Freedom and Liberty
Despite breathless coverage of Venezuela’s vanishing supply of condoms, toilet paper, and beer, perhaps the country’s most debilitating shortage has been that of food, which appears to be a motivating factor for growing antigovernment sentiment.
“I want the recall because I don’t have food,” one woman told the Venezuelan commentary site Contrapunto, referring to a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro that has so far reportedly drawn more than a million signatures in support.
“We want out of this agony — there is too much need in the streets,” another woman told Contrapunto. “We have much pressure because there is no food and every day we have to ask ourselves what we are going to eat.”
Many families have been reduced to one meal a day. In a verdant and rich country, this is what socialism has brought them too.
And the idiocracy in charge? Well, they’re reduced to abjectly stupid moves like this in an attempt to forestall the inevitable:
To try to shore up wages, Maduro on Sunday announced a 30% minimum-wage increase, which comes after a 25% hike on March 1 and is the 33rd wage boost since 1999. Beginning this month, workers and pensioners will earn 15,051 bolivars a month — only about $13, based on the black-market conversion rate, according to El País.
That amount may become even more paltry. Venezuela’s inflation rate in 2015 was 180.9%, according to the central bank, and the International Monetary Fund expects inflation in the country to reach 720% this year.
The acquisition of food has become the primary function of Venezuelans:
“I have to leave the house at 5 a.m., facing the risk of being killed, to stand in line all day and only buy two or three products,” Jhonny Mendez said.
Do yourself a favor and look through the pictures of the amount of food several families have in their house in a day that accompany the above article..
What has happened in Venezuela is criminal … there’s no other word for it. Chavez was a criminal and his henchman now in charge is also a criminal. What they’ve done to that country is unforgivable. And it was all predictable … in fact, it was predicted. I also have a feeling it isn’t going to end well:
Meanwhile, the return El Niño, a cyclical weather phenomenon, leads to widespread power outages across the country as the authorities’ incompetence and corruption are laid bare. 76 percent of Venezuelans have fallen into poverty and 13 percent eat only twice a day. Maduro’s government is rejected by 85 percent of the population.
Looting last week was contained but the Governor of Lara, Henri Falcón, a former Chavista, noted that “this is a thousand times worse than the reasons that led to the ‘Caracazo.’” He added that, at any moment, the political, social and economic crisis may lead to a conflict of incalculable consequences.
It seems, this week, that I’m all about proving Shark’s point that “every time I think we’ve reached peak stupid, something new comes along to prove me wrong.” Well here you go, Shark, the shot:
Bringing my adopted cat, Jameson, home with me in 2014 was one of the happiest days of my life.
Having to go back to work two days later was one of the worst.
While the rest of the country is hung up on the necessity of maternity leave — or even the newly coined “meternity” — one group continues to be overlooked when it comes to paid time off from work: new pet owners.
Yesterday, the Shark said: “Every time I think we’ve reached peak stupid, something new comes along to prove me wrong.” Well, to prove Shark’s point, I found this:
The Second Amendment is highly contested. There is no doubt that people do have the right to carry and have a stockpile of guns (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms”) and a state has the right to organize a well-regulated Militia. But, the main issue is on the right to self-defend with a firearm.
The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights.
To say this is probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read would be an understatement. It is certainly an indicator of how far the left will go in it’s “reasoning” to deny you the use of a gun and your basic right to self-defense. I said “basic” but self-defense is indeed an inherent right. You need no one’s permission to exercise it because you own your life and without protecting it, you would obviously cease to exist.
That apparently is lost on this statist rube. Let’s lay this out a little differently. This Huffington Post writer is attempting to persuade you that a civil right (an actual societal construct applicable only to a particular society) is somehow superior to an inherent right (a right that is yours without anyone or anything granting it. It is your existence and its requirements for survival that “grant” it. The right is applicable to all mankind without exception. It can be violated, but it can’t be taken away.). We have an idiot here who claims that if you defend yourself your action “imposes on justice”?
Wtf? Your action, especially if you successfully defend yourself, IS justice! And how you do it or with what is irrelevant! Gun? Knife? Crowbar? Throat punch? Each and every one of those may “impose on justice”, as he defines it and is your right. But this dolt tries to sell that as a primary reason to restrict the ownership of guns. Only cops should have guns and you should defer your “self-defense” to them!
