Monday, October 6, 2008
The Debate Over Nothing
We are in the midst of an election that is heated and acrimonious but the debate doesn’t touch a single issue of substance. Both candidates choose to follow the status quo with subtle differences in emphasis and style. McCain shows himself to be confrontational and reactive; Obama shows himself to prefer deliberation and to be more thoughtful. One appears to be more ready to use the war machine in the first stages of diplomacy, the other would reserve the war option until a diplomatic performance has been offered to the public.
One offers a modification of our present health care system to include more payments by the Federal government to cover some people who at present have no insurance. The other offers a $5000 voucher so that people can purchase their own insurance. Neither would reform the system.
Both offer gratuitous tax breaks and other small and meaningless changes in tax policy.
Both have proposals to tweak the rules applied by the Dept. of education.
Both would increase the defense budget, but would concentrate some resources differently.
Both would continue our presence in Iraq indefinitely, but with different guidelines and a slightly different long term goal. Both will continue and expand the war in Afghanistan. Obama thinks we should include war in Pakistan, if not war against Pakistan.
Both candidates support “free trade” and mumble similar platitudes about tax breaks and retraining to bring vanishing jobs back to America.
Both favor continued support, both financial and military of Israel. Both favor continued embargos and threats of violence against Iran. Both favor the entry of the Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. Both favor a confrontational attitude with Russia and both demand that Ossettia and Abkazia be returned to Georgia.
And in the most important issue of the decade, both candidates voted for the “bailout”. Both blame irresponsible borrowers and lenders and a lack of government oversight as the cause of the crisis. Both favor more government regulation of markets. Both said that intervention was necessary to keep credit available to Main Street America.
Neither candidate even mentioned foreign owners of bad American debt, although Henry Paulson made it clear that without the authority to buy bad foreign held debt, that the bill would be vetoed.
They just talk and talk. Bla bla bla without ever addressing the real and existencial problems that America faces.
Department for department, McCain and Obama have slight differences in what and how they propose to do if elected. That would sound reasonable in a country that was economically strong. That would be expected if everything was going well and we had a healthy trade balance, good relations with the rest of the world, a budget surplus and a strong dollar. If everything important were in pretty good shape, it would be reasonable to expect that neither candidate would advocate much change.
But everything is not in great shape. In fact the country is rapidly heading for disaster. We are overextended everywhere. We have built-in budget and trade deficits. We went from a 5 trillion dollar national debt in 2000 to a 11.5 trillion dollar debt today. That is an increase of over 120% and if we do not make systemic changes the debt will grow exponentially.
So the TV news and the NYTimes and the Wall street Journal work themselves into a lather to try to interest their viewers and readers with the campaign and it works. Americans are talking about the Vice-Presidential debates as the country is going into a full-on meltdown. Neither McCain nor Obama will talk about any real issues, which means that they will both follow the status quo that has brought us to this precipice.
So what are the real issues?
1. The USA is bankrupt and we need to increase national production. Selling derivatives and hamburgers and Chinese suitcases to each other will not get us out of the hole. We have to increase American production that went overseas.
2. The US foreign policy of Empire is unsustainable and threatens our security and our liberty. We have to close our overseas bases and bring our troops back to the USA and our territories. The rest of the world will just have to figure out its own problems.
3. The USA is bankrupt and we are going to have to cut spending. We have to cut spending, not by 1% by going after earmarks, but by 40% through major surgery.
4. Washington is run by the Corporations. They write the legislation and finance the campaigns. The government needs to be squeezed until there just isn’t enough cash to interest the Corporations.
5. The Federal Reserve Bank has caused many or most of our economic ills by bloating the economy with free money that was created out of nothing. The dollar is now a dead man walking.
6. Health-care. It doesn’t work. We spend 16% of our GDP and only about half of Americans have decent Health care.
7. The legal system is broken. We have 4 million men and women in prison, many of them for non-violent drug offenses. We have created a prison culture. Lawsuits in this country are ridiculous. Awards have no relationship with reality.
8. Entitlement Programs are unfunded. Medicare parts A and B, Medicaid and Social Security are unfunded and the costs are rising fast as the demographics change.
So why don’t we scream and demand that both of the corporate tools from the Corporate Party address real issues? Why don’t we see who does address these real issues?
I am trying not to give my opinion as to how we should deal with these issues, but I find it incredible that as we are about to crash and burn that we are talking about mavericks and hope and lipstick and leadership and endless vacuous bullshit. I will listen to anyone who tackles these real issues and it may sound crazy to the Americans who are fed a constant diet of Mainstream media, but I find myself in agreement with Bob Barr and Ralph Nader much more frequently and on more of these real issues than I do with McCain and Obama. That is because these “fringe” candidates recognize the real and existential problems that we face, while McCain and Obama refuse to discuss real issues.
Don’t trust them. How can you when you don’t know their opinions about the topics that matter?
Vote third party.