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Britain ideological obsession to a morally bankrupt economic policy

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The 2008 financial crisis

The emergency budget this coming week is expected to bring in significant tax rises; but how serious are Britain’s economic problems and is cutting now the right way to go about tackling them?

It is quite amazing how quickly the discourse has changed, not just in Britain but across the European Union as a whole. From ‘we need to spend, we need a fiscal stimulus to keep our economies out of recession (or even depression)’, to the assertions from Nick Clegg that we must cut back on everything we’ve done in the last two years or ‘face ruin’ and run the risk of strangling any growth that has been gained.

In fact so deep are the planned cuts across Europe that President Obama last week wrote to all nations warning them to watch just how far they go with their austerity plans. However certain countries, and Britain is definately one of them, appear ideologically committed to cuts in order to maintain an economic policy that proved itself bankrupt during the financial crisis of 2008.

Yes the deficit must be addressed. We in Britain in particular have the worst budget deficit in all of Europe, but why stifle the growth we so desperately need, why enforce so much social pain and so much economic suffering to the vast majority of the public?

The argument about cuts and increases in tax will continue to be fought about for a long while yet and be done by much more able people than myself. However, underneath this front-facing battle for agreement I consistently find that there are some very murky realities that continue to be overlooked.

The first is that for all the banging on about cuts being made by the politicians they personally appear to be largely immune from any wielding of the axe. Secondly, the big areas aren’t being discussed. More money is scheduled to be spent on defence and there has been no public scrutiny of the costs of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirdly, the role that the Liberal Democrats are playing in all this shows just how easily the goalposts can be adjusted when personal and party political ambitions for power come into play.

Independent columnist Yasmn Alibah-Brown described this coalition as ‘like a big-blue whale and a little goldfish’. True to life, the goldfish is keeping as quiet as goldfish do and it seems somewhat wrong that any party can so clearly go against many of there manifesto promises to the country. The European-wide commitment to austerity plans demonstrates the deafness of the political classes to the reality of what is happening on the streets across the continent.

Unsurprisingly then, it will once again be left to the ‘small people’ to take the brunt of a problem caused by the so-called ‘big people’ in our society.

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Written by Robert Dale

June 21, 2010 at 7:42 am

Obama is healing US politics

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Here’s another article I’ve done for Catch21 – the UK’s first internet television channel based at Westminster – run by young people, for young people.

President Obama operates in an interesting way. For weeks he had been laying low, appearing not to do very much except make a few long speeches. His healthcare bill was looking in severe jeopardy and he was gradually being written off by friends and enemies as a weak, indecisive failure.

Every new US President enters the White House saying they want to be a uniter not a divider, but January’s defeat in one of the nation’s strongest Democrat seats in Massachusetts snapped Obama out of this sense of romanticism. Instead he was galvanised, returned to campaign mode and rammed his healthcare reform bill through Congress despite fevered Republican objections.

And just a few days after the signing of the bill (for which he used no fewer than 22 pens), which brings healthcare cover to 35 million extra Americans, he went on to ‘bring peace on earth’.

The treaty between the US and Russia, reducing the allowable number of long-range nuclear warheads by 30%, is the most significant nuclear arms agreement since the Cold War. It’s also the first real step towards Obama’s long-term vision for a nuclear free world.

But while last week was a massive boost for the US president, it in no way makes his seat in the Oval Office more secure. Firstly, the treaty with Russia doesn’t actually mean that much domestically, as Americans on the whole aren’t that interested in foreign affairs or disarmament. Instead, it will be how Obama tackles the economy and the country’s 10% unemployment rate that will decide the 2012 election.

Further, the healthcare bill gave a new rallying cry to the Republicans – ‘the socialists are taking over’ became a dominant sentiment among the opponents of the bill, and opposition became so venomous that some Democrats who voted in favour of the healthcare reforms actually had their homes come under attack. So intense in fact was the discontent that Obama himself had to appear on Fox News – something he previously decided not to do – to justify his bill to the people. All this paints a picture that things in America are not as rosy as they appear on our side of the pond.

But regardless of what all this means for Obama’s presidency, last week was a whole lot more important to the US political system as a whole. America actually looks governable again. Had a president with such huge majorities in both Houses failed to enact his keystone legislation, what would that have said for US democracy? Now, for the first time our generation has ever known, there is talk emerging of reforming the system, reforming the Constitution and the way Congress works. These are new ideas, new voices and are slowly building up to something monumental.

This may at first seem a prediction of revolution, but remember that it was this same society that overwhelmingly elected its first African-American president – a revolutionary act in itself and one that proved that, in the political world, surprises are out there all the time.

Written by Robert Dale

March 31, 2010 at 12:06 pm

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