Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Congress’

The American angst of the summer of 2011.

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

What is going on south of that Canada-United States of America border?  Democrats are turning on Obama.  Republicans are disavowing their motley leadership. The rock that used to be Standard and Poors has turned thumbs down on the American economy.

With the plunging stock market, those of us on fixed incomes have just seen our retirement savings go south again.  The stock market does not crash these days, it just bounces like a perpetual motion India rubber ball—not higher and higher, just lower and lower.  We are all getting mad as hell and we are not going to take this any more.  (You might have heard that before but so what?)

Americans are telling their politicians how mad they are and you can hardly blame them.  It is bad enough that the greed of Wall Street drove us all into recession three years ago.  For the American politicians to create a stupid, destructive, ignorant artificial crisis such as an arbitrary, unfounded debt limit was a vicious and flagrant disregard for the people they were supposed to serve.  They should all be spanked and sent home and the voters should replace them with adults.

One of the obstacles we repeatedly run into calling for a Canadian Constitutional Conference is the people who are deathly afraid that you want a system of government similar to the Americans.  Good grief no!  Canadians have indirectly suffered the worst effects of the American Constitution for over two hundred years and hardly deserve such a flawed system of government themselves.

But as has been said many times, democracy itself is hardly perfect.  It is just much better than the alternatives.  The basic problem of the American Constitution is that it is based on a union of states and not a union of people.  Even the subsequent civil war that the country suffered only produced necessary band-aids to the problems rather than solutions.

This writer would not have the temerity to suggest what the Americans should do to clean up their act.  What they might do is reflect long and hard on the original objectives of their constitutional congress.  They were supposed to assure Americans of the individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Concentrating on making that happen would be a damn good start.

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All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The possible and the spurious.

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Watching the television news about the American debt battle in Congress, the wife turned and asked “What comes after a trillion dollars?”

The answer was immediate and regretted: “Confusion.”

We should have said “quadrillion” and let it go at that.  Instead we got into a silly discussion of the differences in how Americans count.  The problem is that the way Americans count, a billion is only a thousand million.  In other systems, a billion is considered to be a million million which is a thousand times as much.

The rest of the world has had to go along with this Americanism but one is still best to check the number of zeros after a number to confirm.

But while that discussion can be considered spurious, hopefully politicians in the United States are now dealing with the possible.  They have an annual budget running over three of their trillions of dollars per year which is a lot in anyone’s language.  Their right-wing, small government advocates are asking them to start paring this down by an average of about US$20 billion per year which they might be able to do if they are not fighting too many foreign wars and the U.S. banking system cleans up its act.

But trying to balance the U.S. budget and finally gaining some cooperation will not make the foolish right-wing nuts like the Tea Party go away.  We have the same problem in Canada with Toronto’s Ford Brothers and Johnny-one-notes such as Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.  And in the meantime, we are on pins and needles waiting for the federal Harper Conservatives to decide where to strike.

Other than that, it really is a pretty summer.  We are enjoying it.  Hope you are too!

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All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The obduracy of the right.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The first inclination was to refer to the pig-headedness of the right wing in our North American society.  Since ‘obduracy’ means the same, we can sound a bit more refined.  What it does not preclude is the opportunity to rail against the ham-fisted idiocy of those people on the right-wing of politics whose destructive obduracy causes so much trouble in our society.

We can see the obduracy at all levels of government.  We can see it in Canada and in the U.S.A.  It starts at the municipal level.

The Ford brothers in Toronto are an excellent example of the ignorance on which obduracy can be based.  The Toronto Mayor and his lieutenant brother think they can casually close libraries and daycare facilities while laying off police to meet their imagined tax savings.  They offered a frustrated electorate a chance to end the gravy train and now they learn that they are the gravy train.

It is a lesson that Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak has yet to learn.  It is an ignorant elector that will go along with the bad economics of Hudak’s foolish promises.  The problem is there are lots of ignorant people who vote.  People believe what they want to believe and logic does not trump emotion.  Hudak can only be defeated by a stronger emotional appeal.

And what can you really say about Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  The anger, chagrin and frustration with him will build to a crescendo over the next four years.  We have barely scratched the surface of his government’s right-wing paranoia.

The American right-wing adherents are also hardly wallflowers.  The Tea Party supporters in Congress have tied that government in knots fighting for their economic plans.  The fact that most of their plans cannot work does not seem to bother them.

But the truth in all of this right and left fighting is that nobody has all the answers.  The voters have the power to end the nonsense by forcing politicians to sit down with each other to discuss the issues.  Cooperation makes for poor media headlines but it certainly makes for better government.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me