This is a person that has no concept of inherent rights, what they mean and why they’re necessary. So he writes slop like this! And it gets worse as his “reasoning” stays in the ditch and hits a concrete culvert several times. No airbags deployed because his ideas weren’t worth spit to begin with and certainly not worth saving.
So Shark … suck it up bud. We’re not even close to “peak” stupidity. The stupid machine keeps on churning and the manure keeps on plopping out.
It isn’t like you have to go back ages in history to see governing models that don’t work. The recent end of the Cold War provided perfect examples. But they collapsed in the ’80s and our younger generation has no memory of the hardships the people of those countries suffered under socialist totalitarian rule. They also give indications that they think government is the solution for all our problems instead of understanding that for the most part government is responsible for many of our problems. It seems they think that if we just had big government, everything would be lovely.
The “Feel the Bern” crowd are enamored with “social democracy”. They like to point to Europe and pretend that the system is a desirable one. But instead of pointing to Europe, perhaps they should cast their eyes to the south – to Venezuela. They might find it, oh, I don’t know, enlightening:
In 1999, Venezuela was taken over by Socialist who promised that he would punish big corporations and redistribute wealth to “the people” to provide health care, education, infrastructure, and even out income inequality. (Sound familiar?) The American Left cheered. Celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover praised his Democratic Socialist economic measures. Chavez systematically nationalized the oil, banking, agricultural, food distribution, telecommunications, and power industries in Venezuela; because running them as social democratic communes would eliminate “greed” and give the people lower cost goods and services. The American Left praised him for “democratizing” the Venezuelan economy. When Chavez shut down opposition TV, radio, and newspapers the American Left defended it as necessary to protect the Revolution.
The American Left likes to pretend now that Venezuela isn’t a real example of Social Democracy; but up until the economy collapsed (as every sensible person knew it would) they were Chavez’s biggest cheerleaders, as the links above (or any Google search) shows.
It is, of course, a horrific example of a socialist takeover, but a typical one. A once well-off country with the most proven oil reserves in the world reduced to literal poverty. Food shortages, other commodity shortages, you name it, you can’t get it there. Oh, and about those oil reserves? Well it seems that Venezuela has an energy crisis. And the government’s solution? Well it said everyone should take Fridays off (yeah, screw productivity – that’s a capitalist construct) and this bit of brilliance:
Last week, his government said it was shifting its time zone forward by 30 minutes to save power by adding half an hour of daylight.
Socialism … in Venezuela’s case they’re actually feeling the burn.
Then there is Brazil. Brazil is the lover of “big governments” wet dream. Or as it has now become, a nightmare. Brazil is a failing state and the primary reason that it is failing is because of the premise under which it has operated for decades. Big government paternalism:
For all its modernist appeal, it was one more expression of the country’s long and troubled attachment to the concept of a giant paternalistic state, responsible for managing the affairs of the entire society, from its biggest companies to its poorest citizens.
“The problem is, from time immemorial, Brazil’s political leaders only see one way forward, the growth of the state,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former leftist intellectual who sought to reduce the size of Brazil’s government while president from 1995 to 2002. “But you need another springboard for progress, that doesn’t exclude the state but that accepts markets. This just doesn’t sink in in Brazil.”
Many wan’t to blame Brazil’s problems on corruption like the corruption scandal now rocking the nation. But the corruption arises from the base problem … big, unanswerable government:
While many observers of Brazil’s predicament have focused on the country’s corruption, that may miss the point. Brazil’s deeper problem lies in the failures of its Leviathan state, which has perennially reached for the utopian visions embodied in Brasília but instead has produced recurring cycles of boom and dramatic bust.
Of course there a huge lessons to be learned from these two countries that apply to this country and the current political arguments now being made. All, to some degree or another (with Socialist Sanders being the extreme) argue for both social democracy and bigger government. We apparently don’t learn from other countries but insist on learning the hard way, by repeating what has already failed any number of times.
That’s because of arrogance and the belief that the only reason any of this hasn’t worked in the past is the right people weren’t in charge.
With the class of politicians we have running today, Hugo Chavez would be a better choice to run their ideas.
And we all know how well he did.
Hillary Clinton admits not only to a tax increase but a 1 Trillion dollar tax increase. To spend on the debt? Well, no. New spending! Freeloader spending!
If you know how government works, they’ll admit to $1 trillion in new taxes and claim its what they’ll spend, but my guess is the real spending will end up being 4 to 5 times that much. And that in the land of $18 Trillion debt. Check out this interview. Whatever happened to “no new taxes”?
