Posts Tagged ‘United States’
When the Normans conquered a region of present day Italy in the eleventh century they engaged in extortion. They would start to burn the crops of the natives and then demand payment for putting the fire out.
This form of extortion parallels what the citizens of the U.S. face today from the GOP, with one noteworthy exception. You see, they helped create the economic mess that we have been in, that is, they set the fire. They did so through deregulating Wall Street and the banks, along with lax enforcement of existing regulations, which led the economy to tank at the end of the Bush years. (Yes, the Democrats did go along with some of these measures but the initiative to deregulate Wall Street and the banks has been based on Republican dogma.) But unlike the Normans, they can’t put the fire out. For the tools they would use to extinguish the fire are the same ones that helped start it in the first place.
Now you say this is unfair. The Normans intended to extort by setting the fires. The Republicans believed that what they were doing was good for the economy. They did not plan to extort. Fair enough. But we have now reached a point in which it doesn’t really matter what the Republicans’ intentions were or are. The fact is that they set the fire and they want to use the same flame thrower to put it out.
What does this actually amount to for us non-wealthy folk? We will have less protections against various kinds of fires, for example, illness, unemployment, lack of resources for retirement, etc. And we will be asked to pay more for any protections that are left. We will be told that this isn’t so by the GOP. They will tell us that by lowering taxes and deregulating we will unleash the as yet unleashed forces of the market. Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. There are no free lunches. As the vast majority of experts on the economy will tell you, we can’t get out of our current fiscal situation without prudent entitlement policies and new taxes. This was the recommendation of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a recommendation which free market fanatics like Ryan helped tank because it suggested new taxes (although Ryan dishonestly has tried to blame Obama).
If the GOP wins this election and manages to push through more deregulation and tax cuts, especially for corporations and the rich, we and our children will end up having to pay more to cover the enormous debt and suffering that will be created by these policies. We will have to pay for the fire that they have started, once again.
One of the recurring themes of pieces on Obama at UP@NIGHT is the nature of his pragmatism, which is as much philosophical as it is purely political. With three months or so to go before the election, I thought I would collect here several links to discussions of Obama’s political thought and politics from the past few years at UP@NIGHT.
The entries most relevant to philosophical pragmatism are listed first. There are a couple of critical pieces further down the list. But I think it important that we understand with whom we are dealing as we criticize Obama or his administration. We should not fault him for seeking the possible when the more desirable was out of reach.
And for those who may still not have had enough, there is a discussion of Obama’s pragmatism and cosmopolitanism in an online (read, free) “Afterword” to my new book, Transcendence: On Self-Determination and Cosmopolitanism (Stanford University Press).
April 26, 2009. The United States declared a public health emergency today. Although it appears that no one has died or become seriously ill in the U.S. from a new strain of the swine flu, health officials are taking no chances. All of the traditional measures to combat epidemics have been set in motion. Funds will be made available for anti-viral drugs, and time-tested and effective methods for tracking and preventing the spread of disease will be utilized. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is reassuring the public, citing its decades of experience in handling epidemics and its recent preparation for pandemics.
However, former Vice President Cheney, through a spokesman, is calling on the CDC to avoid thinking within the box in deciding on measures to halt this attack on our nation. “We can’t afford not to act with every means available to us,” said his spokesman. Inside the CDC there is mounting pressure to consult with agents from the CIA to examine how harsh interrogation techniques might be of service. With fear mounting and pressure growing, expert legal advice is being sought in order to provide the proper “legal cover” for actions that international agreements have outlawed as torture.
“Look,” said a representative from the former VP’s office, “you gotta do what you gotta do. There are swine out there who, or I should say, that are dangerous. We need to know what, where, and when.” The plan seems to be to find the pigs that are harboring the terrorist virus, and apply harsh techniques, torture if you will, in order force them to provide operational intelligence.
There has been some concern that the swine won’t talk. But everyone should know that swine are among the most intelligent animals, according to experts in covert intelligence. A spokesperson for the CDC insists that with proper guidance, waterboarding a pig is possible, and it will get the animal to talk, and talk fast. (He then handed this reporter a copy of Animal Farm.)
Questioned about violating the rights of these animals, a Cheney spokesman said, “What’s the difference? Whether it’s a human animal or an animal animal. If it attacks you, or if you believe that it might possibly attack, you go after it.” There was little response to a question directed to Cheney himself (as he was walking his dog) by one reporter, “What about all of the innocent pigs, for example, the three little ones, that were just minding their business, trying to build lives for themselves?” Cheney did say that if we could apply harsh techniques to the virus itself, we would. But since we don’t have the technical means to do so, as many of the swine as possible gotta be boarded.
Asked to comment, The White House declined, claiming that as an inanimate object it had little to say. Although a spokesman for the President did say that if the tactics were forward-looking enough, and did not constitute a threat to his domestic agenda, he might be able to get his team behind the CDC. In any case, no CDC employee will be prosecuted for actions deemed acceptable by agency lawyers.
A spokesperson for the Humane Society claimed to be too upset to return this reporter’s call.