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February 26, 2009

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it would b good if america became socially aware

I appreciate that you are up-front with your socialist views. Also that you recognise that Barry H. is a socialist.
Thanks for your always honest commentary.
Or was that Commy-tary?
:-0 :-0 :-0

;-)

By Dick Morris 02.25.2009 Published in the New York Post on February 25, 2009

With a speech to match the most eloquent os State of the Union Addresses, with strains of FDR and JFK and a touch of Winston Churchill thrown in, President Obama has clearly staked his presidency on the outcome of the economic crisis.

Whether or not you agree with his prescription for recovery (I don’t), it’s clear that he’s not hedging his bets. If it works, his place in history is assured. If it fails, so is his early retirement.

The speech made it apparent that the Obama administration’s response to this crisis will either go down in history as a success that Americans will admire for decades, or become a case study in economic failure that students and scholars will study and pick apart for generations.


The speech began where it needed to begin, with a bold affirmation of faith in the rebuilding and recovery of America. Then Obama listed some of the more popular parts of his spending-stimulus program.

The specific items he recalled from the package were attractive. But Americans know, by now, that much of the program (largely unmentioned last night) is a mountain of pork - money spent for the sake of spending it to spur recovery, not to achieve particularly important ends.

Obama did not seek to justify the spending for the specific purposes to which it is dedicated. Courageously, he said that he passed it because it will work. For his sake, it better. But I doubt it.

Then he spoke unconvincingly about his bank-rescue plan. Promising to punish and regulate bankers even as he stressed the need to restore their confidence, he reminded me of the facetious sign posted in a friend’s workplace: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

How he plans to restore the nerve and confidence of our bankers as he castigates them is unclear. But, then, so is his program for financial rescue. One suspects that he knows full well that he will nationalize the banks. But even that step assumes that politicians can do what bankers can’t: Act quickly, ruthlessly and honestly - never a notable attribute of elected officials.

Halfway through the speech, the president got to the minefields of Social Security and health-care reform. He avoided any specifics, but it’s clear that he plans to salvage the former with increases in the payroll tax and implement the latter by government rationing of health care. If you like your HMO, you’ll love Obama’s health plan.

And then Obama affirmed that he’ll support big tax increases on the richest 2 percent of American families. Disregarding the fact that these households already pay upward of half of all income taxes, while earning only a quarter of the national income, he has singled out the entrepreneurs, professionals, innovators and businesspeople of America for taxation.

Oh, but he won’t raise taxes until he’s had a few years to stimulate the economy. How many in that 2 percent feel like one of those huge hogs in the Chicago stockyards, being fattened up to slaughter the next year?

Can all this work? Can Obama get banks to lend even as he terrorizes them? Can he get the engines of our economy back to work even as he announces that he’ll be taking away more of their earnings? Can he persuade the American people to accept bureaucrats deciding their health-care choices? And can his economic stimulus survive a huge increase in the payroll tax on the most productive citizens?

Probably not;Obama likely won’t succeed. This speech will be viewed as his high-water mark - the time before we came to realize how flawed is his understanding of economics and how supreme is his commitment to expanded spending. It will be seen as a sort of age of innocence before we realized what he had in mind.

Socialism Sucks.

In a period of two weeks during August, more than 11,000 elderly French men and women died of heat stroke. It is important to note this is not nearly the scandal in France that it would be in America. In fact, upon hearing the news, French president Jacques Chirac decided to stay on vacation in Quebec, Canada.

Why not? Because, in the words of British historian Paul Johnson, the French – like most Europeans, and like most left-thinking people anywhere – love ideas more than people. The average educated European can intelligently discuss Hegel or Matisse almost as well as the average educated American – who probably never heard of Hegel or Matisse – can discuss real estate or sports.

Europe has given the world Marxism, communism, fascism, Nazism, racism and socialism, all rotten ideas that have caused immeasurable human suffering. But for Europeans and their ideological twins on the American left and at universities, ideas are not judged by their ability to ameliorate human suffering or reduce evil, but by their complexity and apparent profundity. An idea is not good because it produces good – that's unromantic American pragmatism – it is good because it sounds good.

