The American horror show

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By Leith van Onselen

Dave Simon, writer of my all-time favourite US TV show, The Wire, has delivered a cracking speech about the divide between rich and poor in America and how capitalism has lost sight of its social compact. Simon is nostalgic for the economy of yesteryear, when America actually produced stuff and the American Dream was still attainable for most people:

Labour doesn’t get to win all its arguments, capital doesn’t get to. But it’s in the tension, it’s in the actual fight between the two, that capitalism actually becomes functional, that it becomes something that every stratum in society has a stake in, that they all share.

The unions actually mattered. The unions were part of the equation. It didn’t matter that they won all the time, it didn’t matter that they lost all the time, it just mattered that they had to win some of the time and they had to put up a fight and they had to argue for the demand and the equation and for the idea that workers were not worth less, they were worth more.

Ultimately we abandoned that and believed in the idea of trickle-down and the idea of the market economy and the market knows best, to the point where now libertarianism in my country is actually being taken seriously as an intelligent mode of political thought. It’s astonishing to me. But it is. People are saying I don’t need anything but my own ability to earn a profit. I’m not connected to society. I don’t care how the road got built, I don’t care where the firefighter comes from, I don’t care who educates the kids other than my kids. I am me. It’s the triumph of the self. I am me, hear me roar…

And so in my country you’re seeing a horror show. You’re seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you’re seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You’re seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we’ve put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.

We have become something other than what we claim for the American dream and all because of our inability to basically share, to even contemplate a socialist impulse…

That’s the great horror show. What are we going to do with all these people that we’ve managed to marginalise?

Adding some fuel to Simon’s view is the below article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek about incomes and rents for those in America towards the bottom of the scale. It says after paying rents, the poor have even less money left over to spend. It cites a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University:

“In 1960, about one in four renters paid more than 30 percent of income for housing. Today, one in two are cost burdened,” according to the study, America’s Rental Housing.

“Cost-burdened” means you’re paying more than 30 percent of income for housing and “severely cost-burdened” means you’re paying more than half. “By 2011, 28 percent of renters paid more than half their incomes for housing, bringing the number with severe cost burdens up by 2.5 million in just four years, to 11.3 million”…

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I have lived and traveled extensively in the US and love many aspects of the country. What I don’t like, however, is its shoddy health care system, gaping income inequality (including its treatment of the poor), its rent seeking large corporations, and its gun culture.

It truly is the land of extremes with the best and worst of everything.

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Comments

  1. UE,

    But in China there is a gapping divide between rich and poor.
    And in India there is a gapping divide between rich and poor.
    And in almost every other country around the world there is a gapping divide between rich and poor.

    In fact, in countries where over 85% of worlds population now reside there has been a gapping divide between rich and poor forever. And recent developments mean that now that most of the countries with the other 15% of the worlds population are joining them.

    So the question for people like Dave Simon is.
    Why should the US be different?
    Why should the US be exceptional?

    And once they have answered this question then he can answer a supplementary question.

    Even if the US does continue to try too be different and exceptional how long before the rest of world sends it enough people that it collapses under its own weight so that even the most wealthy, the most powerful country in the history of the world can no longer kid itself about being different and exceptional?

  2. interested party

    While you were sleeping
    They came and took it all away
    The lanes and the meadows
    The places where you used to play

    It was an inside job
    By the well-connected
    Your little protest
    Summarily rejected

    It was an inside job
    Like it always is
    Chalk it up to business as usual

    While we are dreaming
    This little island disappears
    While you are looking the other way
    They’ll take your right to own your own ideas

    And it’s an inside job
    Favors collected
    Your trusted servants
    Have left you unprotected

    It was an inside job
    Like it always is
    Just chalk it up
    To business as usual

    You think that you’re so smart
    But you don’t have a fucking clue
    What those men up in the towers
    Are doing to me and you
    And they’ll keep doin’ it and doin’ it
    And doin’ it and doin’ it
    And doin’ it and doin’ it
    And doin’ it and doin’ it
    Until we all wake up
    Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up

    I know what I’ve done wrong
    I am acquainted with the night
    I know how hard it is
    To always walk out in the light

    And it’s an inside job
    To learn about forgiving
    It’s an inside job
    To hang on to the joy of living

    They know the road by which you came
    They know your mother’s maiden name
    And what you had for breakfast
    And what you’ve hidden in the mattress

    Insect politics
    Indifferent universe
    Bang your head against the wall
    But apathy is worse

    It’s an inside job
    It’s an inside job
    It’s an inside job
    Yeh, yeah

    Don Henley….Inside Job.

