words mean nothing to liberals
  • Hillary has won the popular vote in a Democratic primary, while Obambi has won under the rules
  • Hillary's more of a man than Gore ever was
  • Liberals seem to imagine the Constitution is a treatise on gay marriage
  • Americans have no constitutional right to vote for president, at all
  • According to five liberals on the Supreme Court, you do have a right to sodomy and abortion!

John McCain hate list according to Coulter.

  • the Christians (Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance.")
  • the conservatives
  • the Swift Boat Veterans ("dishonest and dishonorable.")
  • the gun-and-God clingers
  • the fanatical pro-lifers

Arianna Huffington

Quotes about AH

The highly opinionated voice behind The Huffington Post…

a clearinghouse of mostly worthless opinions, many of them from Hollywood

  • Townhall's Chuck DeFeo, on stage, rightly calls this out as a return to the worst of old media's Voice of God - Except this time, more overtly in service of a partisan agenda
  • Arianna's emphasis on defining The Truth underscores a leftist modus operandi: control the information flow
  • While conservatives scramble to control the downstream opinion flow, Huffington has a larger vision of her media empire as a source of pseudo-objective news
  • The left has long understood that to control the media is to control the first draft of history
  • "the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus,"
  • "an intellectual lap dancer,"
  • "only interested in power and money,"
  • “She wants to overthrow the government”

AH quotes

  • Iraq is an unmitigated disaster is an objective Truth and the media should never consider reporting on it as anything but
  • … voters have a choice between "the pro-life corporation party and the pro-choice corporation party"
  • "America is a fast-ticking time bomb . . .
  • American politics is becoming a sewer . . .
  • How long will it be before the field is filled with only psychopaths - candidates immune to the cost, to their families and themselves, of round-the-clock sleaze and slander?
  • The media - "whether it's due to lethargy or lechery, reporters are more and more frequently choosing the salacious over the significant, the expedient over the essential"
  • …the Obama campaign is making a very serious mistake. Tacking to the center is a losing strategy.
  • Watering down that brand is the political equivalent of New Coke. Call it Obama Zero.
  • Throughout the primary, Obama referred to himself as an "unlikely candidate." Which he certainly was -- and still is.
  • So why start playing to the political fence sitters -- staking out newly nuanced positions on FISA, gun control laws, expansion of the death penalty, and NAFTA?

    Quotes in AH articles
  • "The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of Weekend With Bernie [sic], handcuffed to a corpse."
  • "If we [Republicans] were dog food, they would take us off the shelf."

Gee, how many? International name calling

G8 summits have become an anachronism, with the latest unedifying talkfest likely to be the last, by that name at least. The G8 countries; Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are no longer the wealthiest or most influential nations. Neither do they represent any sort of realist interest group.

In fact this latest meeting was a G16, including Australia and the G5 emerging powers; Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. The G5 countries added a valid voice to proceedings, but not one conducive to resolving global problems.

When it comes to global warming for instance the G5 are arguing indignantly they shouldn’t have to forgo the opportunity to enrich their peoples just because the developed countries have bought the planet to the brink. Ok, perhaps not logical, but understandable.

The saddest part of the whole show was the performance of ‘Clown Prince’ George W. Clearly he was just enjoying a junket, and ignoring the attacks on largely US driven policies of the past. Often the outgoing leaders project an air of elder statesman, Bush projected the air of a buffoon.

Some reports

“Don't call it G-13, don't call it G-16,'' said Jose Angel Gurria, a Mexican who is secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in an interview. ``Just keep the quality of the dialogue.''

Every G-5 member will grow faster than the 1.3 percent rate projected for the “advanced economies'' this year, led by China at 9.3 percent and India at 7.9 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“G-8 is an outdated concept,'' said Sung Won Sohn, a former White House economist and retired president of Los Angeles-based Hanmi Financial Corp., the largest Korean-American bank, in an interview. “It is a rich-countries' party. It should be expanded to include key players in the world economy.''

The G-8 represents 870 million people who generate 62 percent of the world's economy. The so-called G-5 developing nations that attended the summit - China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa - account for 11 percent of global output and 2.8 billion people, 41 percent of the world's population.