Eleven thousand unnecessary deaths occurred in France largely because socialism inevitably breeds hedonism, selfishness and callousness.

As ironic as it may seem, but the fact is that socialism – i.e., cradle-to-grave state welfare – makes people worse.

First, the socialist mind loathes work. In France, the legal length of the work week is 35 hours. Working hard to make more money is an American value that is held in contempt by the Left. The New York Times recently featured an article describing the death of the Protestant work ethic in secular, socialist Europe and the thriving of that ethic in America – and that this explains the far greater productivity and affluence of America. The Judeo-Christian tradition values work; secularism doesn't. And as we all know from watching our children, people with a lot of time on their hands have character problems.

Second, socialism values equality more than liberty. The Norwegian government recently passed a law that the boards of its largest corporations must be half female. The California left – the Democratic Party – just passed a law that no employer may fire a male employee who wears women's clothing at work. Because the Left holds liberty (except sexual liberty) in lower esteem, Europe has raised a generation that does not value liberty nearly as much as Americans do (though we're getting there).

Third, socialism teaches you to avoid taking care of other people. The state will – why should you? If people in France and elsewhere in Europe take less care of their aging parents, it is because they are taught from childhood to allow others – i.e., the state – to take care of everybody. Just as we saw in America when the state stepped in to take care of women who had children without a husband, these women increasingly refused to marry and felt little compunction about having more babies out of wedlock. The bigger the government, the worse the people.

Fourth, as a result of this socialist mindset, people in socialist countries give little charity, while Americans give vast amounts (just as Americans in conservative states give more charity per capita than people in liberal ones).

Fifth, the larger the state, the more callous it becomes. Twentieth-century evil was made possible in large measure by the bureaucratic mentality – the type of person who is merely a cog in huge governmental machine, collectively all-powerful but individually powerless to do anything except take and execute orders. The bigger the state, the colder its heart. (It is also true that the bigger the corporation, the more callous its heart. But unlike the state, corporations have competition and have no police powers.)

The future of the world is either European secular socialism, Islamic totalitarianism or the unique American combination of Judeo-Christian values and political and economic liberty.

Few Americans are attracted to the second possibility, but vast numbers look to Europe as a model. One hopes that the next time they do, they will note the 11,000 elderly dead in France. But don't bet on it.

Where were the government vehicles?

A question for Condor: Do you currently hold a passport, and have you been to Europe?

If you do not hold a passport, then you are like 75% of your fellow Americans who also do not hold passports and presumably have not actually seen how other people around the world live.

I have been to Europe, and what you say is not true. Europeans take much better care of their countries than people in the USA.
I remember driving to San Francisco with a friend years ago, and going to a fast food restaurant, and seeing someone in the parking lot simply toss their trash out the window into the parking lot even though the trash can was just a few feet away.

I didn't see that over there. I believe it is their secular nature: they have moved far beyond the Judeo-Christian values of "God will take care of us" to "no, we must take care of ourselves".

Having been born in Europe and holding a European passport (and a Green Card), I love the old place, but I’d be cautious about adopting the socialist policies of the continent.

Unemployment insurance is a great idea, since it’s funded by the employees themselves during the good times. But of course we have that already. Government funded education is a good idea as well. We have that at the primary and secondary level. I wouldn’t mind seeing it at the university level but it’s not feasible at the current levels of enrollment.

I’m against going much further than this, however. Once the government takes responsibility for primary aspects of life (housing, childcare, food, medicine) people become dependents, not free citizens. This is a mark of failure, not of virtue.

The notion of “governmental kindness” is downright sinister. Yes, we should wish for a more humane (though not deluded) citizenry, where people stop and help each other, but a “kind” government? With socialism you get a powerful government. Whether it’s going to be kind is a crapshoot. In any case, you trade liberty for dependence.