    • Well well well – have you had something this afternoon 3d1k

      From your link;
      “The propagandists for globalism are the natural outgrowth of this image-based and culturally illiterate world. They speak about economic and political theory in empty clichés. They cater to our subliminal and irrational desires. They select a few facts and isolated data and use them to dismiss historical, economic, political and cultural realities. They tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. They assure us that we are exceptional as individuals and as a nation. They champion our ignorance as knowledge. They tell us that there is no reason to investigate other ways of organizing and governing our society. Our way of life is the best. Capitalism has made us great.”

      And all this underpinned by millions of poor throughout the world,not the exceptional nature of the top 5%.
      Other links: Hoe the Republicans have gerrymandered the system;
      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-republicans-rig-the-game-20131111
      How the republicans are back to the futre that it is Your Fault that you are poor;
      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-republicans-war-on-the-poor-20131024

      The Seven Most Extreme State Laws Proposed This Year
      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-seven-most-extreme-state-laws-proposed-this-year-20130910
      1. North Carolina’s “Establish an Official State Religion” resolution
      2. New Mexico’s “Rape Fetus as Evidence” bill
      Michigan’s “Guns in Daycare Centers” bill
      5. South Dakota’s “No Weekends or Holidays”
      abortion bill
      etc

      And this is a classic video Must Watch
      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/the-daily-show-does-ratings-agencies-20130625

    • 3d1k,

      Well maybe. The comment I sadly find impossible is about “Adequate food, clean water and basic security”. There is no chance of the world doing this for the 7 Billion people now in the world let alone the 10 Billion or so that will be on the planet by 2050 and god knows how many by 2100.

      But I contend that the other story for the collapse of globalisation is when the elites of a country try to explain to their masses that “this is as good as it gets”. “It is never, ever, ever going to get any better for the average citizen”.

      Not going to happen unless the elites want to be replaced and lose their position of privilege.

      So each country will find its elites trying all sorts of mercantilism, encouraging emigration to countries like Australia, flaunting of patent and intellectual property laws etc, etc which will ultimately destroy trade and globalization BUT keep the elites in their positions of power.

  3. “” notsofast says: December 13, 2013 at 4:11 pm UE,
    But in China there is a gapping divide between rich and poor.
    And in India there is a gapping divide between rich and poor.
    And in almost every other country around the world there is a gapping divide between rich and poor. “”

    That may be so; but China and India are not “First World Countries” whereas America is. Or is thought to be.

    • Prometheus69,

      Its only a definition.

      A definition for which 85% of worlds population cares little.

      • this difference is that the US had some from of income equality for a number of decades (ability to purchase real estate, start a business, average CEO pay rate vs average workers pay, less dominance of the economy by financial institutions and occasionally, labor unions that acted as such, not the quasi corporates they are today)

        This then deteriorated rapidly in the last decade (give or take) for the average citizen. to the point where education, healthcare and basic social services are mere shadows of there former selves.

        India and China have never (and will likely never) achieve such a thing. That is a key difference.

        Interesting point made about the globalisation of populations though, and the end of the day, could America really be the america of the 50’s with an extra 300 million immigrants…. perhaps not, and perhaps that applies to any nation. These things are often a zero sum games. The first worlds standard of living is leveraged to the lack there of from the 2nd and 3rd world, so in order for the Chinas and indias to enjoy a reasonable increase in their standard of living, technology (and politics) needs to do a lot of heavy lifting, or the 1st world needs to adjust its standards (which seems to be the post GFC outcome).

        Either way, the numbers don’t lie, Americas elite class has managed to grow its wealth exponentially during a period in which the lower and middle classes have been pushed back to living standards in some aspects, lower than those enjoyed 50, even 100 years ago.