Daily News: So on taxes, that I did call for among other things, a surcharge on incomes over $5 million, 30% minimum, the Buffett rule, over a million…
Clinton: Over a million. Yeah, right.
Daily News: …and then to carried interests, a change in capital gains that would reward people for holding for six years or more, I believe it is. How much revenue do you foresee coming off that and what will be the impact on growth?
Clinton: Well, I have connected up my proposals for the kind of investments I want to make with the taxes that I think have to be raised. So on individual pieces of my agenda, I try to demonstrate clearly that I have a way for paying for paid family leave, for example, for debt-free tuition. So I would spend about $100 billion a year. And I think it’s affordable, and I think it’s a smart way to make investments, to go back to our economic discussion, that will contribute to growing the economy.
Now I’m well aware that this is a heavy lift. I understand that. But I think connecting what I’m asking for to the programs, to the outcomes and results that I’m calling for give me a stronger hand, and that’s how I’m going to go at it.
Daily News: So if I understand you correctly, if you look at your proposals for college costs and for family leave, for infrastructure investments…
Clinton: Well, that’s a little bit different, because infrastructure investment, I’m still looking at how we fund the National Infrastructure Bank. It may be repatriation. That’s one theory, or something else. It’s about $100 billion a year.
Daily News: A hundred billion a year, so that comes out to about a trillion dollars…
Clinton: Over ten.
Daily News: …over ten years.
Meanwhile, never mentioned, is what happens to an already hurting economy when government decides it can spend money better than those who earn it? Well the same thing that happens in any planned economy. People who earn the money quit doing so since it simply isn’t worth it. When marginal rates rise to the point that if you spend your time earning more, most of it goes out in taxes, well then you put together a plan to maximize what you get to keep and you don’t commit to any extra earning that will be mostly taxes.
Does the government spending drop when the planned tax revenues drop?
Have you ever seen it do so? Do you have any idea of how we’ve amassed the $18 trillion dollar debt we have?
So yeah, let’s elect this criminal crackpot and economic illiterate and finally pull the flush chain. Let’s just let it all go down the drain.
What a political season we’re being subjected too. And idiot on the right and two socialist crackpots on the left.
Meanwhile, the apparent hot topic is whether or not North Carolina has the right to have men use a men’s room and not the women’s room.
If Obama was where someone was pouring leadership into a glass for others to partake, he would have his glass turned over. He is the antithesis of a leader. He is, without a doubt, one of the worst leaders this country has ever suffered. And that’s not just my opinion.
James P. Cain, a former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. He lost his son-in-law in the recent Brussels bombing. In a eulogy for his son-in-law he makes it clear what he thinks of the current US “leadership” in the face of a deadly and intractable enemy that much of the West and specifically the US, refuses to either recognize or confront.
Let’s be clear. This fight is not only against America and Europe, and it is not against Christianity. It is a fight against individualism, reason and independence of thought that began during the Enlightenment over 350 years ago in France, and found its greatest expression in the grand experiment launched by our Founding Fathers in Philadelphia.
This freedom is now under attack by the henchmen of the Dark Ages wherever they detect it—from Paris to Pakistan, San Bernardino to Istanbul, Nairobi to Brussels. Those who embrace this freedom, in what was once permissible to call the civilized world, are awakening to the battle lines that are forming. And like the battles that liberated Europe 70 years ago, the civilized world now demands coordination, willpower and leadership.
More important, where is American leadership?
Even before the horrifying attacks in Brussels, I was hearing grave concern from many friends in Europe about America’s withdrawal from the global stage: Our leaving Iraq without putting adequate security measures in place; our rebuffing of traditional allies in the region; our passivity as hundreds of thousands of Syrians were slaughtered; our paralysis as Islamic State made a grotesque spectacle of beheading “infidels,” including Americans. Since the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the worried chorus from Europe has grown louder.
Of course the chorus has grown louder. Europe has invested little in its own defense. The US has always been there for them … until now.
It’s one thing to make the case that it is the job of Europe to begin to shoulder more of the burden of its own defense and then begin a well-thought out plan to which they’ve agreed to shift some of that burden. That’s leadership. Abandoning them is not leadership. And Obama has, essentially, abandoned them by not leading. He’s helped create the crisis, by lack of leadership, and he’s now exacerbating the problem by continuing his lack of leadership.