I’m guessing the people who extol the way of life in Europe are either not talking about government at all or they are utopian, middle class leftists who saw what Europe can present to the tourist, not to the person struggling from the lower ranks to get ahead. Europe rewards dependence but it often places obstacles to dynamic individuals. America has far more social mobility.

Nw’s comments are hilarious. They start with a snobby attack against Condor (who for all we know is better traveled than any of us) and then proceeds to talk nonsense. If anyone believes that there’s no trash in Europe, they’ve seen a very small part of the continent!

He/she gets the socialist mentality exactly backwards: the secular golden age of Europe has passed. Leaving aside the impact of a rapidly growing Muslim population, the socialist mentality is a RETURN to earlier values, not to Judeo-Christian values as a whole, but to the values of serfdom.

How different is “God will take care of us” than “the State will take care of us”? Judeo-Christian values emphasized the value and the moral independence of the individual. Much of the political progress of the West has been a matter of extension of liberty to a broader swath of the population. However, the argument used to be “I am worthy by virtue of my self-reliance, and can prove you aristocrats are no better than me"; now it is “I’m entitled,” full stop. The notion that the liberties of citizenship correspond to the responsibilities of citizenship doesn't even come up.

Again, I'm not uncomfortable with some minimal welfare provisions, but the idea of government-as-benefactor will bankrupt a people both morally and fiscally. That’s actually happening in Europe; it has happened here to various degrees, and it will happen more in proportion to our adoption of socialism/dependence on the state.

Thanks to Idler for saving me a lot of typing.

When I speak of Judeo-Christian values, I am not refering to the dogmatic religious aspects, but rather the the values of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and the value of succeeding or failing based on your initiative and talents. Entitlements weaken rather than strengthen a society by rewarding lassitude and punishing accomplishment.

Well said, Condor. I agree with your basic view, though I would quibble with some points, such as what I take to be your overestimation of educated Europeans' ability to discuss Matisse and Hegel.

Europeans have actually moved to the right on economic issues somewhat, and in some cases outperform the U.S. in terms of economic liberty. The European financial system was already in some respects more liberalized than the U.S. financial system, which is why Gramm-Leach-Bliley was passed. It's funny to reflect on that: the Europeans are supposedly so wise and publicly spirited, and GLB is blamed (absurdly) as a dangerous deregulatory move, when in fact it was crafted in imitation of Europe!

Mark my words: as the U.S. government seeks more stringent regulation, other countries will take advantage of the inefficiencies that will inevitably ensue. While some kind of systemic risk monitoring may be necessary, the government will go further than it ought to, such as in the idiotic notion of interfering with compensation. I just got off the phone with an Indian friend now based in New York who said her husband is going to seek a position in Asia because he anticipates regulations pushing business offshore. A Reuters story today reported that half of bankers would consider leaving the country if a cap were put on their cash bonuses. Governments pay for tinkering with the market, and this one will for the proposed caps on government-backed banks' executive compensation, to give just one example.

Now, to the extent that Europe has liberalized, its situation has improved. However, European entitlement programs remain a millstone around the collective neck.

The continent has seen huge increases in violent crime, and owing to immigation policies and illiberal conditions that harm the immigrants, they have seen civil unrest that would shock Americans. I'm sure Nw wasn't in the banlieus surrounding Paris, where it's no longer unsusual for hundreds of cars to be torched in a single night.