    • Like to see this video for other countries around the world.

      I bet the “reality” is more skewed towards the 1% and the 10% (a figure which is not mentioned by the video) for most of the poorer countries around the world than even in the US.

      I know, I know, the elites of these countries don’t want to look at it like this. They want to look at wealth distribution on a global scale. The elites from poorer countries are quite happy to have the 1% live in luxury and the 10% live very well while the vast majority live in absolute poverty all the while pointing out with a straight face the hypocrisy of the “West’ where the average citizen lives much better and continues to consume most of the world resources.

      Guess who is going to win this argument.

      At 85% versus 15% it really is a no brainer. Only a matter of time.

      • The measure of the distribution of wealth as measured by the ‘Gini Coefficient’ is remarkably consistent from a global economy perspective and right down to individual nations. What caused a redistribution of wealth (not much) in many countries was the use of more progressive tax policies during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Since the ‘social contract’ has been rolled back in many countries the distribution of wealth has been skewed back to the very wealthy. I think the US may now have an income distribution that is worse than Brazil. Social and economic collapse will probably the outcome.

      • Nothing to do with increased returns to skill (good) or increased successful zero sum rent seeking (bad)?

  4. interested party

    UE,
    Not that I condone the behavior of some gun users in the USA, I see the quantity of guns held by the general population as the last remaining vestige of possible defiance in the people against the corporate state…..and lets make no mistake here, that is what it has become.

      • interested party

        I am thinking along the lines of a possible 2nd american revolution. Burning cars and throwing molatovs sorta doesn’t work, but an armed pissed off population maybe has a chance. If it comes to that, then who knows. Likely outcome would be a military dictator I reckon.

    • We need to distinguish America’s “gun culture” from its gun death rate.

      If Australia had a long land border with Mexico and inner city gangs fighting to control the local drug trade, its gun death rate might be a concern too.

      There is a lot of utterly dishonest use of statistics that the great majority of decent people who feel justified in owning a gun, feel is aimed at a dangerous expansion of State power. Every time a psychopath commits a mass murder, the cry goes up, “the US gun murder rate is too high, we must confiscate guns”. But the gun murder rate in the US is nothing to do with psychopaths committing mass murder; the rate of this in the US is not unusual. Australia and NZ and the UK have all had them – they are just much smaller countries.

      Again, the “gun culture” in America is understandably skeptical when the same administration that proposes to confiscate their guns, never does anything resolute about the inner city violence. Not about social breakdown and not about adequate policing and sentencing. Successful initiatives are local and constantly in danger of challenge from the Federal level, the courts, and changes in local administration. The worst is being predicted by conservatives, for what New York is likely to become under DiBlasio.

      • Gun culture and gun deaths are linked. In the US guns are tied into the mythology of the nation. They are viewed as consumer items. Given this if you have a greater preponderance of something then more gun related crime incidents happen along with increased gun deaths from accidents, gun related suicides, etc.

        The US seems to be coming to a point where it will come apart given the hard data about payroll stats, people on food stamps, etc. Having a gun will not address economic privation but it may contribute to more violence in a society where people may get more and more desperate. Very rarely does a ‘good’ man with a gun turn up and save the day.

      • interested party

        PB

        I agree with what you say. At the start, my aim was to draw attention to the possibility of the US citizens raising arms against the corporate state/ industrial complex and in that light, that from their perspective ( the citizens) this might be a good thing. A deterrent if you will. It may have enough “pushback” to stop an all out conflict…..or it could be a bad thing and it could spiral out of control very rapidly. A cornered dog WILL bite back.

        As to the gun debate, I have no problem with guns….had a bunch when much younger..no big deal.

      • Phil,

        I agree. DiBlasio appears to be taking New York back to the bad old days, pre Giuliani.

      • interested party

        Nexus789,

        Also very true. A gun death is automatically associated with a culture of some description, either hunting or criminal. That is for the individual to decide. I would be very wary of a government, like the one the USA has, calling for the population to be disarmed in the light of what the government has become. It boils down to more destitution and hunger….or you fight back. That is the context in which I made the original comment ………not to fire up a pro/against argument.

