Tuesday, October 9, 2012

There is just one issue at stake

Why not continue with politico-economic themes for this week? To be Anglican is simply to be Christian. To be Christian is to follow Christ in this world.  (There are no Christians in heaven ... think about it!). The future of this world is something Christians should care about, as stewards of God's gift of creation and as neighbours of, well, everyone, for no one is excluded from the scope of God's care and concern. So the current global crisis is, or should be of vital interest to each and every Christian.

If then we turn our attention to the looming American election, then our special interest in that as citizens of the world will be on the crisis that election represents for the global economy. The fate of America is not neutral for the rest of the world, and especially not for NZ, a nation whose fortunes rest directly on those of its trading partners. (Ditto, by the way, for China, for Europe, for Australia). In this perspective there is only one issue at stake in the American election, despite blather about immigration laws, gay marriage, Obamacare, foreign policy, etc. That issue is the size of the American deficit, now running into trillions. The more it grows, the more funds are required to pay interest on it, let alone repay the principal. The more funds sucked up in repayments, the less available to purchase goods and services. The future of, say, Obamacare, or foreign policy as something able to be enforced through military power, are at stake. Spiralling debt equals minimal Obamacare and shrinking military budgets. The desperation of people for jobs in the USA is best met by control of the debt.

So, what is on offer in the election? My distillation of a lot of reading is this. Obama offers very little by way of controlling the growth of the debt, and that little is a long way off. Romney offers a little more than Obama by way of controlling the growth of the debt, and that little bit of control kicks in earlier than Obama's approach. Neither offers anything like a robust programme for stemming the incoming tide of debt which threatens to overwhelm the USA and thus the rest of us.

No doubt when America voters go into the polling booths various reasons will drive the decisions they make. But they should focus on the one issue as vastly more important than other issues, and vote for the person they believe will do more to solve the problem. By a sliver Romney should be voted for.


Mark Harris said...

Peter... I would not dream of telling you and others in NZ who to vote for. Your analysis of who to vote for here in the US is not helpful. Yes the debt is a big issue - right up there with the biggies. But there are other issues as well. Massive military spending (even more massive than we have) is no answer, nor is the obscenity of gross wealth in the hands of very few. Debt can be turned, but it requires more than a rich person saying let everyone get rich if they can.

There is not one issue only.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mark,
I am trying to take a global perspective and to locate the very important place of the USA in it. The self-interest of a Kiwi/of my country is expressed in the post: we need the USA (and Europe and China) to be strong economies. There are many issues at stake in the election, but I am trying to argue that if the deficit is not sorted, then those issues will pale into insignificance.

Would that NZ was such a strong and mighty nation that people from afar felt like commenting on our issues at election time!!

Anonymous said...

Debt is the major issue, and most of that comes from unsustaianable welfare spending on social security. For that and other reasons, including Obama's war on Christian freedom, his support for gay marriage, and his radical pro-abortion and pro-family planning ideology, and his weak defense of Israel, then Romney, while not exactly an exciting candidate, is vastly preferable to Obama.

Kurt said...

That’s a lot of con-evo rubbish, Shawn. As usual, you right-wingers blame the poor. The biggest factor in the growth of the deficit here is the explosion of health care costs driven by greedy for-profit corporations. Enact a truly national health care plan, like every other civilized developed country has (including New Zealand), and this deficit will melt away. Tax the banksters and the rich!

Kurt Hill
(Who is voting for Jill Stein)
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Kurt and Mark, for your hints at the need for a balanced perspective on world economies, and the REAL cause of monetary mayhem.
We, a small island country in the South Pacific are, to a degree, preserved from major billionaire rorts in the financial sector, but we still have our pundits - some of them reactionary exiles from the U.S., who see the 'Marxist Peril' at the door.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kurt,

I did not blame poor, I blamed the State.

If you believe that a national health care plan will make the deficit melt away then I suggest that you do not understand the scale of the problem nor the causes of it.

NZ has a nationalized health care system and as well as a very generous welfare state, and both are slowly but surely bankrupting the country becuase of the massive costs. In a couple of generations there will not be enough young workers entering the market to support the growing numbers of retired people.

In the US such a system would add trillions to the already apocalyptic debt levels. Nor would taxing the rich cone close to paying for it let alone pay off the debt itself. Health care costs in the US are driven not by greedy corporations but by state and federal regulations. A true competitive free market will solve that.

The fundamental cause of the defect is a combination of the growth of the leviathan state and it's spending, and the destruction of the real value of the currency through the Federal Reserves ability to print fiat money. In both cases it is the State not the market or private businesses which is to blame. Whatever greed in the private sector contributed to the problem it was greed made possible through government regulation of the market and government control of the money supply.

Now to be fair I don't think Romney is going to address the core problem. Ron Paul was about the only candidate who understood the economics. But at least Romney will put the brakes on Obama's insane spending levels.

The fundamental cause of that debt is governm

The basic

Kurt said...

No, Shawn, you, and your Austro-austerity friends like Paul Ryan (who clearly lost the debate last night), are wrong. Like most right-wingers, when the facts are inconvenient, you ignore or deny them.

The current argument about the American budget and our country’s economic policy focuses on deficits and debts which are, in the long-term, entirely dependent upon projections of health care costs for aging populations. The fact of the matter is if we Americans had per-person health care costs comparable to those individuals in National Health plans, we would be looking at long-term budge surpluses, not deficits. That’s the truth.