A P.S. to my post: Americans often erroneously believe that the United States is the richest country in the world. Actually, it isn't. A bunch of European "socialist" countries have higher per capita gross national products. See:
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Socialism's+success:+socialism,+once+abhorrent+to+most+Americans,+is...-a0192851294
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"According to the CIA World Factbook, nine European countries place ahead of the United States in terms of per capita Gross Domestic Product--Luxembourg, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Netherlands--all socialist countries. The United Kingdom, Austria, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany come up close on the heels of the United States. Considering the fact that these countries generally have less natural resources than the United States, and they offer extensive government services--free medical care, public transportation, generous unemployment income, and retirement benefits--are socialist systems better than free-market systems, such as in the United States? And do high doses of socialism boost economic growth? It would seem so."
-----------------
This article goes on to offer explanations for why the U.S. performs so poorly economically. But the fact remains that nations with greater government involvement in the economy do better than the United States. Here's another example regarding the Canadian banking system:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/28/opinion/28tedesco.html
-----------------
"Has the world turned upside down? America, the capital of capitalism, is pondering nationalizing a handful of banks. Meanwhile, Canada, whose banking system had long been notorious for its stodgy practices and government coddling, is now being celebrated for those very qualities."

Suggest you move to Europe Brian, I have family there and they hate the taxes and medical care, but looks like a good place for you to move. I don't see an anchor tied to your a__ so head out with God's speed.

Mort, I don't need to move to Europe. Europe is coming here. Surely and not so slowly now, the United States is having the good sense to meld the best of American free enterprise with the best of European social democracy.

As TIME magazine points out in this week's issue, our banks are already effectively nationalized. Canada's banks historically have had much greater government control, and now they are the strongest in the world.

Our health care system is inefficient, expensive, and ineffective. But by moving in the direction Obama (and the public) wants to go, we'll become more European like. I'm looking forward to it.

Ditto with our energy and education policies. The past two elections show that people are tired of having this country sink into second-rate status. We can learn a lot from the success of the rest of the world (most other industrialized countries have much faster broadband, and trains, for example).

Like I said, bring on European socialism, or social democracy. We're going to love it.

Obama won the election with a big majority of Americans voting for what he proposed. He said what he'd do and it's what he is doing. Republicans are poor losers to say the least. We had a president for 8 years that didn't even win his first election, lost the popular vote, had fraud in Florida and a Supreme Court to hand him the job, but Democrats made the best of it. The true patriots in this country are not on the fascists right!

Rain said: "...but Democrats made the best of it."

--Now that's a laugh!

Excuse me Tucson but after 9/11, Bush had 80% approval ratings. That requires a few democrats. Democrats did not threaten a revolution. They paid their taxes and watched as Bush did worse than they dreamed but his approval ratings went below 50% mainly after the revelation of torture, revelation about lies getting us into the war, betraying a covert agent whose husband displeased the administration, and on it went. He earned the disapproval he ended up having and eventually it spread to Republicans. Enough to cause the last election to turn the other way to be sure the US changed its direction. Bush still got a lot of what he wanted through Congress without threats of filibusters which the right is using right now as a club. I say let them stand up there and filibuster. Then we'll see if they mean any of what they are claiming. Filibusters used to require some physical effort. Even now the dems are being too soft in not demanding that is what happens if enough Republicans want to object.

Bush had his chance and he got us into a war that we are still 'quagmired' in even when he was warned by what his own father had said it was what would happen. He gave tax cuts that have led us to where we are with this deficit and tell me again how they improve the economy.

What Obama is doing is exactly what he said he would do and what the majority of Americans voted hoping he would do. What a shock.

Americans voted against Bush 3, not socialism.
But go ahead and push that pendulum farther,, farther,,,, farther,,,,,,

Theres an election coming up....
......farther,,,,,,, COME ON: PUSH!!!!

If they don't like his policies, why did his approval ratings jump after the state of the nation speech, Harry? Went from 60% or so to 80%. Now it won't stay there but it sounds to me like most Americans liked what they heard.

The right pushed it as far as they could during the last 8 years with fighting wars with no evidence or reason, lowering taxes during said war, spending with no accountability like what went into Iraq and no idea where, reducing regulation. Yes, there was a bounce against that (not to mention the ticket the right put up) but I think people want to try something new. It hasn't been working so well as it's been.

BTW I don't believe Obama is a socialist. Not that being a socialist is as bad a word as being a fascist which is a lot of what we have seen the last 8 years.