      • I am with you, Interested Party. There are several very good arguments made by the “gun owners lobby”, and the potential for decent people to resist a tyrannical government is one of them.

        It is worth watching some of the arguments between Piers Morgan and various advocates over there. Some of them, like Alex Jones, are extreme nutters. But others, like Ted Nugent and Ben Shapiro and an ex-marine guy whose name I can’t remember, made very decent arguments.

        It is a bit like, Muslim terrorists hijack planes, should we ban all Muslims from flying? But most Muslims are not terrorists, and those who are will get round the ban anyway. Guns are like that too. The dangerous people will get round a ban anyway. The decent people who will have their guns taken off them are the ones who were not a threat.

      • But the gun murder rate in the US is nothing to do with psychopaths committing mass murder; the rate of this in the US is not unusual. Australia and NZ and the UK have all had them – they are just much smaller countries.
        I’d have to see some stats supporting that. The US has a “whacko with a gun shoots half a dozen people” just about every other month.

        I don’t have a problem with guns per se, but the people who think a populace armed with pistols and rifles – even lots of them – is somehow a brake on Government armed with tanks and drones, and therefore anyone should be able to wander into a Walmart and leave ten minutes later with an arsenal, is off in la-la land.

      • drsmithy,

        ” The US has a “whacko with a gun shoots half a dozen people” just about every other month.”

        Sad and true.

        “but the people who think a populace armed with pistols and rifles – even lots of them – is somehow a brake on Government armed with tanks and drones,”

        At the start, my aim was to draw attention to the POSSIBILITY of the US citizens raising arms against the corporate state/ industrial complex and in that light, that from THEIR perspective ( the citizens) this might be a good thing. A deterrent if you will. It may have enough “pushback” to stop an all out conflict…..or it could be a bad thing and it could spiral out of control very rapidly.

        “and therefore anyone should be able to wander into a Walmart and leave ten minutes later with an arsenal,”

        Arguing something based on assumptions is not the best way to get your point across. Your point has not been mentioned at all in the comment thread above. Emotionally loaded assumptions do you no favours.

        I will leave the la-la land bit alone. Personal jibes have no place here.

    • I really dont think people need to use guns, they only have to get organised to hurt the rich people. first off everyone could stop buying petrol at a popular seller and force it out of business, then tell the remaining companies that the same will happen to them if they dont give a fair price, even if ll the petrol companies go out of business, someone somewhere will see it as a good idea to get up and running and serve the people to what they deserve, this could be done with the mega shops, banks, etc etc and it wouldnt be long before other business fell into place and stopped giving their top people obscene aounts of money.

      • Yeah, but we need to start where the problem is at its worst. The businesses you are describing do all make most of their money supplying stuff people want, in competition to other companies; and they provide employment.

        What we need to concentrate on are the systemic zero-sum wealth transfer merchants. Particularly in finance and property investment.

        And this does not so much need action from “customers withholding their business”, as straight-out changes to the legal and regulatory framework in which these sectors operate.

        For example, QE should NOT be done via the banking sector, if at all. This is just straight-out free money for the wrong people. Tax cuts for actual producers would be far more moral.

        And “save the planet” urban planning, if it is really so necessary to “save the planet”, should involve compulsory acquisition of the land targeted for change of use. As it is, the zonings main effect is a 2000% or so capital gain for the property owners; and the actual changes in use occur only weakly if at all.

        An excellent example is Curitiba’s famous “Bus Rapid Transit” based “Integrated Transport Planning” of the early 1970’s. All the land involved was compulsorily acquired. It is nonsense to expect similar outcomes, i.e. happy tenants in large amounts of reasonable-priced accommodation lining the new mass transit routes; without compulsory acquisition of the property to be redeveloped under the plan.

        I would bet my bottom dollar that as soon as compulsory acquisition was made an essential part of the “save the planet” planning, “save the planet” planning would suddenly run into a storm of debunking and exposing of its pointlessness.

