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Tony Grist

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Out Of Ideas [Apr. 10th, 2009|09:52 am]
Tony Grist
Our politicians are clean out of ideas. The overarching ideology of the past half-century- freemarket capitalism- is collapsing around us,  its historic opponent- state socialism- collapsed decades ago and there don't seem to be any alternatives. The politicians, bereft of ideology- are reduced to managing the mess. That's why I don't hate them the way I hated their immediate predecessors. You can hate a man with ideas. His ideas make him loom bigger than himself. Tony Blair, as frontman for neo-conservatism- the last and feeblest ideology of the 20th century- had a sort of nasty, glittery grandeur.  His successor, Gordon Brown, is  just a hapless human being, floundering about in the shambles he helped create. There's nothing there to hate- no big idea to oppose or disprove. You can point at the incompetence, the corruption, the dishonesty, but you know in your heart that that's just the human condition- and you can expect exactly the same sort of muddle from the next person to take the job.

Big ideas lead to big crimes. Countless millions of people died in the last century because politicians got big ideas in their heads. Distasteful as they may be, I think we're better off with our current crop of scuttling, empty-headed managers.
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Comments:
From: acathartes
2009-04-10 01:10 pm (UTC)
I am secretly hoping that Obama is smart enough to *see*, eventually, that the system is not working, and that more of the same will not fix anything. But while I really do believe he has the highest and best intentions, I'm also willing to accept that he may just be too invested in that system to let it go, just because he's a politician.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-10 03:43 pm (UTC)
I don't know enough about economics to have an opinion on Obama's plans to beat the recession. I like the measured approach of his international diplomacy- the world ouside the USA thinks he's wonderful- but think he ought to be pulling out of Afghanistan not digging further in.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-04-10 02:40 pm (UTC)
Perhaps... I'm sure glad that Bush is gone here.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-10 03:45 pm (UTC)
Bush was terrible. Obama may not do any better, but he at least gives the impression of being up to the job.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-04-10 06:08 pm (UTC)
I am pretty sure that Obama is who he appears to be. He is already really putting out way more effort that Bush ever did. People were so stupid to vote for Bush! I still don't understand why anyone did. (Of course the first time he really didn't win the election.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-11 09:47 am (UTC)
I was reading an article in the Times this morning which makes the point that where Bush harangued and preached, Obama listens.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-04-11 02:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, Obama seems to be a great listener.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-04-10 02:41 pm (UTC)
There are two alternatives to those extremes. A European style social democratic capitalism, with entrepreneurial businesses creating the things people need, providing satisfying jobs, and raising taxes to pay for compassionate social services. Or a regime in which we work towards Gross Domestic Happiness rather than Gross Domestic Product, where we might have to own less Stuff, but get more out of work, family, community, nature, government, greenness and peace.

Perhaps those two things are not incompatible.

I would gladly give up 20% of my salary, work 4 days per week, and help train someone else to do some of the things I do. My company won't allow it. Part time working, at least in office jobs, is pretty much unheard of in America. And Americans rarely take 2 weeks holiday together, they tend to exist on long weekends. We've been following their winner-takes-all mode of capitalism for too long.

IMHO that's why so many of them are in therapy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-10 03:52 pm (UTC)
I like the phrase Gross Domestic Happiness. I'd vote for any party that pursued that goal.

I'm hoping a more sensible society will emerge out of the recession, but I'm not counting on it.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-04-10 04:00 pm (UTC)
I have a feeling they try to measure GDH in Bhutan.

The trouble is that countries feel the need to grow their economy and everyone has to have More Stuff. If we could think globally, and trade say with Africa, then the global GDP would go up because Africans had a little bit more stuff... well, then we would be getting somewhere...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-11 09:52 am (UTC)
The problem is acquisitivness and status seeking. We all know, deep down, that we really need very little to be happy, but for some reason we're incapable of living according to our wisdom.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2009-04-10 08:23 pm (UTC)
I like your thinking here. I also believe that the system itself is going to have to change. Free market capitalism isn't sustainable. And there is more to quality of life than economic growth.

Capitalism promotes the notion of unlimited profits. Companies constantly have to come up with new products (white chocolate peanut butter cups, spicy hot Cheetos) so that they can continue to increase profits. But people don't need those products, and they may in fact be doing more harm than good--to our health, to the environment, to the people we pay slave wages to produce them at low prices, etc.

Remember when the personal computer came into being, and everyone said it would increase productivity so much that we'd only need to work 20 hours a week? But what happened instead? We're simply expected to work 40 hours and produce twice as much.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-04-10 09:31 pm (UTC)
The trouble is, it is no longer enough to have a stable share price and give shareholders regular dividends. What people want is constant growth of companies, as inicated by a rising share price, so shareholders can have it both ways. In order to keep doing that, you have to keep doing more and better than last year, and you get to a point where it isn't sustainable.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-04-14 10:33 am (UTC)
Au contraire Blackadder. The big idea to watch out for is one-world government. Look out for it in speeches (Brown mentioning New World Order after the G20), see it in the beginnings of a new world currency (IMF stuff). Read up about the Fabian Society, created to usher in world government by stealth. Look up the Bilderberg Group, Council on Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission. I believe a welfare state always will lead to a totalitarian state. How about all these new laws - no photographing the police, internet, email and phone records to be stored and analysed, 60,000 government informers to be trained up, posters enouraging people to watch out for and report on "terrorist" activities. The UK, and the world at large is turning into a socialist nightmare. The G20 was a showbiz spectacular where all the participants pretended to disagree, then came together and suddenly all agreed in 3 hours and they've somehow saved the planet. Yeah right.
Pretty soon everything we do will be prescribed, and everything else will be forbidden.
As for Gordon Brown being hapless, I don't think so. He's an intelligent and powerful man, he wouldn't have manouvered the country into this position unless he wanted it to be there. Nothing is done by mistake. He's probably debasing Sterling to a point where we "have" to get into a world currency, and Obama will do the same with the Dollar.
Tom F
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-04-14 11:18 am (UTC)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDCUXzY9Uzo
quick intro to the Fabian Society
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