He simply isn’t nor has he ever been a leader.
And the world has suffered because of that.
While you may believe that the US needs to back down from the role of world policeman, that’s something a leader would do with a plan and gradually.
You don’t just quit doing it.
That is, unless you’re unqualified for the job you hold, have never held a leadership position previously and are not a particularly deep thinker when it comes to figuring out the consequences of your actions or lack thereof.
But then, I just described Barack Obama.
First, the University of Missouri, where the SJWs, with the help of a professor who didn’t think much of the 1st Amendment and was fine with committing battery to deny it, is having a rough year. Consequences from this bit of nonsense have really hit the bottom line:
Following a drop in students applying for housing, the University of Missouri will not be placing students in two dorms for the fall 2016 semester.
Mizzou will be closing the Respect and Excellence halls (ironic names, given the circumstances) in order to utilize dorm space “in the most efficient manner” to keep costs down.
In March, the university announced that it saw a sharp drop in admissions for the coming school year, and will have 1,500 fewer students. This will lead to a $32 million budget shortfall for the school, prompting the need to close the dorms in order to save money.
“Dear university community,” wrote interim chancellor Hank Foley in an email to the school back in March. “I am writing to you today to confirm that we project a very significant budget shortfall due to an unexpected sharp decline in first-year enrollments and student retention this coming fall. I wish I had better news.”
You see, those who are looking for a college have alternatives. And when they see a college or university that they perceive, right or wrong, to be out of control, they are likely to take their business elsewhere. Afterall, they’re paying the bill. So, take note all you institutions of higher learning who tend to fold like a wet paper box when a few students protest, you too may end up closing a couple of dorms if it goes the way of Mizzou. Fair warning.
Oh, and speaking of alternatives, New York government has decided to be “wonderful” with other people’s money and has hiked the minimum wage to $15 (over a time period). That’s double the wage of today. White Castle, an NY institution, isn’t taking that well since it will have a very heavy impact on their profitability (they make a 1 to 2% profit after expenses, including labor). White Castle’s CEO says there are few alternatives. If it was about price increases only, they’d have to increase their prices by 50%. He’s pretty sure that’s a no-go because of competition for dining out dollars. So, what’s he left with?
In the hyper-competitive restaurant industry, margins are slim — Richardson says that, in a typical year, White Castle hopes to achieve a net profit of between 1 and 2 percent — and if labor costs go up, many restaurants will turn toward labor-cost-cutting automation or business models that don’t require many employees. That means a lot of kids won’t get that first job. After decades of baggage check-in kiosks at airports, ATMs, and self-check-out lines at the supermarket, is it really so hard to imagine automation replacing the kid behind the counter at burger joints?
And what is lost to more young, inexperienced and thereby low-wage workers?
“We know that Millennials aren’t thinking they’ll stay at White Castle for 30 years,” Richardson says. “We view it as the start of the path. That’s true if you stay at White Castle or move on to something else. The skills you gain, you can take to the next role: learning how to apply for and get a job, learning how to show up, learning a work ethic, making a paycheck, and having fun.”
But this is about more than wages — White Castle has offered benefits and retirement programs for decades. It’s about the opportunity to work, to take the first step up the ladder of life, to get started.
“Out-of-work kids who don’t have an opportunity to work get in trouble. We want to offer kids jobs, offer kids work,” Richardson says. “There’s dignity in that.”
Somehow, though, the concept of starter jobs that pay low wages (and with the minimum wage, it’s usually more than they are worth) has become lost in all of this and we see government stepping in to make them “career” jobs for some idiotic and economically unsound reason. The result is predictable, although it will likely be hidden. You won’t see numbers because the numbers in question are those who are never hired because the wage floor is too high. And they’re going to be the “out-of-work” kids who don’t get that first chance to experience a job and what it takes to succeed.
Instead an alternative will do the work. A kiosk will greet the customer, takes his order and money and do so at a price point well below a $15 an hour worker. This isn’t rocket science and the math isn’t hard at all – $15 times 0 hours equals what?
I think we all knew it wasn’t a matter of “if”, but when. “When” was today.
Today in Brussels was a demonstration by ISIS. Unlike our President, they actually back their talk with action. They’ve been saying for quite some time they were going to strike in a different way – a mass casualty way. Previously, they were mostly interested in targeted actions, like Charlie Hebdo.