        It would be good if people were always more suspicious of “who gains” from various policy courses. For example, if we need to reduce CO2 emissions, involving Wall Street in it by creating a market in tradable credits, is lunacy. Of course the whole thing will be rigged to further enrich the top 1%.

        What you are saying about petrol vendors and chain stores would be a lot more necessary if someone had been granted a monopoly by a corrupt dictator. But generally “big businesses” that do actually go to a lot of effort and employ a lot of people, to provide stuff for which there is genuine demand, and face competition in the process, don’t manage to do zero-sum “gouging” on anything like the same scale as market actors who just “clip tickets”.

  5. The usury industry has successfully, horrifically, turned community into a competition for artificially scarce resources.

    There is no community only financial competitors.

    • Well said and spot on!
      There is little left that is the “common good”.
      Everything has been reduced down to a commodity and has been deconstructed; thanks in part to the pervasive influence of the Frankfurt School.

      • China is now trying to create a story now “of the common good”. As is India, as are most countries. Including the US and Australia.

        But deep down we all know, more or less, it is all BS.

  6. Trends forecaster Gerald Celente is worth looking up when it comes to what is happening and going to happen in the US.

  7. A couple of quibbles:

    a) The US system has long been subject to a mind-numbing amount of regulation, even before ObamaCare. To say that the ills of its health system are the result of unfettered markets is as silly as to claim that Singapore’s success has been the result of its vast natural resources. The failure is a result of rent-seeking behaviour and ill-fated intervention, no matter how well intentioned.

    Many of the critics, who assume wrongly that there is a free market in health care, should think about the rise of medical tourism. I’ve had two major surgeries overseas and appreciate the change that comes from doctors having clients, with agency and rights, compared to the usual model of doctor patient, or more accurately, a thing to do things to without consultation.

    b) The ‘gun culture’ thing. The overwhelming amount of crime involving guns takes place in relatively defined areas and mostly involves, as both victim and perpetrator, members of certain groups of that society. Ironically, the problem is often worst in those places with the harshest firearms laws, and least concerning in areas where people are allowed to carry them.

    One thing to keep in mind is that firearms are easy to make. There are hundreds of ad hoc manufacturers in Thailand producing them with basic metal working techniques and 3D printing has produced a working firearm (I was called a moron for predicting that). The genie is out of the bottle.

    The single biggest problem they have is the confluence of political influence being for sale and a system that allows for legislation to deal with any variety of matters, hence the nightmare of riders to bills. This makes me glad that our constitution says bills can only deal with one matter at a time.

    • The other thing to remember is that the US was the only major industrial power left standing after WW2. To think that it could maintain that position is fanciful.

    • interested party

      Thanks for the link.
      I spent a bit of time in Port Moresby several years back and had contact with many locals. One particular conversation has stuck with me since then. It was with an older gentleman ( in the truest sense of the word), and I asked him why Port Moresby was so violent and his reply was “a hungry man is an angry man”.

      Key words………hungry and violence.

    • ‘Griftopia – Bubble machines, vampire squids and the long con that is breaking america’, is another great read by Taibbi and really shows at a very practical level how the usury industry and the financialisation of housing and society has corrupted the institutions of government and soul of the community.

      • As I was backpacking through Sumatra in March this year I picked up a book at Lake Toba ‘The Fundamental Jesus’. It seems that the social stir JC was working on was a finance/political conspiracy that appears to be mirrored by some current circumstances.

        I don’t have the book with me so a can’t quote …

        The powers that be decided to replace hereditary land entitlement with a system of tradeable land titles like freehold I guess.
        The next step involves endebting the title holders.
        The final step is to bankrupt and reassigned ownership.

        Perhaps a response to jubilee debt forgiveness?

        I feel this is what is happening now with the same players and similar modus operandi.

      • There is nothing wrong with land ownership per se.

        The root of the current problem is regulatory creation of oligopolies in land at certain LOCATIONS.

        Note that as far back as 1984, Cheshire and colleagues from the LSE found that the Town and Country Planning system in the Uk had made the price of land per square foot in their cities, 200 to 325 times higher than “free to sprawl” benchmark cities in the USA.

