Schumers protectionist stance is regrettable. He is using a day of heightened nationalist sentiment (Memorial Day) in a very dangerous way. He isn’t reacting to increased use of overseas calling centers, which have been declining over the last three years, but instead is reacting to an increased nationalist public sentiment in the US at a time of hardship and to which he wishes to appeal. I hope these aren’t his real views. He should know better.
The reality despite the pandering we hear, is that we need to encourage free trade, and are members of the WTO. We would be brought before the WTO if we took government action designed to reduce free trade in products or services, and would then have to reverse the legislation. It isnt just policy, but a realization that we have far more to loose by isolating ourselves. There is no future in being a high cost economy just for the sake of nationalism.
Dont think that global companies dont read these comments and reduce their commitment to the US for fear of nationalist policies and unequal treatment. We no longer have such a strong local financial system, and need global companies to want to offer cost effective services and to invest heavily in the US, if we are to recover. It is a choice. But please don’t follow people like Schumer’s rhetoric. He isn’t thinking it through, or more likely is just talking unrealistically in order to win nationalist votes. Either way it is not helping us frame effective policies.
There is an election coming and governments want to appear strong, but that isn’t an acceptable reason for killing over 350 people in a neighbouring territory. We are told that this is due to rocket attacks. The actual rockets are largely home made mortars and have in total killed 20 people in the last 8 years. So we have to ask if 350 dead and 1400 injured in a couple of days can really be a reaction to 20 people in 8 years. If the impact of the rocket and mortar attacks was really more than a talking point Israel would be seeking peace rather than bombing the police stations, government departments and university of Gaza. The majority of the 240 initial attacks were bombing all of the Gaza strip’s police stations.
We are told that the ceasefire didn’t work and that Israelis just want to live like anybody else in the world but this ignores the fact that Palestinians also want to live like anybody else in the world in a viable country. Looking after ones family and getting on with life is the universal driver it is just that for a small number of politicians their actions to maintain their status have a disproportionate effect on others.
The US maintenance of Israel’s strength by guaranteeing Israeli government debt and using the US legal system to make boycotts of Israeli products a crime even outside US borders give Israel too strong a defensive cloak where it doesn’t seem necessary to appeal to global goodwill for funding or sales. This is unhealthy for all because at some time this arrangement will be tested and broken.
The suicide bombers and home made mortars are symptoms of frustration at the way their lives are disregarded by their heavily armed and financed neighbors, including Egypt, and these repeated attacks on Palestine and Lebanon only perpetuate the radicalization of generations. If Israel needed peace it would have it. It’s need for a political pawn is far greater.
I just can’t resist this Bill Maher video. The atheist view point is so rare because there is one thing the many religious communities can agree on, and that is denouncing the atheist. It is a mandatory comment in network TV programs. The “They all seek god at the end” comment to appease the religiously minded. So many people in US culture will completely cut you off if you aren’t religious that it is far too big a bottom line career risk to let anybody know you are not a religious believer. So good on you Bill. Religion, like nationalism / patriotism, is often used as a tool consciously in power politics and as such, while we need to be tolerant, it has a price, and we may not want to condone it. The charitable view is that for some it has become a tool unconsciously.
I use to have mixed feelings about Michael Moore but the sheer absence of any other political debate and his tally of good points made in his films keeps me wanting more from him. After his film about Flint I thought of it as a collection of great characters in an independent film with some unrealistic political commentary but since then there have been times when Michael Moore and Al Franken seemed to be the only political opposition in the US. The only democrat to ever raise a subject appeared to be Al Gore and good on him for that. We need more debate and to do that somebody needs to be able to stand up and speak. And that would be much easier if we had a safe environment for public speech.
Michael Moore’s latest film, “Slacker Uprising”, is available here.
At the anti war protests this Saturday I was thrilled to see that so many people were taking an interest in the politics behind the occupation of Iraq but had to note how completely absent both the Democratic and Republican parties are. The void is being filled by a variety of socialist groups who appeared to be the only people raising the genuine political issues of our time.
Somehow the limitation of US politics, to only two parties being able to get on ballots nationally, has reduced the level of debate to a cozy duopoly that avoids any difficult debates. For example about the openness of opportunity for individuals, The American Dream or how far our current market economy can take the people of world. There were many good questions being raised in leaflets and CDs at this event which are largely missing from the media debate. Having a political discourse which isn’t familiar with basic political arguments is risky.
Our structuring of the media with funding from advertising, rather than to educate and inform, has led to an arrangement where, like the work environment, a politically correct manner avoids discussing anything deeply political. A TV program can’t easily question the value to the public of being sold excessive insurance, financial plans with excessive fees, combustion powered vehicles or teaching the public the symptoms to describe to their doctors, if twenty two minutes per hour of your show promotes these products. It is a barrier both from a point of view that one knows one is rocking the boat and risking the disdain of management and also just from the point of view of the media content looking ideologically consistent. Everybody tends to be co-opted. It would be unpleasant not to be.
It is appropriate that these thoughts are coming up in the context of the War because in the same way as the need for return on capital causes the message being sent to the public to be one of excessive and even destructive consumerism. The military economy, which is over a third of federal spending, is focused on making their market (our politicians) aware of every possible fear and possible mechanized solution on offer. It is our willingness to accept the debate being driven by peoples understandable need to get a return on capital that has caused us to accept the low level of political assessment that we have engaged in and the brutally unnecessary results both for the Iraqi people and our own.
So we continue to ignore the facts and follow the lead both as voters and as politicians of those with a well funded message rather than questioning the real effects on real people and asking if the world is being made a better place or not. This complacency needs to change.