G-8 criticisms weren't limited to climate. Taking aim at China, the G-8 leaders said some emerging economies are profiting from unfairly undervalued currencies. Countries including India, China and Vietnam also were rebuked for stockpiling foods such as rice and corn to cope with rising prices instead of exporting them.

Setting the scene

The G8 Summit was never always a talkfest, without the means to develop binding agreements. I guess when eight bullies meet that is never really going to happen, but at least gets issues on the table for other forums.

The positive aspect of broadening the range of participants, given nothing concrete can come of the meetings, is that we end up with a more realistic picture of the difficulties we face in resolving the most pressing problems. One of those ‘pictures’ is that the developing economies are going to expect some big sacrifices from us before they talk about climate controls.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Polling Dilemma

I keep being told that the polls in the US are confusing because McCain and Obama seem neck and neck. I expect the confusion is media generated. Filling in the gaps from the last post: Fifty State Campaign – I’d like to see that:

Obama 48% McCain 42%

That doesn’t seem neck and neck from where I’m sitting, it would represent a near landslide here. Mind you, the media are doing a number on Rudd here, suggesting his is in trouble, and he is polling wider than that.

But even if the Obama v McCain fight was truly neck and neck you would need to consider a wider range of data. How people respond to a voting intention question is quite different to the response to a poll on general feelings and attitudes.

Let’s look at a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:

  • 71% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track
  • 69% say America is in a state of decline

The President

  • 66% disapprove of President Bush
  • 60% hold a very negative view of the President
  • 73% disapprove of his handling of the economy
  • 64% disapprove of his leadership on Iraq

The Election

  • 67% are very interested in the election
  • McCain has a +5 positive rating (39% positive to 34% negative
  • Obama is + 15 (48% positive-33% negative)
  • The Republican Party is -19 (28% positive against 47% negative)
  • The Democratic Party is +11 (43%-32%)

While I was pulling these figures I noted, and then remembered that the media has consistently referred to Obama – Senator Clinton and Senator McCain. I’m not sure if the addition or absence of a title is a positive or negative, but someone has done those numbers too.

I don’t see anything short of a Democrat victory, regardless of media games. These situations take on a life of their own and voters are often inclined to express disinterest rather than offer information they are not confident of supporting.

America and the world are in for big change. Obama might not be the progressive voice you want any more than Rudd is the ideal here, but he is a start. The rest is up to us to create the agenda he and other leaders must work with.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fifty State Campaign – I’d like to see that

Seriously, as a long time political activist, I really will enjoy watching Obama’s grand plan roll out. Major, particularly national, election campaigns around the world have undergone an evolutionary process which locks in an element of negativity. Parties simply won’t support their own supporters in supposedly difficult contests.

To a great extent it comes down to logistics and resources, and possibly control factors. So campaign head office tends to cherry pick serious contests for all out assault and try and limit the rest to flag waving, at best.

It has always seemed to me, often supporting in one of the write off districts, that the process wastes, rather than conserves, valuable resources. Let’s face it, if you have supporters willing to stand up against the odds you have some highly committed people on side.

But more than that, which electoral districts, states or whatever the criteria is, makes the serious attack list, and those relegated to the ‘also rans’ is often made several years before a campaign, and doggedly adhered too. The choices make no real allowance for shifts in the on the ground dynamics.

Running a totally positive campaign does take resources, and commitment and trust that most campaign teams will stick with the agenda. The latter is always a worry, regardless of who is in and who is out. Local campaigns tends to go all out, regardless of party support. But real support would lock most into the agenda.

Obama’s gift

Democratic strategists must be shitting bricks; with Obama’s highly inclusive approach the old rule books need to be tossed out and new processed put in place. Rewriting the rules is probably never a bad thing, but for old campaigners it is scary. Just the potential for loss of control must cause sleepless nights.

Obviously Obama believes he has the money side covered, and campaign funds do flow with projected success. With the money question in hand Obama took the next obvious step, enlisting Democratic incumbents to strengthen their own positions by ensuring the election of more Democrat candidates.

Both those steps, the money and loyalty, are the stuff of self fulfilling prophesies. They are the basis of the art of politics, the creation of realities. Regardless of policy plusses or deficits Obama’s bold approach sets an agenda which holds the seeds of destruction or of incredible success.