        There is not a lot of opportunity for gouging the public in a housing market that works like THIS one:

        http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-search/Houston_TX/type-condo-townhome-row-home-co-op,multi-family-home/price-na-150000/pg-10

  8. This guy Dave Simon epitomises the failure of modern punditry, always leaping from observations of “inequality and the top 1%”, to class warfare between the unions and productive employers.

    Meanwhile, the top 1%, who are almost all zero-sum rentiers, not productive employers of workforces unionised or otherwise, are laughing all the way to the Cayman Islands.

    Henry George was right 100 years ago about this – the representatives of “labour” are largely too stupid to understand the difference between wealth creation and the zero-sum rentier phenomenon that is the enemy of both the wealth creating entrepreneur and his workforces.

    http://www.dickmorris.com/obamas-phony-populism/?utm

    “…..Since Obama took office, 85 percent of all income growth has been concentrated in the top 1 percent of the population. (Under George W. Bush it was 65 percent, and under Bill Clinton it was 45 percent).

    The bottom 99 percent have stagnated during the Obama years, but the rich have gotten immensely richer.

    This trend is a direct result of his quantitative easing program, in which the Federal Reserve purchases $85 billion of bonds each month, giving banks a windfall of cash to use as they wish.

    In theory, they are supposed to lend the money out. However, the banks have asked the Fed to pay them 3 percent interest on funds they keep on deposit. So, without doing anything, banks get free money from the Fed vaults. (Why would a bank lend money to a risky borrower at 6 percent when it can get 3 percent from the Feds?)

    This monthly infusion permits bankers to buy back stocks to add them to their stock option compensation, distribute Christmas bonuses or engage in risky trading in derivatives or other speculative investments. Despite having paid nothing to get the money, they have broad latitude in investing it.

    Obama’s zero interest policy has blocked savings and limited investment, which is the only way to spur productivity. If productivity doesn’t grow, incomes don’t either, except through inflation.

    This policy also makes a mockery of the elderly who have been thrifty and saved during their entire working lives in the hopes that their nest egg would provide them modest funds on which to retire. Not with zero percent interest, it won’t, unless they invest in risky stocks, where it could all be wiped out…..”

  9. The US healthcare system needed reform, but Obamacare was not that reform. It did nothing about tort costs, defensive medicine, portability of employer-provided health insurance, tax deductibility for individuals, legal mandates disallowing “basic” health insurance policies (offering a level of protection similar to public health systems around the world), or prohibitions on inter-state competition.

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/allen-west-out-foxhole/2013/dec/9/president-and-media-ignore-conservative-alternativ/

    It is also worth considering that MediCare and MedicAid were already only just below 50% of the entire system. Obamacare would have been a far superior system to what it actually is, had it merely allowed anyone not covered elsewhere, to enrol in one of these. It does include some provision along these lines which is its most successful element. The rest of it is all the wrong stuff and none of the right stuff to actually address where the problems are.

  10. The USA has quite a redeeming feature in that there is very much less of a “rentier” economy in many of its States and urban areas.

    People and productive businesses are voting with their feet accordingly.

    I suggest there are massive advantages to being “low income” and living in Houston compared to London or Vancouver or Sydney or Auckland. Or of course LA or NYC.

    But the level of immigration of low skilled people into the USA is a real problem because it depresses the pay level of all low skilled people. The USA should have always been a lot stricter about this.

    Isn’t it ironic that this dreadful oppressive-of-the-poor nation has so many millions of unskilled people sneaking in across the border, presumably to “get their share of the oppression”?

      • That is a valid point, but the biggie that they get right, and that makes the most difference, is keeping the land super cheap. And note that Texas is not a “pro immigration” State like California is. In fact most of the more politically conservative free market States are anti immigration, while it is the trendy-lefty States that are in favour.

    • Is this the same Houston known as the killing fields where over 30 women/children/young girls have been murdered, raped and mutilated?

      • Hmmmm, Houston politics is to blame for someone who lives in the area being a serial murderer? Is there some country where the politics has managed to eliminate this phenomenon?

        Sweden and Norway are some of the leading countries in the first world for rape statistics but that does not stop lefties everywhere from regarding them as paradise.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19592372

        That is a nice P.C. attempt at whitewashing the problem.