I think a lot of Americans now see that no isn't an answer to economic and social problems. There has to be what comes next? Should we do research as other countries do, develop new products, take the health insurance burden off industry, fix our infrastructure, regulate the financial instituions to keep them from running off with our investments?

How would you as an individual make your schools better? How would you build a bridge with your tax cut? How do you make sure the food you buy isn't loaded with salmonela or e-coli?

Going back isn't an option. I think Americans recognize we don't live in a frontier world. We have to face real problems as they are, not as we wish they were.

I tried to read Limbaugh's speech to CPAC but could only go so far before the platitudes, repeats, got to me and only one real proposal. I have heard his show and that speech just repeated what he uses for his intros time after time. It was saying people on the right are great folk, love everybody, want the best for them, government gets in the way, now give us our tax cut.

Obama is not proposing any huge increase on taxes for those making over $250,000. It's just back to what it was when Bush took office and began running up our deficit. Obama will give a tax cut to those in the middle. We will see if this works but why not see first and then whine.

It makes me so mad when the right, who got Bush in the first place with a minority of the popular vote and a fraudulent vote in Florida and a Supreme Court decision to seat him, and now they cannot accept an actual loss. Now that was a reason to whine but Democrats sucked it up. Gore didn't try to challenge the results. He, as Nixon before him (who also had an election stolen by fraud), put the country first. That's not the modern Republican party. For them it's all about them.

Incidentally I am not crazy about all of what Obama is doing. I didn't ever figure I would be. Going into Afghanistan is a big problem. I understand the issue that the Taliban are taking over Pakistan, Pakistan with nuclear weapons, but what is our putting more troops into Afghanistan going to do for that? There goes any chance of saving money from leaving Iraq-- if we even do that when all is said and done. Unlike Republicans for 8 years, I plan to watch what Obama does and keep an eye on whether he follows through on his campaign promises. So far he is-- right wing might be in shock but even Afghanistan is what he said he'd do.

Rain, it sounds to me like you are not a pendulum pusher. I'm not either.
It's the Ultra, Ultra, Ultra, Ultra types that push so far to the extreme that the pendulum eventually slips from their grip and falls into the hands of extremists on the other side.
Elections will be upon us before we know it.

Obama said the same thing, Harry, and that if he didn't come through he'd not be re-elected. It is as it should be. I just hope the Republicans put up someone viable next time. Or maybe that a third party develops that is fiscally conservative (like the word means) and socially liberal. I think with the right person running, a third party might do pretty well if this thing doesn't turn around in the next 4 years.

I agree! Why not? Most Americans are already lazy and would rather watch American Idol than take interest in what our government is doing. It would probably be a big improvement if the government began making decisions for and taking care of Americans, because they sure as hell are not doing a very good job of decision making and care taking themselves.

Again! I agree! America needs Socialism! Americans have turned into a bunch of lazy and ignorant people that would rather sit and watch "American Idol" than take interest in government. Americans simply make poor decisions and are not capable of caring for their selves. Government needs to make our decisions and care for us. Obama please get us out of this mess that our poor decisions got us into.

The new USSA:

Who would the government be comprised of? Italians? Nigerians? Alligators? Wouldn't the government be run by Americans that "simply make poor decisions and are not capable of caring for their selves."? Why should we think the government can make better decisions? Look what a fine job they have done overseeing this mess we are now in. You're reasoning is pathetic.

Americans spend 15 % of gdp for health care, Europeans 10% or less (the highest is Germany with 10%). Europeans live at least 2 years longer. Reason is the better quality of life in Europe. And better health care.

At the beginning of the 20th century Americans where 5-7cm taler than Europeans, now the average American is 1.69 cm, the talles are Dutch man with 1.82 cm. Reason is the better quality of life in Europe. And better health care.

A United Nation Study compares the quality of life in cities around the world (it has 39 different factors). 8 of the top 10 cities are in Europe. Top 3 cities are Swiss 4th is Frankfurt. New York has highest quality of life in the US. Rank # 33.