But destruction only if his campaign army fail to be set on fire by the audacity. Already the signs are that Obama’s audacity is catching fire in an otherwise emotionally depressed America. Mounting economic gloom just adds to almost certain success.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Illogical economics

There is no reason why developed economies should always be in step, even when they have close interaction; but it seems confounding when thy are totally out of step. I’m referring to Canada here, as far as I can discern the only country currently talking about investigating market deregulation and competition policy.

A report from the Canadian federal Competition Policy Review Panel arrived with fanfare last week, but it is at least 20 years too late. While the rest of the world is starting to realize the folly of these market based policies there seems to be a belated push/pull to bring the maple leaf into the swamp.

The confounding part is; why now and why does anyone think the Canadian dynamic has changed sufficiently to accommodate these policies? We are talking of the only country to champion a true spirit of federalist disparity. Even if we did go into the tedious aspects of that disparity the fact remains, there is simply no chance of one unified policy across the country.

It is those few Canadians who persist with the dream of adopting a uniform market economy who need to look at the signs surfacing around the world. Those of us opposed to global economics, who think the scheme is little more than a corporate hijack of world economies, are described by advocates as ‘flat world’ devotees.

But those same free trade advocates will assure you that:

There's no preordained direction for the world economy --only an undetermined future that will take the shape of whatever ideas and policies we choose to uphold. The lack of an intellectual defence of capitalism has left free markets vulnerable. "The power of the state is reasserting itself," Forbes

Illogical alternatives

While free trade advocates decry the return to nationalist sentiment around the globe we still need to be aware of the illogical aspects of protecting markets and industries. Just looking at some emerging issues of free trade:

According to the Journal of Economic Issues, in the US economic deregulation of electric and gas utilities has not succeeded in lowering price, promoting greater consumer choice, constraining market power or improving infrastructure performance.

But on the protection side we have a Canadian situation where Ontario is producing more cattle and hogs than it has home-grown corn to feed them. The feed has to come from elsewhere, entailing additional freight costs, but it is not coming from Canada, it is coming from the US.

They are buying and shipping feed from the US then selling the produce back again. It doesn’t make sense. To be cost efficient Ontario farmers must be in a position to deliver the whole production cycle; to fail that calls for dubious subsidies.

The term pragmatic has long been used as a put down, generally referring to politicians who desire to line their own pockets. It is now starting to emerge as a description for the sort of economics we need to develop. A pragmatic form of economics would insist on sustainable markets, protected from dumping and natural disaster and perhaps offering marketing scales of economy.

I tend to focus on Canada because the country’s dynamic does not lend itself to top down changes in policy direction. The country’s provinces jealously protect their own powers, which represent an impenetrable tangle. Canada will not become an unregulated free market anytime soon, but they do need to sort out some market logic.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Time to rebuild an education infrastructure

"The education gap between the United States and the rest of the industrialized world is as real as the trade gap between the United States and China.” Strong American Schools' ED in 08 Chairman Roy Romer

“Experts cite strong link between student achievement and economic growth; New poll reveals Americans believe the quality of a country's education system has a big impact on its economic prosperity…” Fox/Newswire

I know I have argued the point for years, but experts have consistently assured me that it was far more important to cut spending on social infrastructure, including education. Not only that, governments the world over have done just that.

My argument, inspired by that great shopkeepers daughter Margaret Thatcher, has been that if you don’t replace stock, at the very least, one day you wake up with empty shelves. More than that stock on the shelves should be continually tuned to customer needs, and you can’t do that if you don’t reinvest.

America is now experiencing an education gap, the shelves are emptying and not being restocked. Since 1998 the US has fallen from equal first to seventh among industrialized countries.

I’m not crowing, Australia and Canada have both allowed education funding to slip over the past few decades. I often felt the downgrading was inspired by a conservative distain for educated thinkers. Obviously educationalist fell behind in arguing the cause and it is an international disgrace that economics faculties totally folded.

The simple fact is, education, libraries and all the mix of skills that come with them simply weren’t seen as valued short term benefits. And short term is all we have been doing for years.