        Here is a non-P.C. presentation:

        http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/bruce-bawer/scandinavian-rape-scandinavian-blinders/

      • Sweden and Norway are some of the leading countries in the first world for rape statistics but that does not stop lefties everywhere from regarding them as paradise.
        Even before reading that, the first question I had was “are they all defining rape the same way”.

        Turns out, of course, they’re not. As is pointed out in the first paragraph or two when talking about kidnapping statistics.

        Here is a non-P.C. presentation:
        No, that’s disingenuous sensationalist cherry picking of particularly nasty events in an attempt to stir up racist hatred.

        One only needs to look at the picture presented to know it’s going to be the kind of article that would be printed in the Tele or Courier Mail.

        You seem to be becoming the master of the false equivalency fallacy in your need to blame everything on the left. It’s becoming impossible to trust anything you conclude or reference at face value.

      • Presumably, Smithy, you would have regarded the publishers of “right wing” “Samizdats” in the former USSR as untrustworthy, and the establishment as the spreaders of gospel?

        For your information, it is not lefties getting prosecuted for speaking out of turn anywhere in the western world today. It is ironic that Scandinavians who want to challenge the orxthodoxy have to blog using US hosts, under false names, and of course the P.C. establishment writes those people off as “beyond the pale”.

        After the Breivik massacre there has been a witchhunt of “right wingers” who “might have influenced him”. Very convenient…! Never mind about Muslim hate preachers or Lefty class warfare violence excusers, or slope-browed rhetoricians calling for “trials of climate criminals”.

      • For your information, it is not lefties getting prosecuted for speaking out of turn anywhere in the western world today.
        What are they saying that should be prosecuted ?

        The “righties” have been pretty much running the western world for the last 30-odd years, so arguing they’re not getting a fair go is just comical. It’s practically impossible to open even The Australian without reading some right-wing demonisation and paranoia about of one or more of refugees, the poor, scientists, teachers, non-heterosexuals, non-white foreigners, unions, workers, Greens voters, et al.

        It is ironic that Scandinavians who want to challenge the orxthodoxy have to blog using US hosts, under false names, and of course the P.C. establishment writes those people off as “beyond the pale”.
        It may be ironic, but is it true ?

        After the Breivik massacre there has been a witchhunt of “right wingers” who “might have influenced him”. Very convenient…!
        Is this the lead-in to a no true Scotsman fallacy ?

        Never mind about Muslim hate preachers or Lefty class warfare violence excusers, or slope-browed rhetoricians calling for “trials of climate criminals”.
        Who are these people ? What are they saying that is so offensive ? How are they relevant to this discussion ?

    • Phil,

      They are now much more often coming in on a valid visa and overstaying than sneaking across the border.

      And they are no longer just unskilled, increasingly they are skilled and highly educated.

      • Yeah, the straight-out low-qualified illegals have slowed up because things are not quite as attractive in the USA and they are regarded as much more undesirable by most Americans in the current economic circumstances.

        States like Arizona getting tough has probably helped too.

    • It certainly appears that this is yet another example of theoretical good intentions, that really lack the courage to even discuss (let alone change) the rent-seeking and vested interests and sheer greed that is at the core of the problem.

      That is, it just overlays bureaucracy over the existing problem, leaving the rats nest untouched.

      In my time working with a top-tier advisory firm, i became increasingly disillusioned with the institutions of government and the corporate/finance sector. I saw spin and lies goes untouched and yield millions of dollars for partners and advisory firms, while small businesses and individuals were hunted like dogs for minor transgressions and buried under regulations.

      I’m not sure the average person really understands the double standards at play here. An ethic of public service is very rare, it is extremely easy to buy out and corrupt regulatory agencies just by employing their people – we did it all the time.

      Big government does not match the marketing that’s for sure.

      • Hugh PavletichMEMBER

        aj … thank you.

        I see it as The Bureaucratic Cancer.

        The best thing about the Christchurch earthquakes, is that it showed the public just how incompetent the bureaucracies are at the local and national level.

        What should have been at or below $NZ15 billion series of events, will end up at $40 billion plus.

