Friday, 4 January 2013

Barnaby is Right*

Australia was one of the first countries in the world to introduce universal suffrage.

It's not often I find myself agreeing with Barnaby Joyce, but on non-compulsory voting, his comments are worthwhile.

There seems to be a tendency within the Queensland LNP to pick up all the craziest notions from across the Pacific, and air them here.

The non-compulsory voting meme, of course comes from the same school of conservative thought as Mitt Romney's famous 47% remark.

It goes something like this - People who elect governments we disagree with, must (because we disagree with them) be unfit to vote. Many of them wouldn't vote unless there is a penalty attached if they don't, so let's remove the penalty.

This meme is front and centre on many right wing blogs at the moment, and has quite a head of steam. It gets pushed to the extreme with the notion (strongly argued) that having everyone voting will eventually mean the end of civilisation as we know it. In other words, most people simply don't know what's good for them.

Strangely, this idea is pushed on many so-called Libertarian blogs.

It's a kind of fascist elitism which is probably not going to get much of a run in this country, but it certainly has a hold with some in the USA.

*Excuse the pun.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Staring at the Abyss

Will they or won’t they?

The Yanks, that is, go over the dreaded fiscal cliff.

On one level, I couldn’t give a rat’s, but on another, the one in which my wallet dwells, I’m more than a little bothered.

Like most self-funded retirees, most of my assets are in shares. If the stock market takes a dive (as we’re told by those who pretend to know that it will) if it happens, my wallet will be one casualty.

Generally, US politics represents the theatre of the absurd. It’s only slightly more entertaining than an undergrad’s production of “Waiting for Godot”. I never could hack Beckett, but was forced whilst at Uni to sit through such a show.

I didn’t enjoy it, but it seemed to make the difference between a credit and a distinction at the time.

There is no such incentive to observe US politics, except perhaps for some kind of morbid fascination. It is after all, a bit like watching endless reruns of Big Brother, but without any mystery about the outcome. US politics is entirely and dully predictable.

There are always goodies and baddies, compromise and collaboration are unknown, and the fundamentalists, of all brands, exert an influence out of kilter with their numbers. The goddamns have God on their side, after all, and that makes all the difference.

It’s worth considering how it got to be this way – their position on the edge of the cliff, that is.

I wonder did it have anything to do with the idea of cutting taxes during wartime. And we’re talking about two simultaneous wars. That was an absolutely suicidal policy. Could it be that the US is now reaping the whirlwind?

American corporations pay less tax than any other country in the G20 except Japan. They rank 19 out of 20. They will at some point have to face the absurdity of their being the exception to all the rules. Taxation is the price we pay for civilization.  

Meanwhile, they spend more than the rest of the world combined on war and the materials of war. They have hit the wall. Exceptionalism has gone to the edge, and is now peering into the abyss
(You never put a full stop after "abyss").

That’s OK, if it was a problem just for the Yanks.

It’s not.

There is a solution.

Given that only slightly more than half the population can be bothered to vote at Congressional and Presidential elections, why can’t self-funded retires in Australia (and other countries affected) be given a vote in the US elections?

Didn’t the Yanks fight a war about being given a say in matters affecting their hip pockets at some stage in their history?

Seems only fair.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...