Almost the same result was published by the Mercer consulting group. In their study Honolulu was best US City (Rank #28).

Education: 40% of American adults have the reading ability of an 11 year old or worse.

PISA Study: The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is world-wide test of 15-year-old schoolchildren's scholastic performance by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Aim is to test and compare schoolchildren's performance across the world. US is 31 from 41 tested countries. European and Asian countries are the best.


Infrastructure: Many former communist/socialist countries in Europe have a better infrastructure than the US. Some areas in the US have an infrastructure of a 3rd world country (remember Katarina).

What is European Socialism anyway? Which EU member is socialist?

Best regards from NYC

immune...You make some great points. I just read a TIME magazine story about Denmark's wind turbine industry, which was government supported back in the late 1970s and now leads the world. Plus, Denmark is largely energy self-sufficient, in contrast to the United States.

So much for unfettered free enterprise. Europe is showing that a collaboration between government and private business is the best route to go. We already have that here, but we're unwilling to call it what it is: social democracy.

I used "socialism" in this post to be a bit provocative. I'd answer your question by saying, no EU member is socialist. Not really. But if you listen to American right-wing talk radio, they all are. People here are amazingly ignorant about the pluses of the European way of doing things.

Americans have had a major party in their country who advocates that Americans stay ignorant of science, economics and anything but having faith that they (or their leaders) talk directly to god for wisdom and guidance. The schools are being dumbed down with testing instead of teaching and who do you think that suits? A group of people who want to think they are superior to anybody in the world and choosing leaders who reassure them that it's true; so our schools can go down hill, our research be underfunded but we're still the best. Hopefully it's not too late to turn this thing around

Ha Ha, you bloody wankers. Go on with your Socialism. When your dollar looses value, China's going to spank your arse. Piss off you EU posers.

US is 3rd place in global IT technology behind Denmark and Sweden:


http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090326/ap_on_hi_te/eu_global_technology

So perhaps the "socialist" state allows more focus where it counts, versus the US market driven at all costs disfocus (that also ran the financial system into the ground).

Hines,
If you like European socialism so much and hate the U.S. and think the U.S. is so backward, then why don't you move to Europe? I'll even pay for your plane ticket. It would be worth a one way ticket just to get a Marxist piece of crap like you out of my country. Delta's ready when you are, Comrade.

Scott, I love my country. That's why I want to see the United States become an even greater country -- by learning from the Europeans, who do many things much better than we do (health care, high speed ground transportation, quality of life, broadband access, and so on).

Brian: Good luck, but you'd probably have more chance of persuading Oregon to join Canada (much nicer place) than persuading your fellow Americans to adopt any kind of darned pinko Euro-socalism. Still, glad to see yet more evidence that those lazy Euros (and Canadians and Australians and New Zealanders) have somehow managed to succeed in making their cities nicer places to live than most American (or - sadly - British) cities:

http://www.mercer.com/qualityofliving

Your comments about "kind-hearted government" and Europe are so naive I really wondered if they were satirical at first. Summering in Europe is very different from trying to make a living there. Yes there are things we can learn from them--appreciation for good food, fashion, history, environmentalism--but little in the way of social policy. Not a single European country has a birth rate that is at replacement level, and unlike the U.S., they do not allow immigration to swell enough to compensate their lack of natural growth. What you have is burgeoning population of elderly that is going to have to be supported by the taxes of a shrinking youth--and taxes in Europe are already blasphemous by U.S. standards. Unless they cut back on social programs, let more immigrants in, or have more babies, they are headed for trouble. Every European gov't is concerned about this, to the point where the current French Admin is trying to adopt a more American approach to social policy, for example. This is not a lot of right-wing hot air or fear-mongering. I am completing an MA in European Studies at NYU at the moment and have had to research extensively on these issues. And after a semester of researching the status of immigrants and racial minorities in Europe, I'd only recommend moving there if: A) you're prepared to deal with a lot of 60s-style bureaucratic racism, or B) you're white.

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