        I have covered it extensively within (google search) “Christchurch: The Way Forward” with earlier hyperlinked articles.

        It was these same clowns who sabotaged the intent of our land use law … the Resource Management Act … since its inception back in 1991.

        It was always very important to break the will of these clowns. I think we are making rather good progress in New Zealand. There is a long way to go though.

        Hugh Pavletich

      • Hugh PavletichMEMBER

        Explorer … You may find Sir Roderick Deanes recent speech dealing with the issues we face in New Zealand of interest …

        http://www.independenteconomics.com/assets/papers/GovernanceMythsReality.pdf

        Information on Sir Roderick Deane …

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderick_Deane

        We in New Zealand have a massive public bureaucracy over-reach and incompetence problem.

        Unaffordable housing and dysfunctional governance go hand in hand of course ( refer http://www.demographia.com ) , which would suggest Australia has much the same problems.

        Hugh Pavletich

      • Explorer, it’s important to not distinguish the size of the centralised government with it’s effectiveness. I reviewed some great research once that showed that the size of a corporate head office showed zero correlation with effectiveness.

        Some big head offices were good some small were good, what is clear however is that big and bad certainly equalled costly and dysfunctional.

        We have to acknowledge that our political/executive structure is failing us, our institutions are corrupted by self interest and we are adding to the size and the regulation with very little effectiveness and in most cases actually just making things worse.

        When people say they have had enough of big government what they are most often saying is they have had enough of completely ineffectual big government.

      • @ AJ

        You get the gov. you desire, bureaucrats reflect their masters who are in office. In many instances gov. cut bureaucracy and find bottlenecks, so they cut regulation to find SOME businesses take advantage and damage their environment or distort a market.

        Small gov. = good gov. is a right wing slogan that may or may not be the case

      • MoW – i didn’t say smaller was necessary better – did you even read the comment?

        “Small gov. = good gov. is a right wing slogan that may or may not be the case” – well that is just as stupid as a left wing ‘big is better’ slogan. And the environmental straw man is a left favourite, removing ineffective bureaucracy does not necessarily mean environmental degradation, in many cases the EIS mechanism is just a way of politicians avoiding saying no to what is clearly a very bad development that should be stopped at an executive level on environmental concerns, so there are serious flaws in this area as well. The point being that the paradox is that the large global corporates benefit mightily from much of this regulation because of complexity and regulatory capture.

        I have had a great deal of exposure to regulatory capture and know how easy it is. That’s my point, we are drowning in an ocean of regulation that is mostly easily avoided, arbitraged or obfuscated by large corporates and the advisory industry, with large regulatory bodies being complicit in this.

      • AJ, I am still discovering how bad things are on the property development front. I think local government is achieving something there that is not quite the same as the way you put it, but has the same effect.

        In this case I would say that we are drowning in an ocean of regulation that developers are just acquiescing to and passing on the costs to their customers, with large regulatory bodies and the advisory industry being complicit in the shakedown that is going on, and legal firms seeing their interests in perpetuating their income streams from guiding hapless applicants through the labyrinths, and living to do the same thing tomorrow and next week, rather than betting the firm on taking the racket on head-on.

  11. America equals “Citizens United” (TTP is the pacific upgrade) – grok that and it becomes crystal clear.

    BTW Americans don’t use guns against the government, they shoot each other – out of fear and loathing.

  12. Unskilled workers in the USA simply don’t earn enough and their wages haven’t kept up with increases in productivity.

    It’s as simple as that. If people don’t earn enough they end up eating their house, which then puts pressure on their commitments and capacity to make ends meet.

    Their governments have continued to reward the wealthy with ever more tax cuts, which is just a form of welfare for the wealthy. Sorry Libertarians, but welfare is what it is – it’s not your birthrite.

    The problem isn’t big government or budget deficits, it’s a failure to do what governments are elected to do, which is manage and redistribute the national wealth.

    The USA is experiencing government failure. Warren Buffet understands, but the rest of the 1% don’t want to know because they think that this will suit them – in the end it won’t but they are yet to realise that. They fail to understand that you can’t sell anything to a pauper.\