To follow the Republican Party austerity plan outlined by Romney-Ryan will push our sputtering American economy over the cliff into European-style economic decline. The Democratic plan is Repub-lite. Thanks, but no thanks.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

The defecit is real right now, not a projection.

All those European countries in decline and close to economic collapse all have nationalized health care and generous welfare, yet they are bursting their budgets and facing or experiencing financial collapse.

In every European country in crises it was government spending and printing fiat currency that caused the collapse.

So how would adopting European style policies, such as nationalized health care, help the US when those same policies have failed in Europe?

Take a good hard look at Greece as an example of what the policies of the US Left would achieve. They had the same view that money grows on a magic tree and countries can spend what they like with no consequences. They had nationalized health care as well. Now they are facing the abyss, quite literally.

The left wing demagogues youvfollow are lying to you. European style socialism does not work and is facing serious collapse.

Money does not grow on trees.

You cannot spend what you have not earned.

Peter Carrell said...

A slightly redacted comment from Ron:

Shawn, you seem to have a grasp on financial/political matters. With your nous and knowledge of the distant American political scene, you could be a great help to Mr Romney back at Home. But whether you'd help win the current American election I have my doubts.

For what it's worth, I think Obama and his understanding of the needs of the poor (a Gospel ethic), he will probably win hands down. my prayers are for him, anyway.

Kurt said...

I don’t know where to begin, Shawn. I haven’t read such a load of Austro-malarkey in years!

The Europeans in the EU, with their National Health plans, actually have lower debt levels and lower deficits than the USA. The EU crisis—fanned by unemployment caused by austerity measures—is largely the result of continuing “current-account imbalances” and an unwillingness of stronger European economies to subsidize the weaker ones in the EU—just as we Americans here in the Northland subsidize Southerners in states like Alabama and Mississippi.

Europeans do not spend more on government-provided National Health than Americans do with “our” for-profit driven system. Europeans actually spend less.

In 2009, for example, the American government spent $3,800 per citizen on health care. The German government spent $3,242. The French government spent $3,100. The UK government spent $2,935. The United States has the largest economy in the world and should be able to afford more. Remember, in the US, unlike in Europe, government spending amounts to less than half of total spending on health care the rest goes directly to greedy, for-profit companies. When one adds in private spending, the United States spent 17.2% of GDP on health care in 2009, while developed European countries were in the 11-12% range. And unlike most European countries, we don't have universal coverage of all American citizens.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Surely the issue at stake for most if not all Western countries (including NZ) is the growing deficit around beneficiaries of government spending (not only health, but old age pensions) as an aging 'boomer' population retires with proportionately less people working to support their benefits than when they themselves worked and supported their parents' generation (who lived shorter lives).

liturgy said...

Peter, please correct me; I think your comment is more particularly a NZ problem &, hence, viewing things more through NZ filter.

We are (pretty much/stupidly) the only Western democracy where your comment fully applies - everything in the superannuation for those who are retired here is sourced from the tax of current workers. Other (more sensible) Western democracies have long foreseen the problem (not naming any current head-in-the-sand NZ politician who still doesn't get it) and have long been automatically putting aside a percentage of workers' income for their future retirement.



Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

If Obama cared about the poor he would not be pursuing policies that have failed the poor and the unemployed so badly.


You have made my point for me. All Western democracies are trapped in unsustainable spending commitments. It does not matter what they are spending on, only that they are pending more than they earn.

But in all cases it is the welfare state that is the primary cause. The current financial crisis was caused by government spending and degradation of the value of the currency.

More government spending is not the answer.

Nor is stealing money of workers to provide for retirement.

The answer for all Western nations is to radically reduce spending, end the bloated and failed welfare state, and restore economic freedom, honest coinage and the gold standard, and property rights.

The Leviathin liberal/welfare state has achieved nothing except the theft and destruction of private wealth and property, the destruction of the value of currencies through central bank monopolies on the money supply, and the enslavement and oppression of the poor through anti-family welfare policies that have created generations of welfare dependent broken families and fatherless children. All of which involved State enforced policies contrary to Scripture.

The State is not our parent our Saviour.

Kurt said...

No, Shawn, I think this exchange has made my case for me: the right-wing wants to eviscerate welfare for the non-rich—cut back substantially on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Unemployment, Food Stamps, etc. The programs that benefit middle class and working people and the poor. It is an un-Christian approach based, theologically speaking, on a warped Calvinism, which pictures the rich, and their well-off minions, as God’s “Elect.”

“War on Christian freedom”? What about all the wars this “Christian” nation is engaging around the world against people of other faiths? And what about substantially cutting one of the biggest “welfare” programs in the country—the US “defense” budget? Bigger than the war budgets of the next largest eight-to-ten countries combined. Not one word from you about that massive state program benefiting the wealthy owners, managers, and propagandists of the military-industrial-financial complex. Your silence makes my case.

The Bush tax cuts were a disaster. What is causing the deficit, Shawn, is the refusal of the bought-and-paid-for politicians of both major parties to tax the rich their fair share.

If the Obama regime has reluctantly spent more on social programs such as Unemployment Insurance and Food Stamps it’s because they became more necessary when the banksters and other greedy gougers wrecked our economy and millions lost their jobs. I said, “reluctantly spent” because Obama and most of his party have betrayed the base that elected them; they would be more than happy to agree to a “Grand Bargain” to slash social program spending. And if re-elected, they will try again. Thus far only the far right-wing fanatics of the “other” party are refusing to cooperate because the cuts are not extreme enough. They want European-style Austro-austerity.

While the State is not our parent or Savior, Shawn, neither are the corporations and the rich.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY