Monday, May 21, 2012

Croak of the Day: Jeff Sharlet

(Well, yesterday, anyway.)

"@JeffSharlet Masked men in all black, wearing strange armor, refuse to ID selves, carrying sticks cld be weapons. Turns out cops have a black bloc, too."

(After FireDogLake, link.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Centrist Fiscal Responsibility

The center-right coalition which had governed Greece since 1975 broke apart in the last election. The conservative "socialist" (though perhaps it is best described as SINO--socialist in name only) PASOK party lost, in favor of more leftist parties, and the fascist Golden Dawn. The largest plurality in the election went, unsurprisingly, to the more conservative centrist New Democracy party, with the second largest to a left to far-left coalition, and the third to the fascists.

The loss of PASOK, and the realization that in Greece the "centrist" coalition had broken up, led me to reflecting on how similar Greek politics was to US. In the USA, it is the Democrats, the slightly further left element of the centrist coalition, who have suffered the most in the breaking of that coalition. In Greece, PASOK. In the USA, the Democrats have responded by becoming more conservative; in parliamentary Greece it is possible that PASOK will fail entirely, or at least become a marginal party.

I am struck by how the economic history of Greece under the centrists parallels the economic history of the USA under the centrists. The corruption was worse in Greece, with widespread tax evasion and over-borrowing in prosperous times. But in the USA, the financialists stole our health care and banking systems and the peacetime militarism has been huge, so it is not like the USA was corruption-free.

Centrists consistently claim to be fiscally responsible, and they lie. With their military over-spending, their over-borrowing to cover over-spending (as under Reagan and Bush II as well as in the last decade of Greek history), with their crony capitalism, with their tax-base decreasing austerity policies, they are anything but fiscally responsible. Their claims of fiscal responsibility, in entire, are delusions which much of society accepts, apparently because of the widespread belief that pain is more to be trusted than pleasure.

If you went to a doctor, came away feeling worse, and kept feeling worse, while the doctor kept claiming you were getting better, would you go back? Yet that is what centrists and austerians ask us to do. To Orwell's three slogans of the Party: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," "Ignorance is strength," I think I would add two more: "Poverty is wealth" and "Sickness is health."  After decades of centrist policies, and the abysmal failure of those policies, I don't see any reasons to believe at all.
A focus on debt, and debt alone, in government budgeting is fiscal irresponsibility.
Conservatism is as much in love with violence and pain as nihilist anarchism, and conservatism is far more popular.
I believe that health is health, and wealth is wealth. Much simpler that way.