Today, it was about terror … pure and simple. All the attacks took place outside of secure areas. Easy as pie. One in the waiting area to go through security at the airport and one in a subway station. And it certainly doesn’t take a heck of a lot of sophisticated intelligence gathering. The timing (rush hour at the subway station, any busy hour at the airport) is pretty easy to figure out.
It could have been anywhere a crowd was gathered. But we’re not talking rocket science here. Identify a target, recruit one or more fanatics, explosives … some assembly required (automatic disassembly guaranteed upon detonation).
It could have also happened anywhere. In any country. Of course, Brussels is the capital of the EU. ISIS is big into symbolism when they strike outside their region.
The point of course is you can look for this to happen any number of times in any number of places in the (near) future. As I said, this is their demonstration.
So where is “next”? A crowded shopping mall on a sale day? A stadium sports event? A political rally?
More importantly what can we do about it … without giving up more liberty and freedoms?
Me, I’m all for taking my chances and playing the terrorist lottery. I figure I’ve got about as much a chance of winning that lottery as I do the state’s numbers game, er, lottery.
However, that’s not what I expect to see.
Hide and watch.
It’s closer than you think. Last Friday I put a bit up in Stray Voltage about Dominos testing a robot delivery service in New Zealand. And I intimated that that sort of automation would be something that would displace labor if labor got too expensive – like $15 for the minimum wage.
Over the weekend I happened across a couple of more articles. One featured the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl Jr.’s talking about an automated restaurant he’d seen in San Francisco. And, sure enough, his focus was on labor savings ($15 minimum wages specifically):
The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has visited the 100%-automated restaurant Eatsa — and it’s given him some ideas on how to deal with rising minimum wages.
“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider of his automated restaurant plans. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”
Pudzer’s interest in an employee-free restaurant, which he says would only be possible if the company found time as Hardee’s works on its northeastern expansion, has been driven by rising minimum wages across the US.
“With government driving up the cost of labour, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”
Good old government. Helping out again, aren’t they (another way to make you more dependent on them)? As Pudzer says:
“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Pudzer. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”
Well no, it doesn’t. And then there’s this:
“If you’re making labour more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Pudzer.
Well no, it’s not – er, except to Bernie supporters. But then it isn’t necessarily easy to automate everyone’s jobs either. But it is getting easier as technology develops.
Take the restaurant that Pudzer was talking about:
“I would call it different than a restaurant,” said David Friedberg, a software entrepreneur who founded Eatsa. “It’s more like a food delivery system.”
Last week, I was in a fast-moving line and browsed on a flat-screen monitor the menu of eight quinoa bowls, each costing $6.95 (burrito bowl, bento bowl, balsamic beet). Then I approached an iPad, where I tapped in my order, customized it and paid. My name, taken from my credit card, appeared on another screen, and when my food was ready, a number showed up next to it.
It corresponded to a cubby where my food would soon appear. The cubbies are behind transparent LCD screens that go black when the food is deposited, so no signs of human involvement are visible. With two taps of my finger, my cubby opened and my food was waiting.
The quinoa — stir-fried, with arugula, parsnips and red curry — tasted quite good.
And he saw no one other than other customers. Says the author of the article:
Whether a restaurant that employs few people is good for the economy is another question. Restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, have traditionally been a place where low-skilled workers can find employment. Most of the workers are not paid much, though in San Francisco employers of a certain size must pay health benefits and in 2018 a minimum wage of $15.
Ironic, isn’t it? That the prototype “food delivery system” is established in a city in which government has decided it will set the wages. The laws of economics, or “rocket science” for the Bernie supporters, begs to differ. There’s no real advantage in terms of labor savings, if the market sets the minimum wage, but mandated wages? Well, then it comes down to viable alternatives – and cost-wise, this is suddenly viable. The lower wage job holders of America say – thanks government.
And beyond the obvious, there are advantages to automating:
By not hiring people to work in the front of the restaurant, he said, they save money on payroll and real estate. (There will always be at least one person available to help people navigate the iPads and to clean up.) The kitchen is also automated, though he declined to reveal how, and the company is experimenting with how to further automate food preparation and delivery.
And, fewer to call in sick, give benefits, sick days and paid vacations too. Make an employer’s job easier, more efficient and more enjoyable and the employer will take that route every time.
