Saturday, 20 November 2010

wingnuttery and how to combat it - France and America

I thought what is below was rather good sense, from a blog I have not read before - I have no idea who the person is who wrote it, but still...  

Wingnutism... just plain nuts
People who live in the US are probably aware of the finding of this Harris Poll.

The only statement I agree with is that President Obama, like the three before him, is far too dependent upon Wall Street investment bankers. That's bad for the country no matter who you voted for. But he is not a racist, Muslim, Kenyan, fan of bin Laden, or the Antichrist (good grief!).

Nor is he a socialist.

But what is a socialist? One who believes that a country's economy should be organized around socialism. Here is one list of socialist countries.

Notice that France is not on the list, though I routinely hear in the States that I live in a socialist country, e.g., “you wouldn’t want to end up like France, would you? They’re socialists.”

There are of course aspects of French life, like in America, that are clearly socialistic. For instance, we in France have to pay taxes for national insurance for health, disability, and retirement. The pension plan is pay-as-you-go — in other words, today’s taxes pay for today’s retirees. In the U.S., Social Security pays retirement and disability from the same pot, which is supposed to be self-funded by taxpayers’ and employers’ contributions. In both countries, you have to pay those taxes. Medicare is completely socialistic: people pay taxes to support those who benefit from it. The French health care system relies heavily upon mutual insurance companies (true non-profits) to supplement the national system. For relatively little more, and with lots of choices, you can have all health costs completely paid for.

The American health care system is nightmarishly complex and hugely expensive. While France spends about 10% of gross domestic product on health, which is very high compared to most other countries, America spends 17% of its GDP on health. This is because the system has been rigged to produce significant profits at every level. In other words, market forces won’t bring down healthcare costs because the market is not free. Furthermore, there is something seriously wrong, morally and financially, with publicly-traded companies providing health insurance. Who is the client, the patient or the stockholder? My problem with Obamacare is that these fundamental flaws was not addressed clearly and forcefully. Politics is the art of the possible, and that is not possible at this point.

The French government over the years has from time to time owned means of production. That is no longer true, though the state does own shares in French companies and provides subsidies especially for agriculture and start-ups. (The last Socialist government clearly pursued free-market tactics.) There is a fascinating institution founded in 1815 known as the Caisse de dépôts et consignations (“deposit and consignment bank”). It is a long-term invester in huge projects, among many other things.

The US government used the purchase of shares as a means of bailing out General Motors and Chrysler. That bet turned out to be right, as the companies are recovering and the shares will be sold at considerable profit. Most of the TARP bailout money has been repaid, and what hasn’t is earning interest. Such intervention is unusual, except in the banking industry. Does anyone remember the Resolution Trust Corporation? Through taxes, like France, the US subsidizes certain industries and agricultural production.

In other words, there are aspects of both countries that are socialistic — investments made for the common good and owned by the government. But both countries seek to implement market economies, for markets are the most efficient way to deliver goods and services and create capital. Obama and Sarkozy are not socialists.

Who is going to reverse the tide of Wingnutism? It is downright scary to think of these misconceptions and lies as forming part of any serious democratic debate. Such amounts mis- and disinformation have always fed revolutions in the past. Not the American Revolution. I mean revolutions overthrowing democratic governments.

There is only one remedy for the Big Lie. Show it isn’t true and then repeat until people catch on.
20 novembre 2010/ Edmund of East Anglia
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Hat-tip Bishop Pierre Whalon

1 comment:

dreamingspire said...

Seems like there ought to be at least a couple of links in that post, but I don't see them.