Friday, June 24, 2016

Shocking Brexit Result A Huge Blow For Anglo-American Capitalism


British voters' decision to leave the European Union will have an enormous impact on the global economy for years to come. I expect there will be a number of losers as a result. I think Britain eventually will rue the day it decided to leave the EU. And I think the U.S. will also suffer as a result of this momentous vote.

But in the long run, the biggest loser is the entire system of Anglo-American capitalism.

I always thought that the British got a much better deal than they ever fully realized from the EU. The fact is, a lot of the hysterical scare stories about the EU (often peddled in the Tory-leaning tabloid media) were often exaggerated, or downright false. What many ordinary Britons often failed to grasp was that Britain actually got a pretty deal from the EU over the years. It enjoyed all the advantages of being in the world's largest trading block---plus, it enjoyed special accommodations from the EU for its finance sector (a key and crucial component of the U.K. economy).

Now, those special accommodations have gone up in smoke. I'd suspect that, as a result, a lot of lucrative financial activity is going to migrate to cities like Paris and Frankfurt. London will inevitably be the loser.

A second big loser in the aftermath of Brexit is the U.S. It's not for nothing that President Obama pressured Britain to not leave the EU. Britain has long been a big advocate of the very sort of unbridled free market capitalism that the U.S. favors. Now, the U.S. no longer has Britain to advance its interests in the EU. This is a hugely significant story which I feel many commentators have not fully grasped.

Although it may not be immediately apparent, the biggest loser of Brexit is the whole system of Anglo-American capitalism. The fact is, many EU nations never really felt comfortable with the whole free-wheeling, winner-take-all, screw-the-poor, dog-eat-dog Anglo-American capitalist model. The French have derisively referred to "Anglo-Saxon capitalism" over the years. The French, along with the Germans and Italians (and most of the rest of the EU), prefer a "mixed economy" system that has elements of capitalism and socialism. It's true that some elements of this model exist in Britain, and even the U.S.---but it is in fact vastly more advanced in continental Europe.

Until Brexit, Britain was a steady and firm advocate of Anglo-American capitalism within the EU. Now that Britain is out, the EU will almost certainly move further away from the model of Anglo-American capitalism that has been hugely influential since it emerged with the Chicago school of economics in the 1970s.

I've never been a fan of the whole unregulated, dog-eat-dog model of capitalism that has dominated the economies of the U.S. and U.K. in recent decades. I've always thought the continental European model was preferable.

With Britain out, the EU will now be free to go its own way on economic policy. The world's largest economic trading block will no longer have a member state pushing for yet more deregulation and less taxes (and other hearty servings of Thatcher/Reagan medicine). It's hard to see this development as anything other than a huge setback for Anglo-American capitalism. And the mixed-economy European model (which has never really gotten much credit for its successes from the sort of free market "experts" that dominate the economics field) will now be free to develop on its own. It'll be interesting to see what results from this.

Maybe, just maybe, our corporate media and our elites will eventually be forced to acknowledge that the European mixed-economy model (while not perfect) is actually a much better system for coping with the challenges of the modern world than the unregulated Anglo-American model. In recent decades, the latter has resulted only in the enrichment of a tiny elite, while the middle class has shriveled and the ranks of the poor have soared. It's an unfair, crappy system that has failed and deserves to be tossed into the dustbin of history. Brexit is a huge dagger through its heart.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

If Obama is responsible for Orlando, is Bush responsible for 9/11?


Sen. John McCain got a lot of flak on Thursday for saying that President Obama is "directly responsible" for the shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub in which 49 people were killed.

I've got a couple of observations about this remark. First of all, McCain jumped the shark for me a long time ago. I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised at this latest nutty remark. Some time during the fiasco of the Bush years, McCain went from being a straight-shooter, sensible Republican to being prone to unhinged outbursts that one would normally encounter on talk radio.

But I wouldn't be too hard on McCain. Other Republicans have been saying virtually the same thing about Obama for years. In GOP World of Drudge/talk radio/Fox News, Obama is to blame for everything bad that ever happened. In their view, if someone slips on a grape peel, Obama is to blame. Over the years, many Republicans have rushed to blame Obama for everything from the Boston Marathon bombing to the San Bernardino attack.