“We can sit and debate all day what the implications are for low-wage workers at restaurants, but I don’t think that’s fair. If increased productivity means cost savings get passed to consumers, consumers are going to have a lot more to spend on lots of things.”
Consumers have a choice – spend more for the same thing to help someone else have more money or spend less for the same thing and have more to spend on other things they want or need. Wal-Mart says they will choose the latter. So do those pesky laws of economics.
The food industry isn’t the only industry that’s going to see this though:
Automation is transforming every industry. Business owners look to substitute machines for human labor. It happened to blue-collar workers in factories and white-collar workers in banks and even law firms. With self-driving vehicles, it may happen in the taxi and trucking industries. Robots and artificial intelligence machines are expected to transform health care.
Coming sooner rather than later … possibly sooner than we think.
Nowhere is the potential for job automation so obvious as it is in the on-demand economy, where many startups have grown fat with venture capital despite poor unit-economics. Uber is spending heavily to hasten the development of driverless cars. Instacart, Postmates, and other delivery-heavy startups are unlikely to stick with humans once machines—which don’t take sick days, need bathroom breaks, or threaten to unionize—can do the same jobs.
But even if you don’t work in the on-demand economy, chances are high that you or someone you know will eventually be in the same position as Fox-Hartin. Machines already exist that can flip burgers and prepare salads, learn and perform warehouse tasks, and check guests into hotels. Companies like WorkFusion offer software that observes and eventually automates repetitive tasks done by human workers. And automation has also crept into knowledge-based professions like law and reporting. When in 2013 researchers at Oxford assessed whether 702 different occupations could be computerized, they concluded that 47% of U.S. employment was at risk of being lost to machines.
Glenn Reynolds makes the following observation while talking about Merkel’s refugee debacle (one with which I agree):
Fascism, like communism, is an opportunistic infection of the body politic, one that occurs when the institutions — and officeholders — of liberal democracy are too corrupt, or too weak, or both, to sustain business as usual. If you don’t like this outcome, don’t be weak and corrupt.
We’re headed over the same waterfall. Over the years, we’ve seen our republic sink into political cess pit of the worst sort. Corruption, cronyism, selling of political favors, governmental bullying, factionalism . Add to that uncontrolled and unpunished bureaucratic over reach, government infringements on rights to a previously unheard of level, the law used as an oppressive tool instead of a protective one and uncontrolled spending resulting in massive debt.
The government, as first designed, has ceased to function that way. The lines of separation between the 3 branches of our government have become so muddled and indistinct that that the government is almost unable to do its most basic job. What we’ve seen is the willful ignoring of the Constitution by all three branches that has brought us to the point that those in power are now thought of more as enemies of the people than representatives.
Paul Rahe points out one of the reasons we’re where we are today:
The truth is that modern liberty depends on the power of the purse. All of the great battles in England in the 17th century between the Crown and Parliament turned ultimately on the power of the purse. The members of Parliament were elected at least in part with an eye to achieving a redress of grievances, and that redress was the price they exacted for funding the Crown. Our legislature has given up that power. Our congressional leaders claim – once the election is over – that they have no leverage. If that is really true, then elections do not matter, and a redress of grievances is now beyond the legislature’s power. Absent that capacity, however, the legislature is virtually useless. Absent that capacity, it is contemptible — and let’s face it: the President and those who work under him have showered it with contempt.
That basic contempt for the law, the demonstrated weakness when it comes to doing their job, their capitulation to special interests and greed and their ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people, on both sides of the political isle, are fed up with them and what they’ve built is where the electorate’s rage is grounded.
Tell me, does this remind you of any period or periods in history? Certainly faint echoes at least. Many of the dynamics at work then don’t exist now, but the fact that government wasn’t working for the majority in those two instances can also be said about what is happening here now. Why else would a billionaire reality TV show star and a clueless socialist be as popular as they are?
It is another cry for drastic change in the way our representatives do their job and the way our government is run. Obama was the same thing. Now the choice is even worse.
Lump that all in with a historically and economically illiterate citizenry and it is a dangerous mix.
This is all headed for a showdown somewhere down the road, either soon or in the near future. The question is, what will survive the event when it happens? And is it possible that we can somehow see a leader emerge who can articulate the building rage (Sanders and Trump can do that) and actually LEAD us to reforming government to the point that it is again on the track it was originally supposed to be on?
For the first question, I have no idea. As for the second, I have no confidence that such a person exists at this point and if he or she does, that this is at all recoverable.