For example, Ted Cruz repeatedly blamed Obama for failing to heed a warning about the San Bernardino attack that didn't even occur before the attack.

Oddly enough though, Obama never gets the slightest bit of credit from the GOP for anything good that happens ---and a lot of good has indeed happened on his watch.

Take the fact that there hasn't been a 9/11 on Obama's watch. (The likes of Orlando and San Bernardino, while horrific, were vastly smaller in scale that the apocalyptic disaster of 9/11, by a million miles the worst terror attack in America's history).

Incidentally, all mass shootings are acts of terror. Let's face it: in the U.S., mass shootings are routine events---and have been for decades.

The fact is, there hasn't been a 9/11 on Obama's watch. Obama in fact, has had a stellar record in keeping the American homeland secure. But he gets zero credit for it from the GOP. Just as he gets zero credit for the record stock market, the record corporate profit levels, and the record monthly streak of private-sector job growth. But listening to right-wing media, you'd be completely in the dark about any of these facts. I continue to hear Republicans (incredibly) claim that the disastrous Bush economy was better than Obama's economy.

While Obama gets zero credit for no 9/11 attacks and the stellar stock market, who do you think will immediately get ALL of the blame the second this stellar track record comes to an end? You can be assured that if there's another 9/11, Republicans will be howling that same day that it's all Obama's fault and that he should immediately resign. The same deal with the roaring stock market. If the market crashes tomorrow, it'll all be Obama's fault.

But some observers might make the claim that "This is just politics---it works both ways."

Does it, though?

Recall the aftermath of 9/11. I don't recall a single Democrat pointing the finger at Bush. In fact, the nation rallied around Bush. Bush's approval rating soared to 90 percent. I'm still unclear as to why this was. Even if you could argue that the Commander-in-Chief Bush was blameless for the disastrous breakdown in national security, I'm still in the dark as to why Bush's approval rating would soar into the stratosphere.

After 9/11, Bush's approval rating remained sky-high for years. It was only after the Iraq invasion started to descend into hellish chaos that Bush's approval rating began to sag.

So there you have it. If Obama is in charge, he gets blamed for everything. But if a Republican gets dandruff or has a leaky faucet, it's all Obama's fault.

Recall that with Bush in the White House, he pretty much got a free pass on just about everything.

War crimes? No problem.

Torture? No problem.

Illegal and unconstitutional warrantless wiretaps? No problem.

Lying the nation into an unnecessary, disastrous war? No problem.

Bush always got a free pass from Republicans (and frankly, from a lot of other people, as well as the mainstream media, much of the time).

All this came to an end, of course, when Obama was sworn in. And, of course, it continues today with Hillary Clinton. Say what you want to about the email scandal---but on a good day, Bush had bigger scandals than that before breakfast.

And take (please) the so-called Benghazi "scandal." Benghazi has now been investigated by 10 different congressional committees, chewing up over $7 million in taxpayer dollars. Incredibly, the endless and blatantly partisan investigations into Benghazi have now lasted longer than the government's investigation into 9/11.

As Dick Cheney put it in an interview with Sean Hannity about Benghazi, "I think it's one of the worst incidences, frankly, that I can recall in my career."

Yeah, Dick, whatever.

Never mind that, under Bush, there were 39 attacks or attempted attacks on U.S. embassies and embassy personnel. 87 people died during those attacks. And every attack was treated by the mainstream media as nothing more than a routine 24-hour news cycle story. Benghazi has gotten vastly more media coverage than all those attacks combined.

Of course, one of the key difference is that, when Benghazi happened, the gigantic million-watt Republican propaganda loudspeaker amplified the story. The whole right-wing talk radio/Drudge/Fox News GOP apparatus was able to breath constant new life into Benghazi. By constantly fanning the flames and shrieking about Benghazi, the GOP noise machine was able to repeatedly push the story into the mainstream media.

And, of course, as long as the Great GOP Noise Machine is around to distort news coverage, we can expect to see more of the same throughout a Hillary Clinton presidency. Which is one big reason why Hillary needs to restore the Fairness Doctrine. Until that happens, the likes of Rush will continue to pollute the public airwaves unchecked (public airwaves, which incidentally are owned by the American people).